Self-Talk: The Quiet Compass
Words have long been recognized as having the power to change and influence people and their choices. But the words that have the most impact are those we speak to ourselves — our internal dialogue — otherwise known as “self-talk.”
Self-talk can influence our attitudes, self-esteem, performance and relationships with others. We can feel worried or traumatized, or calm and consoled, simply by the words we speak internally.
The celebrated motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “You are who you are because of what goes into your mind.” If this is in fact true, then we must learn to fill our thoughts with positive statements and learn to avoid the negativity that can sabotage our success. Negative self-talk focuses only on problems; positive self-talk is based in the belief that most problems have solutions and therefore formulates terms that are solution-oriented.
To maintain positive self-talk, it is imperative that we fill our minds with uplifting thoughts and ideas. We must recognize our strengths and give ourselves credit for personal achievements. When things go wrong, we must comfort ourselves and speak internal words of encouragement to help us overcome our setbacks. Speaking to ourselves in the same manner in which we might speak to a friend can be healing and enriching.
Not an easy task, self-talk takes much practice and a lot of discipline. A lifetime of such statements as “I’m not smart enough; I can’t do it; I’ll never accomplish my goals; I’m not as talented as this or that person,” can tear us down and damage our self-image. These may be verbal patterns we acquired as children, but now as adults we can choose to replace those with phrases and affirmations that can boost us up and propel us forward.
To combat negative self-talk and learn to think more positively, we must implement the following steps:
Self-Awareness: We need to become aware of our inner dialogue and take note of what we are telling ourselves. Our words can affect our actions.
Self-Reflection: We must recognize the repetitive statements that fill our minds.
Self-Support: We must determine not to react to our negative thought patterns. As with breaking all habits, this will take much practice and persistence.
Self-Affirmation: We need to learn to change internal negative statements with positive ones.
We will always face challenges and hardships, but how we respond will make the difference as to how we will effectively experience those situations. When we catch ourselves being negative, fearful or irrational, we must diligently retrain our thought patterns to counteract our pessimism. Statements like, “I can do that; I will achieve my goal; I am gifted and able,” can go a long way in helping us to combat our unproductive and destructive thoughts.
We have many opportunities throughout our days to help encourage others; similarly, we should put forth the effort to help encourage ourselves so that we may become more effective and productive women.