What if we could change negative self-talk into positive self-talk? Do we have any skills that we can install and practice on us to learn the way to change our inner speech? GOOD NEWS is a big YES!!
Self-talk, also known as inner speech, inner discourse, or internal monologue. Self-talk is the endless stream that comes as automatic thoughts. Self-talk is very personal; one which may work for an individual may not work for someone else and self-talk changes from time to time-periodic basis. Self-talk that motivated you in school days may not motivate you in adulthood. Periodically you need to update self-talk.
Self-talk is about the processing of daily experiences. Self-talk determines your self-esteem and the level of your self-esteem decides the way you handle stress in your life.
Broadly there are two types of self-talk- positive self-talk and negative self-talk. Basically, negative self-talk is any inner dialogue you have with yourself that may be limiting your ability to believe in yourself and your own abilities and to reach your potential. It is any thought that diminishes your ability to make positive changes in your life or your confidence in yourself to do so. Like- No one likes me, I am not good enough.
Positive self-talk is the motivational or instructional monologue that increases your self-esteem and drives you to make positive changes in your life. Like- I like me, I am enough and worthy too.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails” – Jimmy Dean
Let us have a look, how negative self-talk can be changed to a positive one.
SOS (Stop- Observe- Shift) is the technique to stop negative self-talk where;
- Stop means- Mentally telling you “STOP” this will interrupt your thought process.
- Observe means-Observe what you are saying to yourself and how it is making you feel.
- Shift means- Shift your thinking, emotional, and behavioral response by using positive coping skills.
When one is aware of SOS, he or she can practice the skill of changing negative self-talk into a positive one. Now you can take a pen and paper and work on your negative self-talk.
Here is the practical application of this skill in three easy steps:
- LISTEN: Listen to what you are saying to yourself
- CHALLENGE: Challenge your self-talk.
- CHANGE: Change your self-talk.
Let us take an example of self-talk as:
“I never get anything right” Let us apply the above steps here.
A. LISTEN: In this section simply do these two things-
- Notice the self-talk: Notice and note it out same as you thought Example-“I never get anything right”
- Is this positive or negative: The above talk is negative self-talk.
B. CHALLENGE: Here is the way to challenge your self-talk with these two questions:
- Is there any actual evidence for this thought? Example- Once or twice I may have gone wrong, but not all the times, so saying “never” is hypothetical, not the actual one.
- What would I say if my friend was in a similar situation? Example- I would say that this is the only time you got wrong; otherwise you are doing so well. Also, you had been through these situations before and have overcome these sorts of things easily. You may seek support from family and friends.
C. CHANGE: In this part, just do these two things:
- Install alternative positive self-talk. Example-Instead of saying I never get anything right say is there anything I can do that will help me to do this?
- Make a list of positive things you can do. Example- Seek helps from those who had completed the task, looking for mentorship and coaching. Focusing on own strengths.
Using the name of a third person instead of ‘I’, this will create psychological distance from emotional intensity and make you feel apart from the problem.
Example: Instead of saying I am worried; say (your name) is worried. This process really helps you to observe the problem from out of the box.
Yes! Negative self-talk is the habit we form based on our learning, exposures, and experiences, and the GOOD NEWS is that we can change our habit by installing and practicing mentioned skills.