Prerna is a thinker, observer, reader & writer. She is always curious to learn. She is a strong believer in human potential.
Learning to be kind to yourself is work worth doing, experts say. Replacing negative psychological messages with positive ones can build self-esteem and confidence, and may bring results that surprise you in all the right ways. To get there, it all starts with self-talk.
You can do it. You’re strong. You’ve got this. Those are the kinds of encouraging words we extend to friends, colleagues, and family members when they’re experiencing self-doubt.
When facing our own challenges, the inner dialogue is often very different. I’m a terrible public speaker. I take too long to write these reports. Everyone in this class is so much smarter than I am. Suddenly, the compassion we so naturally and generously extend to others seems to evaporate.
But learning to be kind to yourself is work worth doing, experts say. Replacing negative psychological messages with positive ones can build self-esteem and confidence, and may bring results that surprise you in all the right ways. To get there, it all starts with self-talk.
"Loving or hating the life you are living is solely all in your repeated self-talk."
— Edward Mbiaka
“Many people are conscious of an inner voice that provides a running monologue throughout the day and even into the night. Cheerful and supportive or negative and self-defeating, this internal chatter is referred to as self-talk,” according to Psychology Today magazine.
This inner voice combines conscious thoughts with unconscious beliefs and biases. This voice is useful when it is positive, talking down fears and bolstering confidence.
But human nature is prone to negative self-talk, however, and this negativity can be unrealistic and even harmful, paralyzing people into inaction and self-absorption to the point of being unaware of the world around them.
Types of self-talk
There are several kinds of self-talk. Each of us, each day, may use any of five different levels of self-talk.
1. Negative acceptance (“I can’t…”)
The five levels of self-talk start at the lowest, least beneficial level. At the bottom of the list and the most harmful self-talk, we can use is Level 1, the level of Negative Acceptance. That is self-talk by which you say something bad or negative about yourself, and you accept it.
“I just don’t have the energy I used to,” “I could never do that,” “I just can’t seem to lose weight,” and “I just can’t!,” are typical of the kinds of doubts, fears, misgivings, and hesitations we program ourselves with when we say any Level 1 self-talk phrase to ourselves, out loud, silently, or to someone else. Remember, the subconscious mind is listening and waiting for our instructions, and it doesn’t care what we tell it; it just does it!
2. Recognition and need to change (“I need to… I should…”)
This level is beguiling. On the surface, it looks as though it should work for us. But instead, it works against us! In this level of self-talk, we are stating to ourselves and others our recognition of our need to change.
Level 2 self-talk is characterized by words such as, “I need to. . .,” or “I ought to. . .,” or “I should. . . .”
Why does that work against us?
Because it recognizes a problem but creates no solution. When you say to yourself (or to someone else), “I really need to get more organized,” what are you really saying?
You are saying, “I really need to get more organized . . . but I’m not!” When you complete the sentence, it is always, unconsciously, ended with an unspoken, but still programmed, Level 1 statement of negative self-talk!
3. The decision to change (“I never… I no longer…”)
Level 3 is characterized by the words, “I never . . .,” or “I no longer.” At this level, you say, “I never smoke!” “I no longer have a problem dealing with people at work.” “I never eat more than I should.” “I never get upset in traffic.” “I no longer put off doing anything I want to get done.” When you move to Level 3, you are automatically beginning to rephrase old negative “can not,” putting them behind you, and stating them in a positive new way that tells your subconscious mind to wake up, get moving, and make the change.
“Watch what you tell yourself, you’re likely to believe it.”
— Russ Kyle
4. The better you (“I am…”)
Level 4 Self-Talk is characterized by the words, “I am . . .” “I am organized and in control of my life. I am a winner! I am healthy, energetic, enthusiastic, and I’m going for it! Nothing can stop me now. I like who I am, I am in tune, on top, and in touch, I have determination, drive, and self-belief. I am living the life I choose, and I choose what’s right!”
Level 4 Self-Talk is the positive Self-Talk that is the opposite of Level 1. It replaces helpless “can not’s” with vibrant “Yes, I cans!” Level 4 Self-Talk inspires, encourages, urges, and implores. It tugs at our hearts, touches our hopes, and paints in the pictures that color our dreams. It excites, demands, and pushes us forward.
5. The universal affirmation (It is…)
This level of Self-Talk has been spoken for thousands of years. It is as old as the ancient religions which inspired it. This is a level most people never reach. It the level of unity of spirit that gives meaning to our life purpose. At this level, you believe you manifest your destiny through the energy you put out into the world. With positive thoughts and ambitions, comes success. With negative thoughts and self-pity, comes ultimate failure. At this level, you might believe “I am one with the universe, and it is one with me. I exist in a world of divine goodness.”
This is the Self-Talk for seekers, still living among mankind, but anxious to find a greater reward.
Take a minute and think about what you’ve said to yourself today. Was it negative or positive? The conversations you have with yourself can be destructive or beneficial.
By working on replacing negative self-talk with more positive self-talk, you’re more likely to feel in control of stuff that’s going on in your life and to achieve your goals.
I urge you to begin to use the self-talk of levels 3 & 4.
Give yourself the kind, loving, determined support you would give to others.
Harness the power of the ultimate motivator – YOU!
Reference – Walden University Education for good
Book - What to say when you talk to yourself by Dr. Shad Helmstetter
© 2021 Prerna Dhulekar