We’ve all been told to look on the bright side. It’s usually annoying advice, because life is hard, and people are sometimes promoting toxic positivity (ignoring negative things and just pretending they don’t exist). And looking on the bright side too much can sometimes result in straight up avoidance, or poor conceptualization of an issue that really needs your attention, or a host of other things.
BUT (I’m sure some part of you knew that was coming!)....but the advice isn’t inherently bad. In fact, learning how to use positive self-talk is actually valuable and provides a lot of benefits. The type of benefits that can help you feel more capable. That can help you utilize your energy in efficient and impactful ways. Benefits that can lead to healthier relationships with others and even with yourself.
So, with all of that on the table, let’s dig in a little more!
First, what exactly is self-talk?
Most of us have an inner monologue accompanying us throughout our day. The tone of this monologue has a major impact on our outlook. If it's over-all positive you will likely feel happier and more confident. If your inner monologue is a stream of negative thoughts, you probably feel defeated and inadequate. Depending on how aware you are of your self-talk, you might not even realize these impacts are almost naturally occurring. Looking for more understanding? Here’s some examples of negative self-talk from the Mayo Clinic:
(Side note: these types of self-talk are also called Cognitive Distortions and are often addressed by therapists who use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy–which many of our Marble Wellness therapists do! We also have a blog post on another type of Cognitive Distortion, called “should”ing here)
Filtering. Magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out all the positives. You had a great day at work. You completed your tasks and were complimented for doing a good job. Later, you focused only on doing even more tasks tomorrow and ignore the compliments you received
Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. A gathering is canceled, and you assume it’s because no one wanted to be around you.
Catastrophizing. Anticipating the worst without evidence. A coffee shop gets your order wrong, and you assume the rest of your day will be a disaster.
Magnifying. Making a big deal out of minor problems.
Polarizing. Seeing things only as good or bad with no middle ground.
If you recognize these patterns in yourself, congrats! You’ve taken the first steps towards adjusting your self-talk, and with practice you can continue to change. In fact, our therapists often hear from clients “As soon as I started listening to what I was actually saying, I noticed so many patterns! And while I still have a lot more work to do, just seeing that was helpful and I have been able to make some adjustments. It already feels different and a little better.”
These changes do require active effort, but some of this effort isn’t herculean. Also, this doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge the hardships in life. Instead, we encourage you to work on viewing your challenges and mistakes with compassion and curiosity instead of criticism. You’ll then often find more flexibility in your problem-solving, less shame in managing the issue, and ultimately a lot more victory in overcoming the obstacle.
Now, here are 5 Reasons to Prioritize Positive-Self-Talk:
1. Positive self-talk increases your resilience.
Resilience is how we measure our responses to challenges. It’s what happens when you fall while learning to ride a bike and get right back up and try again. It doesn’t mean that bad things never bother you, but instead that you can bounce back from hurt and disappointment. Resilient people have well-developed coping skills that they can use when times get tough.
Self-talk is one of those skills that vastly increases your resilience. If you can find a positive angle for the challenges in your life, they won’t seem so crushing and overwhelming. If resilience is a rope, positive self-talk is the knots you tie in the rope to help you climb.
2. Positive self-talk improves your health.
Stress can do a lot of damage to our bodies. It causes heart problems, sleep disturbances, and other long-term health risks. Using positive self-talk helps fight this. If we work on not viewing every new challenge as the end of the world, we won’t spend every day keyed up to fight or flee. This lets our bodies rest and recover and helps us hold onto physical and mental balance.
Speaking positively to yourself has been shown to reduce the risk of cardio-vascular problems, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. It also improves your immune system and general quality of life.
3. Your confidence will grow.
It’s second nature for most of us to criticize ourselves constantly. We say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t dream of saying to another person. This might seem like holding yourself accountable, but really all you’re doing is wearing yourself down with self-doubt. If you’re able to speak to yourself compassionately and curiously after you make a mistake, you’ll find that your failures won’t feel so terrible. Talking to yourself this way will also encourage you to find new ways to achieve your goals, instead of using all your energy punishing yourself for making the mistake. We should focus on building ourselves up. The world criticizes us enough; we don’t have to join in.
4. Self-talk helps you be more productive.
Increased confidence means increased productivity. While you shouldn’t do something positive just to get more done, you can still enjoy the perk. You will have less anxiety about doing things and you won’t be constantly second-guessing yourself. Self-criticism and doubt end up wasting a lot of time; you could put that time towards accomplishing your dreams….or even just tackling another load of laundry ;)
5. Self talk creates better relationships.
It’s sometimes hard to be around negative people. Even if we want to support them, someone who’s only ever willing to see the downside or worst-case scenario drains our energy. Positive self-talk lets you be honest with your community about what’s going on in your life without going to the worst outcome. This will make you more enjoyable to spend time with, which will help you maintain a healthy circle of friends and family.
You will also attract more positive and resilient people. We are drawn to people who have energy similar to our own, and we like to find people who build us up. Connecting with positive people and being good influences on each other’s outlooks creates fulfilling and valuable relationships.
Find Help to Improve Self-Talk with Therapists in St. Louis, MO
Life is hard, and sometimes it’s difficult to think positively. But if you put your energy towards self-talk, you will have an easier time navigating your challenges, and you will do that with a supportive community around you.
This change doesn’t happen overnight without a lot of intentionality. If you find that you are struggling to change your thinking, our therapists at Marble Wellness would love to help you develop this skill so you can enjoy the benefits that it will bring to your life.
Additional Counseling Services at Marble Wellness
Counseling services designed to help set you on a path of living a more fulfilled, calm, and happy life. We specialize in anxiety, depression, grief, chronic illness, therapy for men, couples, and maternal overwhelm. We can also help new moms with various postpartum concerns, moms in the thick of parenting, and moms with teens. We can also chat from wherever you are in the state with online therapy in Missouri and online therapy in Illinois. No matter where you are in your journey, we would love to support you.