How to Turn Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk
It's important to turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk and stop putting yourself down, especially when you tell yourself horrible things like: "You are a failure!" "You are useless!" "I hate you!"
These are things that I hear regularly from myself. My voice says things like: "Nobody will ever love you!" "You will never amount to anything!"
The voice I use when I speak to myself when I am depressed is not exactly positive. But it can be, and there are ways that I can help ease the process of switching negative self-talk to positive.
What Is Self-Talk?
Self-talk is mental health lingo for the inner monologue each of us has. For many people, that is the encouraging voice telling you that you can do it, just four more push-ups. It is the positive voice that reminds people that the weekend is coming, that things will get better. However, for those of us who struggle with mental illness, that inner voice can often be extremely negative, especially during periods of extreme depression or anxiety. It is more likely to tell us that we can't rather than we can and that things will end poorly rather than happily-ever-after.
This has been a major issue in my life. In a period of depression, the depression itself manifests in my self-talk (turning any positive self-talk to extremely negative self-talk), and that negativity spirals me down even further. That, in turn, leads to more negative self-talk, negative thoughts, and so on until I hit the bottom of the barrel.
How Do You Turn Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk?
When my self-talk turns so negative, I have a few things that I use to change my negative self-talk to positive. First, I try to stop the spiral. That can mean doing things simply to distract me. I count. (For instance, I count all the green things I can see, or all the triangles.) I choose a tough word, like triceratops or misappropriation, and spell it backward in my head. I do things like this to occupy more of my mind, leaving less to be so negative with myself.
There are many methods that people can use in place of the ones I mentioned above. For some, meditation works. For others, intense exercise works. The important thing is not necessarily what you use to stop your spiral, but that you learn what works in your life.
Once the dangerous spiral has been stopped, we can turn our attention to correcting our inner language. I take a standard piece of notebook paper and fold it down the middle the long way. On one side I write the negative language I was using. On the other, I will write a healthier way to say that same thought. I can't make myself be positive, but I can take some of the edge off my language (Correct Negative Self-Talk with Positive Truths). For instance, "Nobody will ever love you" becomes "You haven't yet found the right person." "You are a failure." turns into "You are doing the right thing by focusing on your health rather than your career right now." and so on.
Correcting Negative Self-Talk to More Positive Self-Talk Is Important
For so many of us struggling with mental illness, our relationships with ourselves are not in a healthy place. We are terribly tough on ourselves, critiquing endlessly, never satisfied, and never able to acknowledge the positives that we have on a daily basis. If we are able to tell ourselves that we did a great job of taking care of ourselves today, that is a good step. If we can identify our good qualities even if we feel worthless, even better. It is much easier to do all of the things we need to do to maintain our mental health when we can say "I am not at my ideal weight right now, but I am working on it," rather than "I am fat and ugly."
This is not an easy process, but even making a small dent in our internal negativity can have a hugely positive impact on the quality of our lives and the effort it takes to maintain a healthy emotional balance. What do you use to change negative self-talk to positive? Please share in the comments.
For more tips on turning negative self-talk into positive self-talk, see:
Berg, J. (2018, June 8). How to Turn Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2018/6/how-to-turn-negative-self-talk-into-positive-self-talk