Most of us are in constant mental chatter. We talk to ourselves all day long and, and unfortunately for many of us, this self talk can often be negative. It can involve guilt/shame about our past or fear/anxiety about our future. This negativity can destroy any seed of hope that we may otherwise have in striving for our dreams. The reason I bring this up is because I caught myself in one of those negative thought cycles yesterday as I was shopping for clothes. Anybody else relate to how looking for something flattering to wear can stir up negative self talk like nothing else?
Over in my Raw Food Rehab group, we've already discussed in some detail that our actions are inspired by our thoughts. If we can change the way we think, we can begin to change the actions we take. Practicing positive self talk can help us set in motion actions that will bring us greater rewards.
I've had the followings information stored in my computer for awhile and after yesterday's shopping meltdown, I decided I needed to take another gander at the seven steps to positive self talk. (the following steps were originally from the website Pick The Brain) These steps help to rid inner conversations of negativity and replace them with empowering thoughts. If I needed a refresher, I thought your might like to read them too:
1. Eliminate Internal Negative Chatter
The first step is one of awareness. It will be hard to make a change to positive thinking without being acutely intimate with the thoughts that run through your mind. Recently, I was amazed to discover deep buried emotions from negative thoughts that I had for fewer than 10 minutes. Without awareness, I would have carried the hurt and anger inside. Awareness helped me to bring them out to the open for me to deal with.
Undoubtedly it will not be easy to make a switch if you have a long history or negative self talk. Your talk became negative over the years due to various factors. For instance, if your first grade teacher repeatedly told you that you were “stupid”, you might believe it to be truly the case. You would find that your inner chatter would often be filled with talk of “I am so slow” and “it is so hard to learn”. If you constantly tell yourself such negative stories, your actions are going to reflect your low self esteem. It will be difficult to get very far if you are always putting yourself down.
A common negative talk involves telling yourself “I can’t”. When you say to yourself “I can’t” or “it is too difficult”, you are creating a resistance. Having such a mental block will prevent you from achieving a task you could otherwise succeed at.
Anytime you catch yourself saying “I can’t…”, turn around and challenge your own claim with, “Why can’t I?” Research shows that most geniuses became the people they are also because of the hard work they put in. So if you would like to be successful, you need to start saying “I can” a lot more.
A great method that I have also found useful is to say “Cancel Cancel” each time I find myself saying something negative, whether in the mind or verbally. The method works if you sincerely have the intent of becoming a positive thinker. (This is when we should just hit the reset button!)
2. Positive Affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements of a desired outcome or goal. They are usually short, believable and focused. By repeating them over and over again, you build inroads into your subconscious mind, opening up the possibility of a new state of thoughts.
An important step when repeating affirmations is that you need to read your affirmations aloud with feeling. The mere reading of the words bears no consequence unless you put some emotions behind them. Of significant fact is that your subconscious mind takes any orders given in complete faith and after repeated self talk. So the daily practice of repeating affirmations is important.
Initially you may feel skepticism toward the statement of your positive affirmation. However, if you follow this simple set of instructions your skepticism will soon give way to a new set of beliefs and then crystallized into absolute faith. (I know this seems awkward and even silly, but I think it is a VERY HELPFUL practice.)
3. Positive Scripts
One thing that you may observe is how easy it is for your mind to build negative thought upon negative thought. The chatter not only does not stop but it spins a drama that traps and limits you.
From now on, regularly do this exercise instead. Spin an uplifting story that runs like a movie script. Some visualization will be helpful. You build on a story with a positive outline. The longer you can tell this story to yourself the better. It is also best if you can make this story one about having all your goals achieved. When you do this, you start to internalize your goals and dreams, as if they are something that you have already achieved.
4. Replace Negative Influences with Positive Ones
It is important that you identify external negative factors in your life which may be holding your thoughts hostage. For instance, your mental state can become toxic by being around friends who have a negative, jealous or resentful nature. If you are not vigilant enough, you will start to adopt their thoughts as your own. Hence, be alert to what your negative influences are. If they come from certain friends, limit your exposure to them as much as you can. Refrain from discussing your plans with people who will be unsupportive or sabotaging of your dreams and goals. Power seeking, controlling people can be one of life biggest emotional vampires.
Instead surround yourself with thoughts and actions from people who will empower you.
From being uninspired and de-motivated, you will begin to feel uplifted and driven to greater self growth. The positive energy that they vibrate will start affecting the self talk that you engage in as well.
5. Present Tense Messages
You may find yourself daunted by the many things you need to do in order to reach your goals. It just seems overwhelming to become the success that you secretly desire for. Your mind gets caught up in an endless stream of worry.
What may be helpful is to concentrate on steps you can take in the present. If you find yourself becoming stuck, stop and say, “What can I do right now?” Change your internal talk from a future anxiety ridden one to one that is about the more manageable present. You cannot control what will happen in the future but you can take the necessary steps now that will build a better tomorrow. Taking the necessary steps require you to focus your thoughts and inner talk on Now.
6. Confront Fears
Fear is often what holds you back from your success. You are scared of taking chances because you fear losing the security that you enjoy now. You try to convince yourself that you are happy in your current state when in fact, you are not. Your self talk may sound positive in your attempt to lie to yourself. But somehow, there is an inner knowing that you are short changing yourself.
Ask yourself what you are afraid of. What can be the worst that can happen? Take a step-by-step approach in breaking down your fears and see if there is any way round to looking at things more positively. When you confront your fears, you will often realize that the worst case scenario is not as bad as you think. In fact, the benefits of change are worth the risk. Your inner talk begins to change at this point.
7. Focus on Enjoyable Moments
It is much easier to have a positive attitude if you focus on the enjoyable moments in life rather than the difficult ones. While there will inevitably be challenges, you need to remember that life consists of ups and downs and the good times are forged through the bad.
So choose to fill your mind with positive images and thoughts. Make it a conscious habit. Simply bring your mind back every time it goes astray in its thoughts. For a start, if you can be grateful for what you have presently, your self talk will also change to be in alignment with one of joy. A state of gratitude does wonders to your psyche.
Replacing self talk from a negative to a more positive one is not going to happen overnight. If your mind has ingrained habits of thinking negatively, it will take some work and time. However, if you find yourself often struggling, unable to achieve your goals and talking yourself down, then you should grit your teeth and commit to the process of change.
By following the above tips to positive self talk, you will experience marked improvement in the quality of your life. The rewards are plentiful with greater happiness, peace and joy. Best of all, you feel empowered. With the change in energy, you are more likely to reach your highest potential and achieve success.