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Self-talk can be very powerful – it is the inner voice that tells us what to think of ourselves, and can affect your self esteem and choices.
It is common knowledge that we should eat properly and exercise for good health. However, I feel that it isn’t usually mentioned that we also need to have a healthy mind and to watch our self-talk.
We are always talking to ourselves in our mind, unless we are in deep meditation.
Notice the chatter—the self-talk—in your mind. What does it sound like? Is it positive or negative? Does it make you feel good or otherwise? Negative thoughts create an energy that feels quite different from the energy that positive thoughts produce. This energy not only affects you emotionally but also physically, in your body as well as your surroundings. People sensitive to energy can pick up on the vibe you are sending out with your thoughts.
Would you tell a ten-year-old girl the things you say to yourself? How would it make a ten-year-old girl feel? That is exactly how it would make you feel. There is no difference.
For example, imagine you told a ten-year-old girl that she is stupid, ugly, fat, and useless—how would this make that ten-year-old girl feel? Would she feel confident and lovable? NOT! What does that ten-year-old girl need to hear? How would positive, approving statements make her feel? That is how you need to talk to yourself to start the journey of kindness and love toward yourself.
This is a part of living a healthy life. You matter. Your feelings matter. You deserve to feel good so be gentle with yourself and nurture yourself. Thoughts can make you or break you. I want to encourage you to be aware of your thoughts. If it’s not a kind thought or voice in your head, tell the thought to STOP and say, “That’s not helpful for me.” You can even imagine a stop sign in your mind.
There are many different types of negative thoughts one can have. As indicated on the website cognitivetherapyguide.org, the four main types of negative thinking are:
Do any of the above types of thoughts sound familiar to you? Other common types of negative thinking are:
That is a lot of stuff we could be thinking to make us feel not great. You have the power to stop these thoughts and even change these thoughts to something more real and more positive.
One strategy is to challenge your negative self-talk.
Cognitive behavioural strategies have been researched and found to help people with anxiety and depression feel more positively about themselves. With the cognitive behavioural approach, one is taught that what you think affects what you feel, and in turn, affects your behaviour. If you want to change your behaviour or feel better, you have to change your thoughts.
You cannot change or challenge a thought unless you are aware that you are thinking it. So awareness and being mindful is the first step. Make a conscious effort to notice your thoughts. It takes practice to be aware of what are you thinking. A hint that you may have some negative self-talk is to notice how you are feeling. If you are feeling sad, scared, or angry, you most likely have a thought in your mind that isn’t helpful.
So when you notice that you are feeling sad, for example, ask yourself, “What am I thinking right now?” Try to get to the deeper thought, which may take the form of a negative or critical “I am . . .” statement. Once you are aware of the thought, you can try to stop it or you can challenge it with evidence. Usually this negative self talk is not even true! However, you believe it especially when it is left unmonitored in your mind. So be mindful and take control of the ‘inner bully’/negative self-talk rather than the thoughts having control over you.
There are many resources and professionals out there that can teach you how to challenge your negative self-talk and help you feel good. I encourage you to monitor your self-talk and to speak to yourself with kindness. I feel this should be a part of everyone’s self-care regime.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay
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Kimi Combow-Gill lives in the Vancouver area of BC, Canada. A therapist for over
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