The Importance of Positive Self-Talk

by Liz Allen

Sticks and stones can break my bones - but words will never hurt me.

Or so they say.

This childhood chant was one of my favorite comebacks as a kid, but the older I get the more I realize it's just not true. Words DO hurt! In fact they often hurt worse than physical pain.

Think about a fight you've had with someone you love. When things heat up and hurtful words are can cut deep!

What about that colleague at work that you're in a not-so-secret daily competition with...if they poke fun at something you're insecure about - queue the waterworks - right?

How about when you're in the dressing room trying on a new outfit mumbling to your reflection in disapproval - how bad do you start to feel about that shopping trip?

Now - how do all of these situations compare to stubbing your toe? The pain of a throbbing foot may fade, but how long do these negative conversations affect your mood? The negative effects of a painful conversations can far outweigh the memory of an accidental (and minor) foot injury.

The biggest problem with hurtful words is that we have no control over what other people say to us. On the contrary - we do have full control over what we say to ourselves. Dialing into your inner-dialogue and addressing any and all negative self-talk is a very important first step towards emotional well-being and overall happiness.

When we speak negatively to ourselves, we alter our mindset. Constantly putting ourselves down, calling ourselves names and insulting our efforts can very quickly lead us down a spiral of self-doubt. In other words, if we hear those insults often enough - we're going to start to believe what we say. So how do we keep our mind out of the gutter and self-confidence high?

A daily focus on positive self-talk.

Speak to yourself the way you'd speak to your bestie

Isn't it true that we can somehow communicate with our besties in a way that's brutally honest but simultaneously supportive and kind? We need to learn the same delicate balance when speaking to ourselves. Rather than shaming ourselves when we feel like failures, we need to give ourselves a break!

"You work so hard and you've got a lot going on! Everyone makes mistakes. You'll learn from this and do even better next time! Things will turn out just fine."

Remember, the ones you love are watching

I'm the kinda gal that often talks to myself. I know I can't be alone in this. Often, my "self-talk" doesn't stay within my brain - rather it comes right out of my mouth. Now, if you're like me and have littles walking around the house, you've gotta be extra careful about what you say. They hear the words, they feel the tone. Children are especially impressionable while they are developing emotionally, and them overhearing negative self-talk sets a precedent.

Flip the script

Choose your words carefully. Just a slight modification in our word choices can really change the way we feel.

  • "Yes" over "No"
  • "Sometimes" over "Never"
  • "I Can" over "I Can't"
  • "I will" over "I wont"
  • "You're Able" over "Fake it til you make it"
  • "I Am" over "I'm Not"

Hit the reset button

If there is enough negative self-talk going on, the mind can feel like a noisy place. Once the noise reaches a certain "volume" it's hard to turn it down. Consider hitting the reset button. Giving yourself a moment to quiet (or shift) the mind will allow you to start fresh!

  • Find a guided meditation
  • Take a cat nap
  • Do a breathing exercise
  • Go on a technology free walk
  • Count your blessings and journal your gratitude

If we want to elevate our daily moods and increase happiness, that positivity has to start from within. We could all use a gentle reminder to treat ourselves with more kindness. 

How could you improve your inner-dialogue?