If you find yourself repeating negative comments to yourself, acknowledge the negative self-talk and explore that thought. Ask yourself, “Is this really true?” Then, ask yourself another important question, “Would I talk like that to a friend?” Those two questions can help you treat yourself in a more positive light. As Joseph Campbell once said, “What you don’t experience positively, you will experience negatively,” so here are ways you can incorporate positive self-talk into your life.
Be mindful of your thoughts and when your thoughts turn negative, slow down and connect a mantra to your breath. It could be as simple as saying, “in with good” as you breath in and “out with bad” as your exhale. The blog, Intentional Acts of Kindness, suggests another strategy using the acronym S-T-O-P. S is for stop, T for take a breath, O for observe what’s happening in and around you and P for practice responding rather than reacting.
Instead of reacting to your negative thought, look at your life and ask yourself if you are taking care of yourself. Getting adequate sleep, eating healthy food, practicing meditation and exercising regularly are ways to treat yourself with kindness. Incorporating these actions into your daily life can shift negative self-talk into a positive soundtrack.
Eckart Tolle compares negative self-talk to, “a little yappy dog that never shuts up and follows you everywhere, biting your pant leg forever.” Just as a puppy can be trained, so can your mind. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are numerous benefits to replacing the negative thoughts in your head with more optimistic ones. These benefits include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Once you recognize this internal criticism, Mindpower suggests the following steps to work through these thoughts.
- Change the negative thought into a positive one. For example, if you are worried and focusing on what could go wrong in a situation, change your thoughts to what could go right. The mind can only think one thought at a time; so changing the negative into a positive eliminates the negative.
- Use an affirmation. Begin affirming to yourself something positive and self-supporting. The mind will focus on what you are repeating to yourself.
- Use humor and fun. We get very serious and stressed when we’re thinking negative thoughts. Think of something funny to change the energy, or do something fun like going to a movie or having a night out with friends. Don’t let your negative thoughts have power over you. Be proactive in softening the power these thoughts can have.
- Instill self-compassion. Remind yourself that the negative thought you are thinking is “only a negative thought.” It has no power other than what you give it. Negatives gain momentum from repeating them over and over again. So instead of fixating on what’s bad, focus on what’s good! Begin to retrain your mind by instilling loving kindness and self-compassion through breath work and meditation.
Take a moment and think about every compliment you have ever received. Remind yourself of everything that’s good in your life and discover the advantages of looking at the world through the lens of positivity.