Self Talk Benefits: Discover Its Power!

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Self-talk interacts our conscious mind with our unconscious biases, beliefs, and knowledge. It is the running commentary in the background that influences what you feel, it affects your mood, and determines your course of actions. It could be a positive tool if controlled to produce beneficial results.

What are the benefits of self-talk? The benefits of self-talk are numerous and varied. Primary among it is it helps to manage stress through positivity. Lowering stress levels in the body have restorative impacts on a person’s physical and mental health. More importantly, positive dialogue with yourself is key to unlearning programming from past experiences that have held you back. With self-talk, your brain will be more receptive to new ideas and thoughts; it can be trained to develop new habits to spur it to effective action.


What Type Of Self-talker Are You?

There are 2 kinds of self-talkers: the Bad and the Good. Both have lasting impacts on every facet of your life.

The Inner Critic (The Bad)

Negative self-talk adversely affects our mental health.

It limits your possibilities and conditions your mind to expect and accept failure.

If you are the type to dwell on the negative and beat yourself up over the smallest things, your inner critic has hijacked your thought process.

Our thoughts define how we feel.

This means how we think encourage or emotions and will determine how we respond with our feelings.

Berating yourself for every mistake, perceived flaw, what we can or can’t do translates to “I can’t do anything right,” “I’m too fat to wear that,” or “I’m not putting my name for the application, I’m too fill in the blank.”

These thoughts propel us to choose courses of actions that brand us in the eyes of other people.

If you keep saying that you can’t do anything right, eventually others will buy into it and not trust you to do anything because you can’t do anything right.

Keep saying you are too fat, too unattractive and people will see you the way you project yourself – unattractive and unappealing.

Keep saying you are something – out of your depth, unqualified, lacking skills, can’t do it and you won’t be able to.

You’re stuck in the last place, rejected because you have convinced yourself and the people around you that you aren’t worth it.


The Pragmatic Cheerleader (The Good)

Let’s contrast that with positive self-talk.

Understand that it’s not all butterflies and rainbows with positive self-talk.

The cheerleader will not just lift you up with positive affirmations and fluff but also add a dose of logic to counteract the damaging and self-sabotaging thoughts that can lead you to a depressed state.

Again, our thoughts define how we feel.

When you think positively you’ll respond with optimism, and believe that you can get through roadblocks and obstacles.

This motivates you to keep pushing forward, to keep trying.

Being optimistic makes you receptive to other opportunities.

You see doors and windows instead of walls and blocks.

Being positive keeps you grateful and lets you see the bigger picture.

You have so much of what others can only wish for.  

Being positive pushes you to keep on trying.

Reason dictates that nobody has said no yet so you go back and try again.

If our thoughts determine how we feel, and our feelings determine how we act; we need to change how we think to reset how we respond and react.

The goal is to reprogram your brain to become a positive thinking machine.

Easier said than done because most of our thoughts are negative, at an overwhelming 80%; and as mentioned earlier, our thoughts dictate our actions and inactions.

But it can be achieved.

Let’s take a closer look at the ways we can benefit from positive self-talk.

Self-Talk Benefits: The Lowdown

The gains that positive self-talk bring can be observed in three areas: physical health, mental health, and habit formation.

The therapeutic results brought on by positive self-talk to a person’s physical health cover:

  • an increase in energy
  • improved immune function
  • reduction in pain experienced
  • improved cardiovascular health
  • increase in physical well-being
  • decreased risk for death

Often, we are our own worst enemy.

Adapting the practice of positive self-talk results in an improvement in a person’s mental health such as:

  • greater life satisfaction
  • less likelihood of self-harm
  • lower rates of depression
  • lower levels of distress
  • better coping skills during disappointments and pressure
  • a lessening of panic attacks and anxiety

People who practice and apply self-talk have better coping mechanisms.

They don’t wallow and do not suffer through prolonged low periods.

Reading the individual benefits, you’ll see a pattern that builds and cycles as you continue to experience the gains of being positive.  

Developing new habits tend to be difficult as you get older.

People get set in their ways and are naturally resistant to change.

The use of self-talk scripts specifically targetted to an undesirable trait or habit help to reprogram your hardwiring to overcome fears, discomfort to try new things, quit bad habits, and develop productive new ones.


What Does The Research Say?

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so…”

– Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2


What we believe in becomes our reality.

It may sound too simplistic and based on fake psychology but studies have shown the link between optimism, achievement, and health.

A study was conducted in 2012 on the effects of positive self-talk on first-grade students.

Throughout the school year, students were taught a series of lessons about self-talk and learned how to recognize specific negative and positive words and affirmations.

Data from student interviews at the end of the school year confirmed the ability to recognize negative self-talk, change it to positive, and apply the positive habits learned in daily activities.

