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    8 Ways To Change Your Self-Talk For A Healthy Mind

    By Sanskriti Khera
    1 Jun'22  7 min read
    8 Ways To Change Your Self-Talk For A Healthy Mind
    Synopsis

    Agree or not, we all spend some time talking to our own selves. What we often don’t realise is how our self-talk affects how we feel and behave. Read this article to know how our self-talk impacts our everyday lives, what positive self-talk looks like, how to change our self-talk for the positive, and much more.

    8 Ways To Change Your Self-Talk For A Healthy Mind
    Synopsis

    Agree or not, we all spend some time talking to our own selves. What we often don’t realise is how our self-talk affects how we feel and behave. Read this article to know how our self-talk impacts our everyday lives, what positive self-talk looks like, how to change our self-talk for the positive, and much more.

    “I’m not good enough for this", "I’m a horrible person, what if they judge me?” There are so many moments when we become self-critical and think like this. However, there are also times when we give ourselves a pep talk by positively affirming ourselves. It may look like, “I got this, I look beautiful today”; or “I have worked hard for this and deserve to be appreciated.”

    There is some kind of internal or external monologue that always stays with us in the form of these narratives that we may consider our self-talk. Self-talk or private speech is considered a form of intrapersonal communication, i.e., a way to speak with ourselves that influences our daily lives and our mental health.

    Experiences Shape Self-Talk

    Self-talk originates from our thoughts, our life experiences, and how other people talk to us, especially in our early development years. “You are a good boy!”; “You did this wrong, you are a bad girl!”; “You should be doing this” ;“You should not be doing that” etc. Over a period of time, we internalise these narratives and they begin to shape our thought processes.

    A primary schooler who is unable to figure out the solution to a math problem might say “I am so bad at this, I can’t do anything”. For a teenager, who goes through a plethora of changes while they learn to establish their autonomy and identity, even a small remark, a judgement, or a social conflict may seem like the end of the world, and they begin thinking like “Nobody gets me!”

    Healthy self-affirmations (self-talk) have been associated positively with academic achievement for they reduce the decline in the GPA of the students who felt left out at college (Layous et al., 2017). Positive self-talk has also proven to reduce health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015).

    Self-Talk And Everyday Life

    How does our self-talk impact our day-to-day lives? Let us understand a few ways.

    Self-Esteem

    Our thoughts and feelings are intertwined. How we talk to ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves, and vice-versa. The more we talk positively about ourselves, the more positive we feel. The more critical or negative we are in our thoughts about ourselves, the more negative we are likely to feel.

    Relationships

    What we think of ourselves in different roles that we play impacts the quality of the relationships we have. A healthy inner narrative reflects in the way we nurture our relationships.

    Decisions We Make

    A lot of times we lean into our inner voice, our intuition when we have to make decisions. We all have seen in the cartoon series Tom & Jerry how whenever Tom is in a dilemma, an angel Tom and a devil Tom appear on his shoulders. Those are the expressions of Tom's desires and morals that take the shape of his own self-talk, trying to evaluate options before making a decision. Negative self-talk may lead us to take decisions which may not be in our best interests.

    Perceptions Of Outside World

    Our inner and outer worlds are interlinked. How we perceive things that happen around us is influenced by our own perspective, our biases, our attitudes, our belief systems. All of this is a reflection of our inner thought process.

    Our Mood

    Our self-talk and our mood share the most direct relationship. Since thoughts and feelings are interlinked, the more negative the self-talk is, the more likely it is that we feel low, irritable, and sad. The more we talk positively to ourselves, the better our mood will be.

    self talk, positive self talk, talking to yourself, talking about yourself, examples of positive self talk, self talk psychology, talking to yourself psychologyPositive Self-Talk Leads To A Good Mood

    Also Read | Self-Care Tips To Feel Happy And Rejuvenated

    What Positive Self-Talk Looks Like

    Positive self-talk/self-affirmations may look like the following.

    • I choose to be happy.
    • My life is taking place right here, right now.
    • I’m grateful that I am surrounded by amazing friends and family.
    • I am resilient, strong, and brave.
    • Nobody but me decides how I feel.
    • I am in charge of my thoughts, and I don’t judge myself.
    • I accept my flaws and love myself for who I am.

