How often do you pay attention to that little voice inside your head? You know the one — it narrates your life, informs how you think, and always seems to have an opinion. And if you need to work on ways to have more positive self-talk, then the voice may even be downright mean. When that's the case, it's time to switch out all that negativity for something a bit more positive.
Because even though that voice isn't technically real, it can start to feel like a catty coworker, or snarky twin, is following you around 24/7. When you two aren't on good terms, things can get ugly. "If we take part in negative self-talk as a general way of life, we do not believe we are capable of many things," says psychologist Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. "Negative self talk can create a consistent thread of stress in our lives that can cause numerous physical and mental health issues, which can have an even larger impact on our lives than simply missing out on an opportunity."
In short, negative self-talk ain't good. Luckily, there are a million and one ways to switch things up, and start talking to yourself in a kinder way. Here are some ways to do just that.
1. Start The Day With Some Positive Mantras
Sure, you can wake up and start right in on the cranky, miserable, "case of the Mondays" stuff. Or, you can practice filling up your brain with some more positive thoughts. This is one of the first things Martinez recommends to her patients when getting them to adjust their self-talk. "I have them integrate positive daily mantras into their morning routines to start their day on a good note," Martinez says. It really can make all the difference.
2. Try Not To Catastrophize Everything
Yes, life can be downright annoying sometimes. But don't let a negative highlight reel play your head, especially when things don't go your way. "If you miss your train or come down with the flu, don't treat it as a catastrophe," said Joanne Barker on WebMD.com. "Instead, tell yourself it's an inconvenience to cope with and then get on with your life." After all, most things really aren't that big of a deal.
3. Tell Yourself You Can Do Anything
Take a second and think about how often you use the word "try" in any given day. I'm sure you say things like, "I'll try to get there on time," or "I'll try to email you back by 5." We all do it without even realizing how much it implies failure. "[Saying 'try'] gives the message that we are less likely to follow through if we say we are going to 'try,' versus saying we are going to 'do,'" Martinez says. It can really help to cut back on the word, or even stop using it all together.
4. Get Rid Of Your More Negative Words
It's funny how much language has an impact on the way we feel. For example, think about the difference between saying you feel tired, versus saying you feel exhausted. Are you really exhausted? Probably not, so why use such a strong word? By simply lightening up your vocabulary, it can make life feel far less dramatic.
5. Question Your Initial Thoughts
If you just said or did something silly, it can feel like the end of the world. And yet, the more likely scenario is that no one even noticed, according to Jancee Dunn on HuffingtonPost.com. So don't beat yourself up, or act like it's the end of the world. Because it definitely isn't.
6. Say "I Don't" Instead Of "I Can't"
Let's say you just started exercising again, and you find yourself on the treadmill thinking, "I can't do this." Immediately, you feel defeated and hop right off. That's because saying "I can't" implies limitation and constraint, according to Polly Campbell on PsychCentral.com. That simple phrase makes your new health routine feel awful, and out of your control. So next time, change things up and say, "I don't want to do this." That phrase has an entirely different ring, and shows that the decision to go on (or not) is totally in your control.
7. Talk To Yourself Like A Friend
Isn't it funny how we're full of supportive and sage advice for friends, but can never do that for ourselves? Keeping this little truth in mind may help you be a bit nicer to yourself. "If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself," suggested Dunn. Simple as that.
8. Don't Assume It's Always About You
Negative self-talk can have you believing some pretty heinous things. "For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you," noted an article on MayoClinic.org. Unless your friends aren't friends at all, that is almost 100 percent not the case. So squash down that inner critic, and stop assuming the worst.
9. Quit Picking Yourself Apart
When looking in the mirror, I'm sure a long list of adjectives spring to mind. But are any of them positive? If not, try switching up what you zero in on. "Whenever you look in the mirror, make it a point to focus on a positive feature and give yourself at least one compliment," said Nia Shanks on Greatist.com. Get those words in your head, and pretty soon they'll start to feel more legit.
10. Give Your Inner Critic A Name
It can help to separate that tiny, mean voice in your head as something unrelated to you, according to psychologist Tamar E. Chansky, PhD, in an interview with Dunn. Give it a proper name, or call it as it is — such as The Perfectionist. Once you realize it's not "you," it may be easier to ignore.
11. Focus On Positivity
Everyone has shortcomings. Everyone has a bad day (or days, or weeks). Don't let it get you down, or become what you identify with. "The more you focus on negative events or shortcomings, the harder it is to put them behind you," Barker said.
Instead, say those positive mantras, separate yourself from your inner critic, and stop saying things like "I can't" or "I'll try." Soon, you'll be all about that positive self-talk.
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