The study concludes “that even very young students are in control of themselves by consciously feeding their minds with positive empowering self-talk,” and “life-impacting skill has the potential to change perspectives, attitudes, and reactions in regard to oneself, to others and to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.”

A 2016 study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed high optimism rates in women greatly reduced the risks of dying major causes of death such as infection, respiratory and heart diseases, and cancer.

It adds that enhancing psychological resilience along with lowering the risk factors for the diseases reduces the risks.

The outcomes suggest increased optimism is associated with healthier behaviors and healthier ways of coping with life challenges.

There is also the Power Positions study from Amy Cuddy.

The study notes that aside from thinking you can achieve it, you also need to match it with actions or poses that suggest authority and power.

By holding your body in a broad, “high-power” poses for two minutes stimulates an increase of testosterone and decreases cortisol (the “stress” hormone).

The effect is a hormonal shift, an increase in perceptions of power, and a greater tolerance for risk.


Self-Talk Techniques

You’ve read the benefits and some of the research to back up the claims.

Chances are, you are part of the majority who let your inner critic dominate you.

Here are techniques you can employ to overcome the nagging voice and be a better you.

Recognize the negative self-talk and stop it at its tracks.

When you become aware of your negative thoughts–its triggers and its effects–you’ll be able to deal with it.

Write down your negative thoughts and analyze what and why you say it about yourself.

Approach it with reason.

Is it true?

What do you base that thought on?

Are there evidence to prove it or is it just what you believe because you keep repeating it?

Turn negative thoughts into positive ones.

After writing down your negative thoughts, put a positive spin to it.

Include the steps you are taking to overcome the harmful habit or negative behavior.

Here’s a worksheet to fill out to help you recognize your negative thoughts and turn it around to beneficial positive self-talk.

Create your own specific affirmations or self-talk scripts.

You can find examples here that you can use or modify to fit your specific issues.

Be proactive in training your mind.

Do it. Rinse. Repeat.

Change never came naturally for anyone but consistent practice will yield incremental results that can be visible in 3 to 4 weeks.

How To Think More Positively

Here are additional pointers and tips to turn negative self-talk into a positive one.

  1. Set realistic goals of what you want to achieve. The prospect of hitting your target is higher if you set smaller goals that allow for flexibility.
  2. Distance yourself from negative people. Hanging out with negative friends reinforces your negativity. Staying away will lessen the influence and the constant “woe is me” conversations.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are moving at a pace that suits you. The grass only looks greener but if you look at your grass from their perspective, you’ll find that they see your patch as greener than theirs.
  4. Believe in your capacity and capabilities to succeed. You have what it takes to succeed. If you don’t believe in yourself, how will you make others believe in you?
  5. Perfection does not exist. Do not obsess over it. People chase after perfection and only end up disappointed because what they are after isn’t real and can’t be attained.
  6. Give yourself time to change. Results cannot be achieved overnight. It takes 21 days to form a new habit, 90 days of consistent practice to keep.
  7. Don’t get stuck in the past. It can not be changed but you can learn from your mistakes. Everybody has one, learn from it and move forward.
  8. Be intentional with your criticism of yourself. Instead of reacting negatively, evaluate the reasons why you feel the way you do about yourself. It would help if you would write it down.
  9. Pay it forward. Think positive and offer kind words to others. They might need it more than you.
  10. Stack your wins. Keep track of it and on days when being positive is difficult, read through your wins to get inspiration. You’ll be surprised at how far you have come and the progress you’re are making.


Self-Talk Book

One of the best books on positive self-talk is written by Shad Helmstetter. His book, “What to Say When You Talk to Your Self” came out in 1987 and it’s one of my absolute favorite books of all-time.

We are conscious of what we say to others for fear of being called judgemental or coming off as unpleasant.

Sadly, we don’t give ourselves the same courtesy.

Dr. Helmstetter’s book helps walk you through the levels of recognizing your self-sabotage to making a conscious decision to change, to creating scripts to lift yourself up.

You can learn more about the book by clicking this link.


Improves Sports Performance

If you are still not sold because it all sounds too much like happy pep talk, here’s evidence for the effectivity of positive self-talk used in sports.

Dr. Christopher Carr studied the effect of focus on optimal performance.

In his study of the applications and effects of sports psychology, he identified positive self-talk as one technique that can enhance competitive focus.

Self-talk affects your performance.

It alters your confidence and emotional reactions derived from it.

So invest in positive self-talk to achieve positive results.

World leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and top athletes have benefitted from positive self-talk.

Help yourself and improve your outlook with self-talk today.


References

The Importance of Positive Self Talk. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://examinedexistence.com/the-importance-of-positive-self-talk/

Holland, K. (2018. October 17). Positive Self-Talk: How Talking to Yourself Is a Good Thing. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/positive-self-talk

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

Editorial Staff
 

Editorial Staff at MindBodyPal is a team of experts led by Tyson Chiu. We love tacos, lattes and Funky Fridays.

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