Restorations Therapy Blog

Negative Vs. Positive Self-Talk

by on Tuesday, May 19th, 2020


Self-talk is our inner monologue, our inner voice, and how we talk to ourselves, much like a constant running dialogue inside of our heads. You may not even be aware that you are talking to yourself inside of your head, but it is something that we all do. This dialogue may involve instructing ourselves during a task, observing random things in our environment, or situations, or it may merely be self-talk. Self-talk is crucial to our wellbeing and has a profound impact on how we feel and what we do. Self-talk may be positive or negative, and being mindful of which way you talk to yourself helps you make changes within yourself that positively affect your mental wellbeing.

How Self-Talk Affects Our Mental Health

         If your inner monologue is negative, and you put yourself down, you will feel bad about yourself in turn. Thus, if you’re feeling depressed, these negative thoughts about yourself make it even harder for you to pick yourself back up. Our brains are also hardwired to recall negative experiences over the positive ones. Conversely, if your inner voice is positive, you will feel good about yourself, and reap the benefits of positive self-talk, such as:

  • Improved wellbeing
  • Stress management skills
  • Higher self-esteem levels
  • Reductions in negative symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and personality disorders
  • Enhanced body image, which may positively impact those battling eating disorders
  • Decreases in the risk of self-harm or suicide

How to Stop Yourself from Engaging in Negative Self-Talk

         Since self-talk, whether positive or negative, is a part of us, it may take months to change the habits that our minds develop.

To try and stop negative self-talk, try these tips:

  • Be mindful of what you’re saying to yourself, recognizing when it is negative.
  • Ask yourself if what you’re saying is accurate, and you will find that it often is not.
  • Practice putting your thoughts into perspective by asking yourself, “so what?”
  • Ask yourself if there is a more helpful thought you can use to replace the negative one.

Positive Self-Talk

         Positive self-talk involves showing yourself compassion, love, and understanding of what you have been through and who you are. Our internal dialogue when it is positive involves thoughts such as “I can do this,” or “I can learn from my mistakes.” Furthermore, you may improve your positive self-talk by doing the following:

  • Practice positivity by seeing the glass half full instead of glass half empty
  • Identify your strengths in your self-talk, and compliment yourself
  • Practice thinking good thoughts about yourself
  • Act, look and think in positive ways

         Furthermore, the benefits of positive self-talk include:

  • Stress reduction – research shows that people who think more positively may be more likely to engage in positive self-talk, as well as utilize more useful coping strategies during stressful situations. The reason positive self-talk helps with stressful situations is that it enables you to deal with challenges confidently, and you know that you did the best you could. Dealing with circumstances with an “I can do it” attitude rather than a negative one opens one’s mind to new ways of problem-solving.
  • Boosts in confidence and resilience – research reveals that people who are highly optimistic and exhibit positive self-esteem have a higher likelihood of achieving their goals, as well as making good grades, and even recover quicker from surgery. Furthermore, engaging in regular positive self-talk may help you feel more confident in achieving goals because you believe that you can reach them.
  • Building better relationships – when someone is optimistic and positive, self-assured, and content with themselves, they exude confidence, and these traits reflect positively on those people around them. Furthermore, studies find that couples with higher levels of optimism reveal more significant levels of cooperation within their relationships and positive consequences.

         No one has the same positive self-talk strategies, so it is crucial to practice different approaches and find ones that work for you. Some examples of phrases you may use to begin practicing positive self-talk include:

  • I have the power to change my thoughts and perceptions.
  • I am proud of myself for attempting something new.
  • I am proud of how far I have come, even though I have a long way to go still.
  • I can do this.
  • I am strong and capable of anything.
  • Tomorrow is a brand new day, and another chance to try again.
  • I will give this my all.
  • I will see to it I do my best, and that is enough.
  • I can only control myself.
  • I cannot control others and what they do, think, or say.
  • I have an opportunity to try something new.
  • I can learn from any situation.
  • I can grow as a person.

The Psychology of Self-Talk

         Psychologically, researchers theorize self-talk as a mix of unconscious and conscious biases and beliefs that we have about ourselves and the world in general. Sigmund Freud came up with the idea that everyone has unconscious and conscious levels of thought in which our unconscious thoughts influence our behavior, and we don’t even realize it is happening. Research points to the fact that positive self-talk helps promote behavioral changes such as combatting depression and anxiety, overcoming body dysmorphic disorder, and even losing weight. Negative self-talk may even directly relate to psychological issues such as aggression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Are You Seeking Help with Your Self-Talk?

         Negative self-talk can lead to dangerous paths in our lives, such as substance misuse, to self-medicate the negative thoughts away. Thus, negative self-talk may lead to substance use disorders (SUDs). Positive self-talk is a way to reframe how you view things and situations in your life. Furthermore, it helps you approach life with a “can do” attitude that you got this, and if things don’t go well, you will learn from life’s challenges and do your best in every situation. Believing in yourself is a powerful tool in leading a fulfilling life. If you are seeking help improving your self-talk, call us today at (720) 446-6585.

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