What is self-talk?
Self-talk is your internal dialogue. It is directly influenced by your subconscious mind and it reveals your thoughts, beliefs, questions, and ideas- even the ones you try to hide from yourself.
Self-talk can be both negative and positive and these words directly affect our mood and emotions, and how we handle stress.
If your best friend spoke to you the way you speak to yourself would you still be their friend?
Why is positive self-talk important?
Often our self-talk begins when we are children and is directly related to the way our parents spoke to us, each other, and themselves. As young children, we operate at genius learning levels for the first few years of our lives and if surrounded by parents who speak to each other, and us, in a harsh manner – it’s easy to adopt this way of speaking (it’s probably all you know at that age as well) and accept it as normal behaviour.
Studies have shown that people who have a positive inner dialogue have mental skills that allow them to solve problems, think outside the box, and be more efficient with handling hardships and challenges, which subsequently reduces stress and anxiety and all their harmful effects on our bodies and minds.
Your personality, the people who surround you, and your lifestyle all directly affect your self-talk. If you’re an optimist, your self-talk may tend to be more hopeful and positive, however, if you’re a pessimist your self-talk can tend to be demeaning & emotionally hurtful.
As we go through life, we become more aware of how we communicate with others and are sometimes quick to let someone else know if we don’t appreciate the way they speak to us. So why do we tend to give little to no thought about how we speak to ourselves?
Negative thought patterns and self-talk breeds pessimism and anxiety
Developing the right inner dialogue
Tim Ferris’s book, Tools of the Titans, is one of my favourite tools for setting goals and aiming for success. He basically shares the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers.
Anyway, I noticed certain patterns in the habits and routines of some of the worlds most successful people and their emphasis on the importance of positive self-talk and ensuring that they practised this routinely. One of the highlighted successful persons talked about affirmations and positive self-talk in my favourite way ever!! He said something along the lines of ‘I personally don’t believe in affirmations because I can’t find the science behind it. But I use them every single day because they work.’ He isn’t sure why or how this method works. All he knows is AFFIRMATIONS WORK. He can be a skeptic and believer at the same time by viewing affirmations and positive self-talk as a tool to be used and not some fantasy to file away with Santa (sorry if you still believe in Santa).
In Think and Grow Rich (arguably the BIBLE on creating wealth & financial stability) the first four chapters are about the importance of improving yourself through mindset, having faith in your abilities. There is an entire chapter dedicated to being aware of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves every day. It literally says ‘you will not become what you don’t believe you will become.’ Thanks to my ‘to smart for her own good’ mother I was raised in a house where this was INGRAINED INTO MY HEAD. Don’t get me wrong- I still have those days and those moments where I think I made a lifetime of horrible decisions and wasted my 20’s – but then I snap myself back because guess what (& you don’t have to believe it or agree with me) I am FUCKING AWESOME!! –but it took me years to view myself in that light. Now I understand why everyone says your 30’s are the best, you learn to chill and not care so much about others. Once I accepted that I am fucking awesome (and FELT it every day) everything changed. My priorities and boundaries changed, as did the people I surrounded myself with. I lost clients that I needed to lose and gained better ones. My work improved, my goals changed and so did everything else. It’s a beautiful thing when you finally start to love yourself and I suggest you start today. There is a popular experiment done in grade school that always blows me away (IKEA recently tried it as an anti-bullying campaign). Students are asked to choose two growing item (usually plants). They are instructed to say nice things to one of them every day and to say mean and horrible things to another one. Usually, by day 30, the one who is praised is blooming well & the one who was bullied is dying, dead or rotten. [Check it out HERE] If spoken words have this kind of impact on plants, imagine what the words you are speaking to yourself do to you.
The truth is in most cases the negative self-talk is just a defence mechanism
Our brain is wired to keep us safe and as we prepare and talk ourselves into following our dreams and actually doing the things we always wish we could do, our brain flips out. It encourages us to stay in our comfort zone and that’s why (if you let it) it will start listing all the reasons why you couldn’t and shouldn’t take that leap of hope.
[Learn more about the ways your brain works against you when you are trying to do something new HERE]
Type of Negative Self Talk:
• Focusing Only on Problems: Complaining and focusing only on what’s wrong, rather than on what could be done or a solution.
• “Catastrophizing”: (Or as I call it- SNOWBALLNG) Everything that goes wrong is a horrible disaster! We expect the worst and magnify problems.
• Stereotyping: We put others into preconceived (usually negative) categories so that we don’t have to bother with understanding them, or seeing how they are similar to us.‘There’s no point in talking to that guy, all handsome men think I’m ugly.’
• “Shoulds”: Sometimes we think we should choose what others want us to instead of what we truly want to do. When we give in to the “shoulds,” we feel resentful, but if we don’t give in- we feel guilty! It’s also VERY common to judge our own or another’s behaviour by saying what they “should have done.” It’s like closing the barn door after the cow has run away. “Should have done” doesn’t solve the problem. (Sorry parents but you are FAMOUS for this).
