The Art of Positive Self-Talk
With a world that demands perfection, sometimes the most critical voice is our own. Learning how to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others can work wonders for self-esteem, productivity, and general wellbeing, but positive self-talk is an art - so we've explored how to hone this elusive skill.
To understand positive self-talk, you need to identify your negative thought patterns. Negative thoughts generally fall into a couple of broad categories:
Filtering or Magnifying; Filtering out all the positives from a situation in order to magnify the negative, e.g. even after a productive day at work you find that you only focus on what you didn't achieve
Personalising; Blaming yourself for everything that doesn't go to plan, e.g. your boss didn't reply to an email you sent earlier, so you assume you must have offended them in some way
Catastrophising; Expecting the worst, regardless of logic or reason, e.g. hearing about a new hire and assuming you won't get on
Polarising; You see things as either good or bad, without allowing nuance to influence your perspective, e.g. refusing to acknowledge that getting made redundant can bring with it brand new opportunities
When you begin to recognise your internalised negative behaviours, it makes it easier to break toxic thought patterns and turn them into something more positive. Like all good habits, it takes time, but some starting points include:
Identify your vulnerabilities; taking note of when you're most likely to talk down to yourself - whether the trigger is a situation, a person, or a certain time of day - can make you more aware of when to focus more on how you're speaking to yourself.
Check in with yourself regularly; making a habit of assessing your emotional state and checking in with your mood every couple of hours allows you to nip any negative thoughts in the bud and put a more positive spin on them.
Build a positive, healthy routine; incorporating a wholesome routine in the morning and at night to include exercise, mindfulness, and general self-care will naturally make you more open to being patient with yourself.
Don't take life too seriously; taking a moment to remind yourself that things are rarely that deep, and that almost any situation can elicit a smile in some shape or form will help you move on from negative patterns of thinking
Surround yourself with positivity; being around people who look on the brighter side, and approach problems proactively rather than wallowing in them can be a breath of fresh air, and rub a little of that optimism on you.
Create a bank of affirmations; having a handful of simple phrases that resonate with you can be extremely powerful.
Change your language; speaking to yourself in the same way you would a friend, and switching language like 'I can't' into 'How can I?' can slowly but surely instil positive ways of thinking. Try standing in front of a mirror and pointing out what you think looks good, then moving on before you have time to think about what you don't like.
Positive self talk is an art form that even the most optimistic of us aren't always capable of. Whilst we'll rarely be completely free from criticising ourselves, we can make an effort to pat ourselves on the back when we deserve it. Let us know your thoughts on positive thinking at firstname.lastname@example.org