Be mindful of your self-talk. It’s a conversation with the universe.David James
The Power of Words
You may have heard of the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” While this phrase can be useful, especially for children to learn that they can tolerate disparaging and critical words that may be projected towards them, and there is some truth to this statement, it is also not completely accurate.
The whole truth is that words are powerful. Words can be helpful, and words can be hurtful. Words have the power to inspire and encourage, and also to tear down and destroy. The interesting thing about the power of words is that they are powerful regardless of their source – meaning they are powerful no matter whoever says them, including if they are words said to ourselves. This kind of talk, from oneself to oneself, is called self-talk and is extremely powerful.
What is Self-Talk?
As mentioned above, self-talk are the words that we say to ourselves. These words can be out loud, like normal conversation that others would be able to hear, or they can be the internal dialogue that we are saying to ourselves without others being able to hear.
Even if we are unaware of it, we engage in self-talk all of the time, almost constantly we are telling ourselves different things. The things we tell ourselves can be positive, negative, or neutral.
Positive self-talk is encouraging and has a positive connotation. It may be uplifting, encouraging, and optimistic. On the other hand, negative self-talk is pessimistic, cynical, and can be damaging. Neutral self-talk is neither positive or negative, but instead may be informative or instructive.
It may seem apparent that positive self-talk is the best type of self-talk, but why is that the case?
Self-talk can provide encouragement or discouragement depending on the nature of the self-talk.
Negative self-talk is discouraging, whereas positive self-talk is encouraging. Positive self-talk uplifts individuals and can give one the inspiration and boost to accomplish their goals and what they have set out to do. Positive self-talk, like the name suggests, brings a positive light to situations, regardless of whether the situation itself is positive, negative, or neutral.
Even if the situation is negative, one can still have an optimistic outlook when they say positive things to themselves about how they will navigate and get through the situation.
Not only is positive self-talk encouraging, it can help an individual keep going and pursuing difficult tasks. Phrases like “Keep going!” and “You can do it!” are examples of positive self-talk that are uplifting and can encourage someone to keep going through difficult times.
This is diametrically opposed to phrases like “You can’t do it”, or, “This is too hard for you” that we may say to ourselves that cause us to quit trying as hard or give up altogether. Self-talk can be a powerful tool to keep one persevering through tough times and seemingly impossible tasks.
Positive self-talk has a capability of focusing one in on what is important at the time. On the other hand, negative self-talk can be debilitating and distracting. If one focuses on the negative and says negative things to themselves, this can distract from what they are trying to accomplish.
However, if an individual can remain positive and state things that are helpful to themselves, they may be able to focus in on the task at hand at a greater level with less distraction. Often times the negative things that we say to ourselves can lead to perseverating or ruminating on these thoughts. It is also possible that negative self-talk can lead to going down a rabbit hole, chasing one negative thought after another and completely derail someone from their desired performance.
Calming Down and Coping with Stress
Positive self-talk can also help with difficult times, including times of stress, anger, frustration, and sadness. Choosing to look at the bright side of negative situations and saying things that are uplifting can help alleviate stress and refocus the brain on things that are good instead of things that are bad.
When one is angry, the things that one says to oneself can perpetuate the anger, or can help stymie and calm the anger down. Positive self-talk would do the latter, would help an individual relax and break from their anger. Using self-talk in a positive manner to cope with stress and other negative emotions will not only help our attitude and mindset, but also can help with performance as well.
The Benefits of Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk is extremely beneficial and can be powerful for impacting our mood, thoughts, and behaviors. Engaging in positive self-talk can encourage us to be the best version of ourselves regardless of the situation and can help us persevere through even the most difficult times.
If you are skeptical about self-talk, try monitoring your own self-talk throughout the day and notice the things you say to yourself! If you are noticing a lot of negative, pessimistic, damaging self-talk try changing some of the things you tell yourself to positive things and see what that change can do in your life!