Sometimes when I'm out running and it starts to feel hard or my motivation just isn't there, the voice in my head starts to get louder . . . you know the one. The one that says “It's okay to quit!” The one that says “You're crazy for doing this, you're not a runner!” The one that says “You're too tired, you're too slow, you're too old, just give up.” Yeah that voice.
It's almost like I'm a cartoon character where on my left shoulder is this little devil version of Karen, but in my head I'm a mouse. I don’t know why, maybe because they're small and weak. And on the right side is a little angel version of Karen. She's still small, but she's positive and she's strong and she's encouraging. She tells me to fight through. She reminds me that I can do hard things, that I'm worth the effort, the time, the energy. I like her because she's loud and she's confident, she knows she has to be loud to overpower the little mouse on my left side and the louder she gets the quieter the left side mouse gets.
I'm not going to lie there are times when I will literally talk to myself out loud when I’m out running - hyping myself up, cheering myself on, repeating those positive affirmations. The runners around me must think I'm crazy talking to myself, but I'd rather be crazy than a quitter so I keep talking to myself out loud. Louder and louder until that left side mouse has been muted!
Wouldn’t it be nice to always have someone who provides encouragement, support, and insightful advice in difficult times or uncomfortable situations? Someone who tells us just what we need to hear to feel better.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find that person. However, we can create a positive and encouraging voice within ourselves through positive self-talk.
We talk quietly to ourselves in our thoughts and sometimes out loud when we think that nobody is watching (or even when they are). Self-talk is the way our inner voice makes sense of the world around us, to find reason, to work through a situation, just simply a way we communicate with ourselves.
Our streams of thoughts follow patterns. This internal dialogue may change from positive to negative depending on the circumstances. The way we talk to ourselves impacts our interpretation and reaction to what happens to us.
We are born into language. People around us have expectations that may or not fit our personality. We remember comments or reactions that we experienced at a young age by significant key players in our lives. Our brain, like a sponge, absorbed words and phrases that others around us used to describe our actions and choices. The messages that we hear over and over are recorded in our mind and played on repeat over and over.
The way we talk to ourselves is usually the way others talked to us when we were kids. All the phrases that we repeatedly heard are held in our unconscious mind and come up when similar experiences happen in the present. We have to keep in mind that most parents, relatives, and friends have the best intentions when talking to us. They want to keep us safe and make sure we don’t make mistakes. The problem is that safety and perfection will only keep us where we are right now.
If we are unhappy with our current life or want to make any changes, whether in our career, our health, our relationships - we have to get out of our comfort zone, feel unsafe, make mistakes, and be willing to fail.
I want you to take a few minutes and think about what you’ve said to yourself today. Was it critical? Or was it kind and helpful? How did you feel after you engaged in this inner dialogue?
Our thoughts dictate our mood, drive our emotions, and determine how we will connect with others. Those little conversations you have with yourself can be either destructive or beneficial. They influence how you feel about yourself and how you respond to events in your life.
With positive self-talk you tell yourself that you did the best you could under the given circumstances and that you will learn from this experience. How we feel and our emotions change depending on the events that happen around us. We cannot always control the circumstances in our lives but we are in charge of what we tell ourselves about these events.
Positive self-talk helps us to focus on our strengths and pay attention to what we do well and use it to complete the task at hand.
Focus on your talents, skills, and positive expectations about the future. Remember all the good choices you made in your life.
Although positive self-talk comes naturally to some, most people need to learn how to initiate positive thoughts and banish the negative ones. With practice, it can become more natural to think good thoughts rather than bad ones.
Here are a few tips on how to empower that strong confident mouse on your right side, while quieting that little devil on your left side.
Listen and learn. Spend a few days listening closely to your inner dialogue. Are you supportive of yourself? Are you critical or negative? Would you be comfortable saying those thoughts and words to a loved one? Are there common threads or themes? Write down important or frequent negative thoughts.
Reevaluate the information: Ask yourself the following questions about each of the thoughts you’ve listed:
Am I overreacting? Is it really that big of a deal? Is it important in the long run?
Am I overgeneralizing? Am I coming to a conclusion based more on opinion or experience than facts?
Am I mind reading? Am I assuming others have specific beliefs or feel a certain way? Am I guessing how they’ll react?
Am I labeling myself harshly?
Is this an all-or-nothing thought?
Am I viewing one incident as either good or bad without considering that the reality is rarely black and white?
How truthful and accurate is this thought?
Step back and consider the accuracy of the thought as a friend might.
The easiest way to change your self-talk is to be around encouraging and positive people. Look around and you will find them in neighbors, friends, social media followers, coworkers, and bosses. They will remind you of all the reasons why you should pursue your dreams and appreciate the wonderful possibilities in front of you.
Reading, copying, and keeping motivational quotes from people you admire in a visible place will encourage you when you are tired and ready to give up.
Some of the greatest success stories in life are of people who failed multiple times before becoming successful. Think about if they had given up the first time they failed! Your efforts are not in vain if you look at a failure as an opportunity to try again and learn from the experience. Think about someone you admire and read or listen to the person’s biography. It’s always surprising how difficult it was for most people to achieve their goals or life purpose.
Choose a topic that you are having difficulties with and go in with a growth mindset to make that a strength. Depending on your circumstances, you will find information that you will be able to include in your positive self-talk. Most self-help books include strategies and examples of how people changed their life for the better.
Imagine a positive outcome to your difficult situation. This will encourage you to take action. Your ability to visualize your success is tied to your ability to actually achieve success. Visualizing helps you think positively about your situation and encourages you to see that your vision is possible.
A great way to begin positive self-talk is to dream about the future. What is your desire in life? Allow yourself to dream big and then set smaller goals toward reaching those end goals. Encourage yourself toward your life successes by providing supportive messages about how you will achieve these goals
Have a Purpose Higher Than Yourself. When you feel that you have purpose, you focus on the positive reasons for which you were created to pursue and accomplish.
A great way to find the positive in your life and create positive self-talk, is to recognize the things in your life for which you can be grateful. Finding the little things daily can help to improve your attitude, which will help you have better, more positive self-talk. One way to practice gratitude is by starting a gratitude journal. And don’t forget to add yourself and your skills to the list!
Comparison is the biggest killer of joy! When you are constantly comparing what you lack to what others have, you can easily get down on yourself. Live your best life and stop making any comparisons.
Use Positive Words with Others - Positivity breeds positivity.
Believe in your ability to succeed. Believe in the abilities and skills that you have, so that you can move yourself toward success. You need to tell yourself you can do what needs to be done and you can succeed at whatever you put your mind to. If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will?
My favorite, Post Positive Affirmations EVERYWHERE!! A great way to provide positive self-talk to yourself is to write it down and post it as a constant reminder how awesome you are!
Next time when you catch yourself having negative thoughts after making a mistake, unable to take action, or when things don’t go your way try to talk to a positive person, read some inspirational quotes, grab a self-help book, imagine a positive outcome, or shout from the roof that you can do hard things!!
There are different ways to get from where we are to where we want to be. It usually takes some trial and error to figure out the right path for us. With positive self-talk we can push ourselves toward happiness and success regardless of the obstacles.
Let me know in the comments if it worked for you.