How to Change Your Life with Positive Self-Talk
Did you know that positive self-talk can lead to a more satisfying life, less stress, a better immune system, and even a longer life? It’s true! So how do we add more positivity to our inner voice? It can be challenging to change our habits. However, harnessing the power of positive self-talk can literally change your life.
If you are ready for a positive change, keep reading for ways to retrain your thoughts into being more controlled and productive. With practice, you can reframe every circumstance and see improvements emotionally, behaviorally, socially, academically, and beyond.
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Below, we will give a more in-depth self-talk definition and steps you can begin taking today to start your practice of positivity. In addition, we will give you plenty of self-talk examples so you can fully apply this advice and be on your way to a better life!
To retrain our minds, we need to fully understand what self-talk is. Once we know what it is, we can better identify ways to change our current habits. So what is self-talk?
Self-talk is the inner conversation in our heads. It is the stream of thoughts and phrases in our minds–they can either be helpful or hurtful. Whether said aloud or not, these thoughts and words affect the way we feel. Likewise, this process affects the way we act and interpret situations.
Let’s review this idea by first using negative self-talk examples. For example, say you apply for a new job or position, but you are rejected or denied. A negative inner voice would say, “You shouldn’t have even tried. You just embarrassed yourself.” This way of speaking to yourself would likely lead to not trying again and staying stuck in your current position.
Alternatively, positive self-talk examples would sound like this, “I may not have gotten it, but I am proud of myself for trying,” or “I learned a lot from trying, and I will know what to do differently next time”. Speaking to yourself this way about this situation could lead to seeking out more opportunities and allowing yourself to grow.
Rephrasing your inner monologue with a more positive, productive spin changes the way you feel, and ultimately the way you act. Now that we thoroughly understand the self-talk definition, we can dive into using this powerful tool to better our lives.
Steps for Developing Positive Self-Talk
Self-talk can be positive–making us feel like we CAN grow, achieve, learn, change–or negative–making us feel like we CAN’T. Luckily, we have a choice in the way we talk to ourselves. Although it takes practice, using the self-talk tips below can give you a boost of positivity and ultimately change your life!
So let’s get to work. Here’s what you need to do to develop the habit of positive self-talk.
1. Observe the way you talk to yourself.
The first step toward making a lasting change in developing positive self-talk is to bring intentional awareness to the voice in your head. Becoming aware of your current thought patterns will bring subconscious thoughts to the forefront. This will allow you to deal with negative tendencies head-on. For example, you may not realize how much of your day you spend beating yourself up.
Before you can change, you have to identify the problem. Taking time to observe your inner dialogue throughout the day will help you identify where you can improve. Do you notice yourself saying mostly helpful or hurtful words when you pay attention?
Practice: Choose a day to acknowledge the helpful and hurtful words you use. It is eye-opening to tally up each type. Some self-talk examples and phrases to keep an eye out for include: I am, I can, I will, I do, I’m not, I never, I always, I can’t, I won’t.
2. Repeat positive affirmations.
Affirmations are positive statements repeated word-for-word. These positive phrases train our brains to reframe situations more positively. When we internalize positive affirmations, we can use them to construct more hopeful narratives given challenging situations.
Rehearse the following affirmation to yourself: The more I practice, the better I get. This phrase is simple and concise. You can apply it to a variety of situations, so rehearsing it trains your brain to override negative thoughts, replacing them with this phrase. So the next time you get frustrated and begin to think, “This is too hard, I can’t do it,” you will be able to reprogram your mind to think instead, “This is hard, but the more I practice, the better I get.”
Practice: Use a list of affirmations, or buy a physical copy of affirmations. In the morning, read the affirmation word for word. Then, repeat the affirmation as you begin your day. Think about it, and continue saying it to yourself as your day unfolds.
Doing this daily will give you useful tools for replacing hurtful words with helpful ones. The affirmations will give you the inspiration to rephrase negative thoughts.
3. Replace hurtful words with helpful ones.
Our inner monologues need a complete overhaul. All negative words, thoughts, and phrases need to be replaced with ones that engender positivity. Words that imply we are UNable (can’t, don’t, won’t, etc.) need to be immediately substituted for words that express that we are ABLE (can, do, will, etc.).
When a situation seems too hard, we say, “I can’t do this,” then we feel angry and sorry for ourselves and withdraw our effort. This is a prime example of how our thoughts affect our feelings, which also affect our actions. So if we can stop negative thoughts right away, replacing them with helpful ones, we can feel empowered to keep trying. This example is exactly how we change from unmotivated, with low achievement, to someone hopeful and successful.
Spinning every situation toward positivity can be difficult. We often confuse positive self-talk with never saying our true feelings. However, we can acknowledge life’s frustration, anger, and disappointment while remaining hopeful and confident.
This can be seen in the following self-talk examples.
Say someone mistreats you. Rather than saying, “I never should have trusted her!” you could say, “I would like to set clearer boundaries to avoid this in the future.” In both instances you are frustrated, but there is pure anger with a focus on what you DON’T want in the first example. However, in the second example, you use your experience to better your life the next time you are confronted with a similar situation. This reframing may seem small, but it is life-changing.
Practice: Intercept every negative thought that pops into your head. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, focus on what is right. Rather than saying what you DON’T want, rephrase it for what you DO want.
Before speaking your thoughts out loud, consider if the words will make the listener feel hopeful and encouraged or down and gloomy. So rather than “I never do a good job,” try “I am practicing and seeing improvements every day.”
4. Don’t give up.
When you are calm and happy, it’s easy to read these self-talk examples and see the value. However, implementation is more complicated than it seems. At the moment we are frustrated, disappointed, tired, or hungry, it can be hard to replace harmful words with helpful ones.
Sometimes you may be in a situation, and you do not see a way to rephrase the negative conversation in your head. That’s part of the process of changing! As you continue to repeat daily affirmations, your mind will be rewired to focus on positivity. Then, replacing the pessimistic, counter-productive inner monologue with uplifting words will become more natural.
Your ability to develop the habit of positive self-talk is not based on your age, income, job, or marital status. It is only based on your decision to stay mindful of how your thoughts affect your feelings continuously.
Practice: Tune in to the difference you feel in your body when you rephrase negative thoughts to positive ones. How do you feel when you say, “I will never be able to do all this”? Sad, frustrated feelings come from thoughts that are working against you. Now observe the difference you feel when you instead say, “I know I can do it; I just need to get the right help.” Determined, cheered, inspired feelings come from thoughts that are working for you.
Think about the words you say in your mind and aloud. Would these be words you would say to a child? Are they words that motivate, calm, and encourage? If not, replace them—practice, practice, practice. If you stay consistent with your practice, one-day positive self-talk will flow naturally in your mind, and through the words you speak.
Living a Life of Positivity
Living a life of positivity is not achieved through a better-paying job, a nicer house, having more friends, or losing weight. Instead, a life of positivity is in your grasp regardless of external factors. So if you want a more hopeful, productive, confident existence, it can be yours.
Changing your internal dialogue changes how you feel about yourself, your situation, and the world. This, in turn, changes your motivation and decisions. Positive self-talk will increase your self-esteem and change your behavior.
These are all skills, meaning they are learned. So incorporate the techniques above into your daily life and continuously practice them. Intentionally practicing these skills for positive self-talk will create a new outlook on life and new beliefs about yourself and your potential. Everything is dependent on the words we choose when talking to ourselves!