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Why It Matters How You Talk to Yourself

The things you say to yourself can have a big impact on how you view yourself and your actions—so be mindful of what you think.

Woman looking in mirror, positive self talk 

We all talk to ourselves. Maybe it’s out loud in front of the mirror. Other times it might be an inner dialogue we keep with ourselves throughout the day. With every thought you feed yourself, you become either a cheerleader or a critic. Your self-talk can even impact how you respond to stressors and events in your life.

When you learn to communicate positively with yourself, you’ll start to become more confident and motivated. Your outlook on life, and on yourself will be better. So, let’s talk about self-talk.

Positive vs. negative self-talk

It’s unfortunate that many of us are better at delivering negative messages to ourselves than positive ones. It’s not always easy to talk nice to yourself. Changing your self-talk from positive to negative takes a conscious daily effort. It might be something that you work at continually for the rest of your life. Learning to frame your self-talk in a positive manner takes work, but it can change your perception on life and yourself.

Related: Why Being Positive Is Good for Your Health

How to change your self-talk

If all you can seem to think of is how you are not measuring up, it might be time to start working on your self-talk. Begin working on the following exercises and see how it impacts your self-talk and your life.

Listen to yourself

The commentary in your head probably runs all day long. Because of this, you might not pay attention to what that commenter is saying. For a whole day (or two), try really paying attention to what you are saying to yourself. It might help to keep a notebook on you so you can write down anytime you talk to yourself (both good and bad). After a whole day, you’ll have a clear outline of the things you are saying to yourself. It’ll allow you to really analyze what kind of rhetoric you are feeding to yourself.

Create emotional distance

In a recent study, researchers found that it matters how you talk to yourself. Not only does it matter what you say, but how you say it. For example, it can be helpful to talk about yourself in third person, or use your name rather than referring to yourself in first person. That slight change can give you the emotional distance you need to process your behavior and emotions.

Related: 13 Things You Should Tell Yourself Every Day

Question your thoughts

It might seem odd, but when it comes to how you talk to yourself, it can be helpful to question what you are saying. Are you reading someone else’s mind and assuming that they’re judging you? Are you overreacting to a situation and making things out to be worse than they really are? Are you being harsh with yourself? Is what you are saying truthful? Once you recognize the flaws in your thinking, you are prepared to change your negative thoughts into more positive ones.

Treat yourself as a friend

Most of us would never treat a friend poorly. We wouldn’t speak unkindly to them or make them feel bad about themselves. Yet, we do this to ourselves. As you begin to reframe your self-talk, remember to treat yourself as you would a good friend. Instead of saying, “I’m so bad at this,” try saying, “You can do this”. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t allow yourself to say it to you either.

How you talk to yourself can play a critical role in how you view yourself and your life. Changing your self-talk from negative to positive will take work, but it’s possible.

While you’re here, check out our other articles on positivity and gratitude.  

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