It is widely believed that your mind can either be your biggest support system or enemy. Which is why a lot of mental health experts emphasise on the importance of cultivating a healthy relationship between the mind and body. How many of you have heard the popular quote, “What you think, you become”? Well, it’s indeed true that what you think about yourself, or how you talk to yourself is crucial. This is where the concept of self-talk, particularly one which leans towards positivity, comes into the picture.
First things first, let’s understand the concept of self-talk. You know those little conversations you have with yourself? That is what is known as self-talk. It guides you through your thoughts and emotions, influenced by your subconscious mind. It helps you understand your beliefs and ideas, and can be either positive or negative in nature.
Positive self-talk is basically showing yourself compassion. It becomes a supportive voice, and helps you affirm your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, positive self-talk strives to help you perceive yourself in a better light.
It is imperative to understand how you speak to yourself can affect your well-being. Dr Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist, rehabilitation and sports medicine department, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai shares, “Many studies done over the years have come to the conclusion that positive self-talk has the ability to enhance not only your mental well-being, but your overall health as well. The findings suggest that those who indulge in positive self-talk, have a solution-focused thought pattern, and are able to overcome any hardships or challenges they face. This in turn can reduce anxiety and stress.”
The next question to address is: when should you indulge in it? The most common suggestion would be to make a shift in your thoughts every time you find yourself being pessimistic about the different situations, are trapped in a loop of negative thoughts, or are in a state of constant self-doubt. Dr Dordi further adds, “Self-talk is a habit that needs time to be formed, especially if it doesn’t come naturally to you. While there is no defined time, it always helps to set aside a few moments in the day to practice changing the flow of your thoughts. If you’re someone who mostly has a negative thought pattern, you have to learn to shift your inner dialogue to be more motivating, and something that uplifts you.”
Dr Dordi recommends the following techniques to help you make that shift in your thoughts:
1. Trap the negative self-talk: We often find ourselves going into the spiral of negative self-talk, when something doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. For example, if a project you’re working on falls through or a meeting at work doesn’t end well. Understanding your triggers, can help you prepare better and have more positive dialogues with yourself. A better way to know your triggers would be to observe what or who makes you anxious and stressed.
2. Don’t be afraid of feelings: Make it a point to constantly check-in with yourself during various times of the day, and understand if your thoughts are leaning towards the negative aspect. If they are, take a break, breathe, and focus on changing the thoughts into positive ones.
3. Laugh it off: It’s true when it’s said, ’Laughter is the best medicine’. It can help alleviate tension and lighten your mood. Every time you need a mood booster for positive self-talk, watch a funny movie, or a comedy show. When you’re able to relate to the situation on screen, it gives you that motivation in real life too. If you’re at work or a setup where this isn’t possible, take a short break and have a look at some memes or short clips to lighten your mood.
4. Affirmation reminders: Positive words, inspiring messages, can be of great help in such situations. They are there to help you redirect your thoughts. Try to add post-its or messages in the places where you spend maximum time, whether at home or at the office. Whenever you’re feeling low, these can serve as a quick pick-me-up. However, that doesn’t mean you suppress your actual emotions. It’s always great to let them out, you’ll feel better, and the affirmations are serve as one of the ways to help your thought process.