What is self-talk, and why does it matter? In essence, it's your pathway to success or self-sabotage. 

"You live the words you tell yourself in your mind." — Dr. Magdalena Battles.

Self-talk is a powerful force in our lives because it can lead us toward success or self-sabotage. 

An internal narrative that most of us don't spend time thinking about or paying much attention to, self-talk plays a huge role in how we view ourselves and the world around us.  

We talk to ourselves all the time. And, we often don't realize the power that our self-talk has on how we think, feel, and behave in any given situation.

The messages that you give yourself are a narrative. And that narrative affects the way your day unfolds, how you see yourself and others, and the outcomes of your life.

Your tone when speaking to yourself can change your mood and how you respond to what life throws your way. 

In this post, I'm going to share some of my favorite strategies for using self-talk as a tool for changing your self-image, increasing your energy, and achieving your goals.

The benefits of positive self-talk. 

Positive self-talk can be a powerful tool. It affects your self-image, your style, your attitude toward life, and the way you show up. 

Upbeat self-dialogue is shown to be directly correlated to happiness levels and decreased feelings of depression.

Positivity has health benefits, as well, which include things like: 

  • Lowered stress levels
  • Reduced pain 
  • Better immune system function
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Overall improvement in physical wellbeing 
  • Increased vitality and energy

Studies show that when individuals are asked about their mental state before doing something challenging, those who used more positive thoughts during the task accomplished what they set out to do more easily. 

Others whose minds were occupied by negative thoughts leading up to an event or activity struggled.  

A positive self-talk approach to life can help you to feel more confident in achieving your goals, as you fill yourself with the belief that all things are achievable, and when problems do arise, there will be ways around them.

When we are in a negative mood, it is easy to slip into the mindset that every problem will lead us down an inevitable path of failure. But with regular positive self-talk and optimism about your goals, you can stay focused on achieving them no matter what challenges come along for the ride.

How to use self-talk for success.

The way you talk to yourself makes a significant difference in how you think or feel about yourself – in other words, your self-image. 

Your self-image, in turn, will affect how you show up in the world and, therefore, how you succeed in accomplishing your goals. 

Empower yourself with positive self-talk. It will not only give you inner strength but also help when you face difficult situations.

Be in charge of your image and the way others perceive you. Use what makes you unique to build confidence, think positively about yourself, and see how great life can be. When you show up capable, confident, and strong, you will succeed in your endeavors.

Finally, stop comparing yourself to others. No one of us is less than or more than someone else. Comparison can never lead to anywhere good - it can only fill your head with self-doubt and, of course, negative self-talk, which will almost always lead to failure. 

How women sabotage themselves with negative self-talk.

  • "Why does this keep happening to me?" 
  • "How could I be such an idiot?!"
  • "I'll never be as good as her." 
  • “I’m too (old / fat / shy / uneducated / broke) for that” 

Sound familiar? 

You may find yourself making these kinds of statements or asking these kinds of questions when you're feeling trapped or stuck in patterns that create problems in your life and keep you from reaching your goals.  

Perhaps you learned to talk to yourself this way as a result of allowing others to influence your self-image. 

To break the self-sabotage cycle, we must identify what our triggers are so we can positively change them into something productive.

Ways to Stop the cycle of negativity and start using positive self-talk instead.

If you want to stop the self-sabotaging dialogue in your head, the key is understanding why you're doing it — what "needs" it may be filling. 

Then, get creative about identifying healthier ways of getting that need met.

It is only when you understand the need your self-sabotage is filling that you will be able to cultivate alternative self-talk and behaviors to fill that need.

Here's an example: 

Telling yourself that "there's plenty of time" as a rationale for procrastination may be helping you avoid your fear of failure – or your fear of success. 

When you understand that and have compassion for yourself, you'll then be able to flip the switch and speak to yourself with encouragement. 

  • Hey, Beauty- we all fear failure, but failure is sometimes inevitable, and there is always opportunity in it!
  • Sure, success will come with a lot of responsibility and hard work – And, you've got this!

There are many strategies for reducing negative self-talk and upping the energy of your internal dialogue. 

How to change your self-talk so it will lead you towards success, not away from it.

Start by identifying the kind of negative self-talk you engage in and note how often you do it. 

There are four basic types of negative self-talk:

  • Personalizing- self-blame for everything that goes wrong.
  • Polarizing - you see everything in black and white. Everything is good or bad, with no grey areas in between. 
  • Magnifying - when something goes wrong, your entire focus is on the negative, dismissing anything positive about it. 
  • Catastrophizing- you always and only expect the worst in every situation.

One or more of the types of negative self-talk may resonate with you. 

Once you've taken a good look at how and when you speak to yourself negatively, you can begin to turn it around. It will take time and practice, but you'll be delighted at the changes you see in every aspect of your life once you begin to practice positive self-talk.

Identify negative self-talk triggers

For some of us, social situations may trigger us into allowing Negative Nancy to take up space in our heads. 

For others, it may be professional situations. 

Parents may struggle with trying to keep up with the other PTA or pre-school moms.  

Artists and entrepreneurs may be over-critical of everything they create. 

Athletes may feel they always come up short. 

None of us are immune to these tricky situations that trigger the negative voice in our heads. 

Identifying these situations can help you get ahead of them and prepare with positivity in advance. 

Use powerful positive affirmations

Research demonstrates how happy people tend to report using stronger verbal affirmations like "I am" or "I will."

Try creating a habit of reciting positive affirmations to yourself daily. In turn, these affirmations will help you when your unconscious mind starts going off on a negative tangent, as they will guide your self-directed words with love, compassion, support, and encouragement.

Positive affirmations can get us into the habit of positive internal dialogue no matter what is going on. 

Here are two easy things you can do:

  • A regular meditation practice filled with affirmative thoughts will go a long way toward creating the habit of positive self-talk. 
  • Place visual triggers around your home, office, handbag, or car. You can use sticky notes with encouraging and affirming phrases or a positivity vision board. 

These and other practices will help you get into a habit of positive thinking and, therefore, happy chatter in your brain.  

Do it anyway

Vincent Van Gogh said, "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

Practice the art of ignoring that discouraging voice within you that says you cannot do it and replace those thoughts with encouragement and self-confidence by listening instead to the cheerleader in your head. Trust her and power forward- you've got this!

Grow in the gift of gratitude

Start a self-directed gratitude journal. Write down three to five things a day that you're grateful for about yourself

A few examples of this could be: 

"I'm so grateful that I'm a person who loves to read. Because of that, I expand my world, and I am always learning new things." 

"I'm so grateful that I have good habits and therefore am healthy and strong."

"I'm so grateful that I'm able to focus and get things done when I need to."

"I'm so grateful that I am reliable. I show up for myself and others, which contributes to my success."

Flip the switch

Change your negative notions into positive positions on every statement you make to yourself:

  • Instead of saying, "I can't," deliberately change your words to "I can" or "I will."
  • Instead of saying, "this is too hard," be conscientious about saying "Nothing is impossible for me" or – as Maria Forleo says: "Everything is figureoutable." 
  • When you hear yourself saying, "I'm such a loser," change that narrative to: "I CAN win."

Self-talk changes everything for better or for worse- you get to decide.

The truth is, our self-talk can have a much bigger influence on the way we see ourselves and the world around us than most of us realize. It’s important to listen carefully to this inner voice because it will affect your self-image and in turn, affect your entire life.


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