What Have You Been Telling Yourself Lately?
“You shall eat the fruit of your lips,” – Proverbs 13:2
I’ve written about the importance of positive self-talk before, because I believe it’s one of the most important (and often overlooked) steps to making life changes. In my own practice, I’ve seen 9/10 patients transform their lives by using positive self-talk as part of their healing process. While you may think your tendency towards positivity or negativity is dictated by genetics or circumstances, I’m here to tell you that positive thinking skills can be learned and used under any conditions.
Controlling Your Self-Talk
Self-Talk is that endless stream of running commentary happening in your mind during every waking moment. It can either be positive, or negative. I recommend positive. Positive thinking patterns decrease stress and have been proven to improve physical health and well-being. But negativity can be a tough habit to kick – you might not even be aware you think negatively as often as you do. Your thoughts come from your deepest beliefs and personal truths, which means being aware of them and changing them can be a challenge.
Sometimes, all you have to do is break the loop of negative thinking. I like to refer to Bob Newhart’s comedy sketch, “Stop It” for this – it puts a smile on my face whenever I think of his no-nonsense approach to problem solving. When your mind starts focusing on the negative, tell yourself, audibly, to “stop it.” It works!
Distract yourself with something positive, like watching funny Bob Newhart sketches for example. Even if you’re driving in the car or brushing your teeth, think of something that always evokes a positive emotion. I like to give a quick prayer of thanks to God for today’s blessings – that works even better than Bob Newhart.
Upgrade Your Self-Talk
I recommend writing a “cheat sheet” of all the wonderful things that are true about yourself, like “I am a generous, giving, loving person,” or “I am a talented artist/cook/writer/sculptor/pianist.” Even “I bake the best peanut butter cookies.” Keep the list on you at all times, and whenever you have a “I look fat, why am I so fat?” thought, or “I’m so stupid!,” or “I feel ugly,” take that piece of paper out and read it out loud. Read your list three times a day for a week, until you have them memorized.
When you look in the mirror and your mind instantly says “I’m having a bad hair day,” you need to remember to finish that thought with a “but.” “I’m having a bad hair day… but, with a few pins, I can roll it into a pretty French twist!” Or, when you’re in the gym and start comparing yourself against the 20-something yoga instructor – don’t dwell on your perceived inadequacy. Rather, end your thought with “but all this stair-stepping is going to make me look great – just need to work at it!” You’re probably not at your goal yet – but – you will be if you stay positive.
Negative self-talk not only prevents you from moving forward and achieving your life’s purpose – it actually has the power to hurt your physical health (not to mention your emotional health and your relationships with your loved ones). Changing the way you think about yourself is the first step towards creating the real and lasting changes you want to see in your life.