Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The art of positive self-talk

Self-depreciation is the default setting for most of us. We see only the negatives or areas for improvement, rather than our many qualities and skills.

Ironically, when we see this same behaviour in others, we criticise them for it: "If only she didn’t put herself down so much", we say, or "why can’t he see what a great catch he is".

The fact is, most of us are humble people. Bragging and blowing our own trumpet does not come easily. And that’s fine – arrogance is not a good quality – however, what we could all do with is some positive self-talk. It’s time to reassure ourselves of our own abilities and recognise the progress we’re making.

Positive self-talk makes us feel good about ourselves and can push us to perform even better – fulfilling our true potential. It’s the optimistic voice on our shoulder that fosters our self-belief and drives us to do bigger, better things with our lives.

On the flip side, negative self-talk, brings us down. It dampens our enthusiasm and stifles our performance. It doesn’t rejoice in our successes, rather focuses on what we didn’t do, or where we could have improved.

All of us could benefit from more positive self-talk in our lives. When it comes to how to do it, this article from Psychology Today suggests that using the third person in self-talk can help you step back and think more objectively about our responses and emotions. It can also help you reduce stress and anxiety.

All too often, our inner voice is predominately negative. We tend to remember the negative comments from our childhood and school days. The problem with negative comments is that they can become self-fulfilling. We replay them over and over to the point that we believe them to be true.

The sad truth is that we are often much harder on ourselves than we would ever be on other people. It takes a lot of positive self-talk to override our negative conditioning, but it can be done. Look at this article from Psychcentral for some examples of the things positive people tell themselves.

As a bare minimum, we should aim not to say anything to ourselves that we wouldn’t say to other people. Let’s afford ourselves the same respect and self-restraint that we would direct towards others.

Positive self-talk will not stop us from messing up from time to time. We all make mistakes. Positive self-talk is not about brushing over the negative or challenging events that happen in our life, it is about looking at what happens to us with a constructive eye, and with a realistic perspective. It’s about recognising the truth in situations and looking at how we can learn from our mistakes to help us grow in to better human beings. To expect perfection in yourself - or anyone else - is unrealistic. So let’s try to be kind to ourselves - always!

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