What is your predominant self-talk? Or as I like to call it your ‘internal chatterbox’. Our patterns of negative or positive self-talk start in childhood and can affect us in many ways, including how we experience stress in our lives. The good news is that you can turn the volume down on your ‘internal chatterbox’ or change your self-talk at any time.
The first step towards change is to become aware of what your negative dialogue is and how often you say negative things in your head.
To help you become more conscious of this you can:
Write A Journal – Either carry a journal around with you and jot down negative comments when you think them, or write a general summary of your thoughts at the end of the day noting when you had the negative thoughts, what you were doing, where you were and who you were with.
Thought-Stopping – As you catch yourself saying something negative in your mind, stop your thought mid-stream by saying to yourself “Stop!” If you can say this aloud it will be more powerful and will make you more aware of how many times you are stopping negative thoughts and also note where they come in.
Rubber Band Snap – A therapeutic trick is to keep a rubber band around your wrist. As you notice negative self-talk, pull the band and let it snap against your wrist. It may hurt a bit, but will serve as a negative consequence that will make you more aware of your thoughts and help to stop them.
Once you’re aware of your internal dialogue you can begin to replace negative self-talk with something more positive.
Here are some ways you can change it:
Milder Wording – Using milder or more neutral words can really help your experience of a situation. Use words like ‘discomfort’ instead of ‘pain’, or ‘don’t like’ instead of ‘hate’, or ‘annoyed’ instead of ‘angry’.
Change Negative to Positive – When you find yourself complaining about something, rethink your assumptions. Are you assuming something is a negative event when it isn’t? For example, having your plans cancelled at the last minute can be seen as a negative, but what you do with your newly freed up time can be what you choose to make of it.
Reword Statements to Ask How – Statements like “I can’t handle this!” or “It’s impossible!” are damaging because they increase your stress in any given situation and they stop your mind from searching for solutions. If you ask a question instead, your mind will always search for an answer. Try asking: “How can I handle this better?” or “How is this possible?” to open up your mind to new possibilities.
Developing more positive self-talk will bring more positive energy into your life and you’ll gain control of your mind to boost productivity, self-esteem and relieve stress.