    Also Read | Start Journaling, Manage Stress

    Making Self-Talk Helpful

    Now, let us look at a few ways of making our self-talk more helpful.

    Check The Triggers

    At times, there might be situations wherein you would find yourself in a spiral of self-doubt or negative thoughts. For example, it could be your maths class, your exam day, a conflict with a friend, or a stage performance. Being able to identify these situations can help you address the negative self-talk on a deeper level and prepare better for the future.

    Reflect Deeper

    In order to manage the negative self-talk and foster a positive one, be curious about the hidden feelings behind it. Ask yourself “What makes me say that about myself?”, “Did something happen that is making me feel negative?”, “Does anyone else I know also feel the same way that I do?”, “What can be done to bring a change in the concern I am facing so that I feel better?"

    Look For The Fun Elements

    In the present era of memes, dark humour, and funny animal videos, a little bit of laughter goes a long way in helping us navigate through crisis. It is about finding that silver lining by making a way to express the angst and share it with like-minded people. This can be a way to lighten up your mood and engage less in negative self-talk.

    Filter Out Pessimistic People

    Look around and observe the kind of people you are surrounding yourself with. Our inner narrative can get influenced by how others around us talk or behave. We may also imbibe their emotions. The more negative or pessimistic they appear the more it is going to impact our thought process. Learn to establish healthy boundaries with such people by filtering out what you want to hear and what you don’t. Lean more towards the people who are positive and cheerful.

    Practice The ‘Pep Talk’

    Inculcating positive affirmations in the form of inspirational quotes, a selfie, or a post-it with a positive reminder can be helpful. There are a lot of places to practice that. For example, we spend a good amount of alone time in our bathrooms. That is also the time we get to be with our thoughts. Look into the mirror and tell yourself all good things, and embrace the way you look. Have some motivational quotes placed on your work desk or your study table. It is not just the people around us, but also the things around us that boost our self-talk.

    Also Read | Learn How To Prioritise And Manage Time

    Self-Help Books

    There are many self-help books available that are full of interesting insights and guide self-development. Spare some time to read and apply the insights into your daily narrative.

    self talk, positive self talk, talking to yourself, talking about yourself, examples of positive self talk, self talk psychology, talking to yourself psychologyReading Self-Help Books Can Help Improve Your Self-Talk

    Refrain From Comparing

    This is an essential habit to practice in any sphere of life. Comparison is a thief of joy, indeed. If you would notice your negative self-talk closely, it would mostly be comparisons. It may not necessarily be with someone else but could be with your own standards of being! Hint- the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’. Telling yourself that you are only a human being who is evolving everyday helps in shifting the focus from comparison to growth.

    The S-P-C- (Start Small-Practice-Consistent)

    Rather than aiming for a 180- degree transformation, start small and build up gradually. Needless to say that developing a healthy inner narrative requires consistent practice, and being intentional with the change and growth you are trying to bring.

    Should You Seek Help?

    You must take note of when your self-talk may circle out of the realm of ‘normalcy’ and start to hamper your daily life functioning. Some signs to watch out for could be the following.

    • Your self-talk is taking the shape of irrational negative thoughts.
    • Your self-talk is intrusive, obsessive, and causing dysfunction.
    • Your self-talk is incoherent murmuring to yourself.
    • Your self-talk seems to be happening with an imaginary person or nobody around (hallucinations).

    Whether or not we realise it, our self-talk is a crucial determinant of our happiness levels. So, try changing your self-talk for the better and see many desirable changes coming about.

    Also Read | How To Help Your Child Nurture Their Mental Health

    Sanskriti Khera is a Counselling Psychologist, with five years of extensive hands-on experience in helping young adults navigate through social and emotional concerns. Her approach to counselling is person-centered, trauma-informed, and insight-oriented. She was formerly Counsellor at the Ashoka Centre For Well-Being, Ashoka University, Sonepat. Currently, she is Consultant with Daffodils Therapy Studio, New Delhi.

    • Cognition
    • Cognitive science
    • Neuropsychological assessment
    • Psychological concepts
    • Psychology
    • Mental processes
    • Concepts in metaphysics
    • Behavioural sciences
    • Thought
    • Metaphysics of mind

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