• Thinking in black and white: Also called “All or Nothing Thinking”. We think in extremes without allowing for shades of grey. The project was either a complete success or a complete failure instead of maybe ‘I learned a few things and I am proud of trying at all.’ • Blaming: Instead of looking for a solution to the problem, we look for someone to blame. Victims LOVE to blame
• “Yes-but”: When someone offers advice, or a new point of view, or compliment us, we think of reasons why that won’t work, or point out something negative about ourselves.
• Generalizing: We take a few examples & generalize what we perceive to an entire class or category. “I can do anything right. Everyone hates me!”
Changing Your Self-Talk:
Negative self-talk tends to really amp up when we are going through a transition or difficult time. I struggled with this at the end of 2019. I felt like no matter what I did and who I trusted – it was a bust. I took some BIG risks with my business and personal life and REALLY struggled to get through some of those moments. This was a time that I needed to be my own biggest cheerleader yet I found myself just saying HORRIBLE things. Repeatedly. And it was my health suffered the most. I was sick A LOT. I stopped being open with my friends because I could feel the negative words coming out of my mouth and even I couldn’t stand to listen to myself (God bless my friends who stuck with me during this time, you’re the real MVPs). I started to dislike mornings and sleeping late ( I am the obnoxious early riser who LOVES a new day!) the way I looked, the things I love to do, and even my deepest passions – because my stress and negativity were undermining my self-care and my mental well-being. I couldn’t seem to get out of that rut – and even the days that I was DETERMINED to take control and change my attitude – deep down I felt myself doubting my ability to do so. No surprise, those days usually ended on a negative note and the vicious cycle continued. It was time to make some changes.
Step ONE: Damage Control
I removed myself from my regular surroundings (i.e. I got on a plane and visited my bestie). I took some time to reflect and I wrote down all the things I had accomplished in 2019 (reflecting on how far I have come always makes me feel better because I always see things in a new light). Regardless of how some situations turned out, I was able to see the good in all those bad situations. I was able to forgive the people who had hurt me during this time (hurt people hurt people- most of the time is has NOTHING to do with you) and I was able to see how much damage I was doing to myself AND my dreams.
Step TWO: Start the day right
Win your mornings, win the day. My morning routine is simple, NO cell phone (not even a peek), I drink a full glass of water as soon as I wake (dehydration from the time asleep makes us feel sluggish). Then I drink coffee, read something inspirational, and meditate for 9 minutes.
Step THREE: Change your Perspective & watch your words
I HAD to change my mindset and the way I approached my day and difficult tasks in my life. I don’t HAVE to wake up and deal with my clients – I HAVE CLIENTS I GET TO WAKE UP AND WORK TO HELP.. I don’t HAVE to go to the gym – I am lucky enough to wake up and be able to move my body in a way that is beneficial. Replace “sorry” with “thank you”. (As a born-and-raised Canadian, we have a collective, national habit of saying “sorry” too much. Now instead of saying “sorry”, I say “thank you”.) Replace “I’m sorry I’m late” with “Thank you for waiting for me”. Replace – “I’m sorry I didn’t get to finish that project” with “Thank you for giving me extra time to complete this properly”. It sounds silly but it’s a game-changer.
Step FOUR: WRITE IT OUT
Journaling is something I have done for years and as I get older I see how much it has helped me get through the difficult times and be a little easier on myself when I am going through a tough period. Looking back at the things I was working towards always makes me feel like a badass because usually I have accomplished those things or improved my goals to better suit the new version of me I am trying to be. And sometimes I see things I forgot I wanted to do. Not to mention it’s great to put on paper the way you’re feeling so you can analyze those feelings and SEE the way you view yourself. It’s the simplest way to change the way you look at your life, yourself, your work, your relationships etc… and see what needs to change, what needs to remain as is, and what needs to go.
Remember, you are human. You will slip from time to time but you will ALWAYS be you. Wouldn’t you rather be a version of yourself who is proud of what you do, who gives yourself credit when you do something amazing, who is gentle with yourself when you make mistakes, and who isn’t afraid to take risks because you know you can handle whatever is thrown your way? Damn, right you would! Now go look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how fucking amazing you are!!
Tools & Resources :
[This is the first thing I listen to literally EVERY morning when I start getting ready for the day. She has changed my mornings by this 11-minute video. She has a great channel and many amazing resources, I highly recommend checking out]
I am obsessed with Jason Stephenson. He has some the best-guided meditations I have ever practised and when I am feeling strong emotions I will do his ‘Future Self Meditation’ or River Of Dreams Meditation. I listen to his affirmations as I get ready for the day (In between Jcole songs of course).
The Big Leap: Gay Hendricks
Seriously, this life changed my entire world. I have never had a book make such a life-changing impact on my life. I CAN NOT recommend this book enough.