Positive Self-Talk

Oh boy, we are already in the third month of the year. And, no, we can’t believe it’s March already, either! By now, most people who set New Year’s resolutions have long forgotten about them. In fact, about 80% of people stop trying to reach their goals before the end of January. Your gut reaction might be to shame yourself or feel guilty for not “trying hard enough,” but honestly, that’s a useless feeling. Instead, let’s focus on the power of self-love and positive self-talk and how that ties into making smarter goals!

According to Psychology Today, many people have a running inner dialogue throughout the day. Generally, it combines conscious thoughts and unconscious beliefs and biases. For some people, it’s naturally positive. For others, it’s naturally self-critical and pessimistic. Negative self-talk results in lower confidence, rumination, and can limit personal growth. Unfortunately, human nature tends to lean us towards more self-critical self-talk. Many people believe this type of self-talk (in moderation) can help push us to grow and change in ways that benefit us, as it can naturally cause us to correct our course of action. However, over time, self-critical self-talk becomes damaging, especially if you don’t consciously stop the criticism at basic self-awareness before it morphs into straight-up negativity. 

On the other hand, positive self-talk can be beneficial for many people. Practicing positive self-talk isn’t always easy, but it’s doable for everyone. For some, it starts with correcting negative self-talk when it starts. Unconstructive thoughts and beliefs that end with unnecessary guilt and shame or cause us to ruminate have left the realm of constructive self-criticism and entered the realm of negative and unconstructive. Pausing for a moment and considering if what you are thinking about yourself is something you would say to a friend to help them (vs. something that you would consider mean-spirited) can help put the brakes on negative self-talk. Once you’ve stopped the negative dialogue, how do you constructively begin to utilize positive self-talk?

Some research has shown that it helps to address yourself in the third person instead of the first person in your inner dialogue. Why? Creating psychological distance (self-distancing) between the primitive parts of your brain and conscious thought makes you more likely to talk to yourself in a similar way to how you would speak to someone else. And in general, we wouldn’t speak so negatively to another person. You wouldn’t tell someone who isn’t reaching their goals that they are lazy and worthless, right? So why would you say that to yourself? 

Research has shown that this kind of self-distancing during self-talk can lower anxiety, increase confidence, and increase productivity. As you begin your positive self-talk journey, replace “I” with “you.” For instance, instead of saying, “I can do this,” say, “You can do this.” Or replace “you” with your name. Show yourself compassion just like you would show compassion to others. Ok, what does this have to do with your New Year’s resolutions? When trying to achieve any goal, self-confidence, self-compassion, and the ability to change how you view a situation can make a huge difference in whether or not you succeed. Utilizing positive third-person self-talk can be a powerful tool for some to increase their confidence in their ability to succeed, and confidence in ability is a huge precursor to success. It can help you create realistic goals and put away feelings of shame and self-doubt. Here are some things you can tell yourself today when you start to feel like you’ve failed (and don’t replace the “you” with “I” when you repeat these in your head!):

“You are capable of setting goals and sticking to them.”

“You are good at what you do.”

“You have achieved success in the past, and you can do it again.”

“You are strong enough to start and strong enough to finish.”

“You will take time to take care of yourself today because you deserve it.”

“You will set one smart goal today, and you will achieve it because your body deserves it.”

“You are going to take care of your body today because you know it will help you take care of your mind.”

“You are not a failure. ”

Turn off the negative self-talk and use the power of positive third-person self-talk to reframe how you approach your fitness journey! You can do it!

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/self-talk is an article that is free to access and has links to plenty of ways you can help utilize self-talk to become a more confident, strong, and productive you!