When things aren't going your way, or you're feeling unhappy with yourself, one of the things you may want to analyze is how you speak to yourself—your internal language.
Think about it. We often react to other people's tone of voice when they talk to us – how do you feel when someone pays you a compliment? Pretty good, right? Maybe it even lifts your mood for the rest of the day.
What about when someone is mean to you? When someone tells you something rude or hurtful, how does that make you feel? You probably spend a good amount of time analyzing what he or she said, and it puts you in a state of discomfort – inside out.
So – if someone else's words can change your mood from good to bad, and vice versa, why would your own internal words be any different?
Actually – they are. Studies show that how you speak to yourself has a far more significant effect on your overall well-being than when someone else tells you the same thing. I.e., a kind word or affirmation from yourself – to yourself – means everything. We will never be able to control other people and their opinion, but we can control ourselves. Yet we pay more attention to what other people say to us than what we tell ourselves. It's especially true when it comes to negativity.
Examples of negative self-talk
“Researchers estimate that we think about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day – and that about 80% of those thoughts are negative. That is a crazy amount of negative self-talk!”
It means that our internal dialogue is incredibly important. The fact that we automatically lean towards the negative side means we should pay close attention to our thought patterns, and try to shift as much as possible to a more positive note.
Examples of negative self-talk would include;
- I'll never win/get promoted/find the right partner.
- I always manage to screw things up.
- Constantly comparing yourself to others. I'm not as strong/fast/smart/good-looking/fun/confident/creative as…
- My weight will never change.
- Predicting worst possible outcome etc.
If these thoughts continuously keep appearing and one thought leads to another, you're creating a general thought pattern that will not serve you one bit. If you recognize some of the below issues, your internal tone of voice may very well be the culprit.
- Lack of energy, a general feeling of fatigue.
- Digestive problems
- Trouble focusing
- Lowered immune system
- Trouble sleeping
- Weaker muscles
- Stress levels go up
How can we shift our mindset?
Luckily we all have a choice – dial down the negative and turn up the positive self-talk. Most of us try to go from a low point by telling ourselves common expressions like; I did my very best, I'm proud of myself for trying, or I deserve love and respect like everyone else. While those typical self-boosters are all important, try to get into the habit of telling yourself random, positive things throughout the day as they happen. It doesn't always have to be about turning negativity into positivity – it can come out of a neutral place too.
- Damn, I played well today.
- Wow, this jacket fits me really well.
- Holy moly, my lasagna tastes like heaven.
- I'm actually managing stuff today; I deserve a…
- That was nice/smart/well done/kind of me to do
If you make it a habit to talk to yourself the way you would talk to a dear friend or family member, the benefits are endless. We are so used to being self-critical and hard on ourselves, we don't even realize how harmful it can be. Give it a try!
Benefits of positive self-talk;
- Better physical well-being
- Greater life satisfaction
- Increased vitality
- Reduced pain
- Enhances focus for better athletic performance
- Reduced anxiety and depression