How to Remind Yourself of Your Value (Hint: It Involves Positive Self-Talk)
RAFT Team, February 21, 2022
What Is Self Talk?
Self-talk is that little voice in your head that keeps a running commentary on almost everything you do.* Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes negative. (And sometimes it’s totally random.) Scientists say self-talk is a combination of your conscious thoughts and unconscious beliefs and biases. Either way, self-talk is your brain’s way of processing what you experience each day.
Negative self-talk is that critical voice that says what you do isn’t good enough. That people don’t like you. Or that you do nothing right.
Positive self-talk is not denying that difficult things happen. Instead, it’s the voice that reframes what happens by choosing to improve rather than choosing to blame yourself or beat yourself up when things go awry. (Learn how reframing can lead to resilience here.) Positive self-talk is that supportive, compassionate voice in your head that encourages rather than derides.
The biggest thing to know about self-talk? You believe that voice in your head. Whether it’s negative or positive, it’s convincing, so much so that it shapes your actions and reactions. But the good news is that changing it can change a lot in your life!
What are the Benefits of Positive Self-Talk?
You’ve heard parents cheer on their children at sports events. Or shout bravo at the end of a recital piece. Why? Because it expresses confidence about their accomplishments and affirms they’ve done a good job. Doesn’t it feel great to hear acknowledgement of a job well done? Even a thank you after a meal you’ve cooked encourages you to do it again. This positive reinforcement builds confidence and encourages you to keep moving in the direction you’re headed.
Feel More In Control
Negative self-talk often focuses on the things you can’t control — perceived past failures or things that feel too late to change. The more you focus on what you can do, the more in control you’ll feel. It’s easy to see action steps forward when you have a future-focused, positive view of each situation.
Healthier Mind & Body
Positive thinking leads to better health! It allows you to lower your stress levels. It gives you the in-the-moment ability to cope and find solutions. You’ll lessen depression, reduce pain, and boost your immune system. Take the time to learn these skills for both you and your loved ones — you’ll enjoy a longer life!
How to Practice Positive Self-Talk
Learn to hear what you’re telling yourself.
The very first key in practicing positive self-talk is to hear what that inner voice is saying. Are you your own worst critic? Are you shaming yourself every day? If either of these are true, positive self-talk skills are a must!
Challenge your negative thoughts.
When you hear that negative voice, challenge it. Don’t let it slide by without confronting it. Stop the untruths. (Learn how fact-checking your thinking also helps quiet anxiety here.) Reframe the negativity into something more positive and more productive. (Find some great examples of reframing here.) Don’t stop being realistic about your circumstances: they may be really tough. But use positive self-talk to focus on solutions. This puts you in the driver’s seat rather than positioning yourself as a victim.
Surround yourself with positive people.
One of the best ways to change your thinking from negative to positive is to see it modeled by those around you. Surround yourself with positive people. Soak up their perspective. Practice positivity when you’re around them. They will take whatever you offer, no matter how floundering, and reflect it back to you, most likely boldly and brightly. What better way to learn than that?!
Boost Your Gratitude Practice
One foundation of positivity is gratitude. Learning to see all the good things around you and focus on them is a springboard for positive self-talk. So notice those things. Write them in a gratitude journal. (Here's how to start one!) Share them with the people you’re around. Be vocal about all the good things. It may be hard initially, but this type of learning spirals upward — the more you do it, the more you want to do it. (Learn how gratitude makes you a better leader here. It can build resilience, too!)
As you begin your journey from negative to positive self-talk, don’t expect overnight success. But with consistent practice, you’ll find that the way you speak to yourself and treat yourself becomes more compassionate. You’ll handle stress with more ease, and you'll find that your overall outlook is filled with optimism and confidence.
*Some people don't have an actual voice, but still experience impressions or emotions as an "inner voice." 1-3% don't have any inner thoughts at all, a condition called "aphantasia."