Make your self-talk work for you


Things go wrong. We fail. No matter our age or talent, we all face adversity from time to time. Learning to respond with optimism and self-mastery can be the difference between a productive and joy filled life and one caught up in hopelessness.

The messages you say to yourself define how you will interpret an experience, the feelings it will arouse and ultimately how you will respond. Most of us are in never-ending mental chatter. Often it is polluted with guilt about our past or anxiety about our future.

Our actions are stimulated by our thoughts. If we can change the way we think, we can begin to change the actions we take.

An optimistic mindset is empowering. You are able to take responsibility and be realistic about situations. Its more than just positive thinking, it’s a constructive, realistic mindset that enables a person to approach adversity as an opportunity to grow. It promotes empowerment and resilience.

When you find yourself speaking in a negative way, ask yourself to think about evidence that contradicts your negative view and think of alternative interpretations to a situation.

Firstly, be aware of the thoughts that are not positive. Recently, I was surprised to discover deep buried emotions from negative thoughts that I had for fewer than 10 minutes. Without awareness, I would have carried the hurt and anger inside. Awareness helped me to bring them out to the open for me to deal with. A great method that I have also found useful is to have a phrase to say, such as,  “Stop Stop ” each time I find myself saying something negative, whether in my mind or verbally. My favourite thing to do is to replace the negative thought with three positive thoughts that are related to the situation or how I feel about myself.

Secondly, I like to use affirmations and prayer. These positive statements usually reflect a desired outcome or goal. Try finding a sentence, phrase or prayer that you can repeat that is believable and focused. It’s Ok to feel sceptical at first; if you persevere your scepticism will give rise to new thought patterns and a new set of beliefs. Remember change takes time and it’s about progression, not perfection.

Thirdly, replace negative influences with positive ones– It is vital that you recognize external negative factors in your life which may be holding your thoughts captive. For instance, your mental state can become toxic by being around friends who are negative. If you are not aware, you will start to embrace their thoughts as your own. Therefore, be observant to what your negative influences are. If they come from certain friends, limit your contact to them as much as you can. Refrain from talking about your plans with people who will be unsupportive of your dreams and goals.

Instead surround yourself with thoughts and actions from people who will empower you.

Fourthly, confront your fears– Ask yourself what you are so afraid of? What’s the worst case scenario? Take a step-by-step approach in challenging your fears and see if there is any way round to looking at things more confidently. When you challenge your fears, you will often see that the worst case scenario is not as bad as you think. In fact, the benefits of change are worth the risk. Your inner talk begins to change at this point. What may be helpful is to concentrate on steps you can take in the present. If you find yourself becoming stuck, stop and say, “What can I do right now?”

So make a choice to fill your awareness with positive images and thoughts. Make it a conscious habit. Basically take your mind back every time it goes off track with its thoughts. Start with being grateful for what you have at the moment and your self-talk will also transform to be in alignment with one of happiness. A state of gratitude does wonders to your psyche.

Substituting self-talk from a negative to a more positive one is not going to happen instantaneously. If your mind has deep-rooted habits of thinking negatively, it will take some work and time. SO what are you waiting for?