Self-talk is something that everyone deals with, but almost nobody talks about. It is what tells us what we can and cannot do, leads to whether we have a good or bad day and so much more. It can be a long-running dialogue (mine is like this most of the time) or just small thoughts throughout the day.
How does Self-Talk affect you?
Many of us have not-so-great thoughts about ourselves- maybe not everyday, but definitely from time to time. Sometimes these thoughts become overpowering and it’s not an easy thing to stop. It’s hard to decipher what exactly creates that change- it can be a failed project at work, a breakup, anything that makes you feel negative about yourself. It can be from things that stayed with us from childhood.
When we have constantly bad thoughts about ourselves, we start to talk to ourselves badly.
“You can’t do that.”
“No way you can fit in those jeans. You’re gonna look like a hippo.”
“It’s not happening today. Nobody wants to be around someone who is like Eeyore.”
Get the idea? I’m pretty sure just about everyone reading this has had similar thoughts. I had something similar thoughts to the second example before trying on leggings, and I did not look like a hippo.
Negative self-talk will drag you down eventually. It can make any existing mental health issues worse, potentially trigger one (as in if you were struggling with an anxiety issue and have issues with negative self-talk, it only gets worse.), or just makes you not feel great about yourself in general. This can lead to looking to others for acceptance from others, which is not always healthy.
How can you change your self-talk?
As with many habits, it takes time, and that isn’t always easy. Neither is changing your thought patterns. Even after two years of therapy, I still struggle with this. My therapist has had to remind me many times to “reverse action”, which means acting in the opposite way than I really want to. (This could be its own blog post.)
- Acknowledge that there is a problem with the way you talk to yourself.
- Figure out what you want to tell yourself.
- Find quotes, affirmations, song lyrics…whatever helps to inspire change.
- Stop yourself when you can. It’s hard to catch yourself in the beginning of a change in habit, but the more you pay attention to the things you tell yourself, the easier it will become.
- Find replacements. Instead of negative phrases, find new, positive phrases to tell yourself.
- Find the root of your unhappiness. Maybe it’s time to talk to someone? That can be a friend, family member, etc. It’s good to explore your thoughts, especially when it has to do with your happiness.
- Be nicer to yourself. I have a hard time with this one, but I have learned to laugh at myself when needed. I used to get so upset with myself when I burned dinner. Now, I just make a backup or have my husband bring something home. When you stop being angry at yourself, the load you carry becomes a smidge bit lighter.
- Self-care helps. When you care for yourself physically and mentally, you tend to feel better about yourself.
I don’t always have the answers but I certainly have ideas. This is just one thing that you can change to be a healthier person.