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Accentuate the Positive Self-Talk

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Keeping a positive outlook on life can certainly be a challenge, especially when there seems to be so much negativity everywhere you turn. While I am slowly learning to master the art of dealing with stress, thanks to many of the suggestions from our members in an earlier blog, learning to project a more positive outlook in my life is the next step to taming the voice inside my head.

In fact, research has shown that negative self-talk can be quite detrimental to our overall health and well being by:

  • Lowering our self-esteem
  • Making us more susceptible to illness
  • Increasing stress in our lives
  • Limiting our abilities to think through an issue or problem
  • Leading to greater anxiety

    This is one area my running coach really has really helped me with. Last summer when I started doing speed drills, it wasn’t too uncommon for me to make up every excuse I could to avoid doing them. I was too old. It was too hot. I just couldn’t do them. But Coach Lee, in all his infinite wisdom that a 25 year could have, would run up right beside me and say, “If you believe you can’t succeed, you won’t. When you have this type of talk going through your mind, you will fulfill exactly what you believe is true. So you need to restructure your self-talk. Tell yourself you will do your best to cross the finish line and you will.”

    While I would like to say I conquered this battle last summer, I have been on this journey far too long to know that it is going to take some time and patience. However, waking up every morning with a positive thought and reading through my countless inspirational quotes and daily affirmations, I am beginning to let go of the negative self-talk, eager to embrace the positive. Just taking a few minutes every day practicing positive self-talk can do wonders.

    If I find I have a lousy dinner Friday night, instead of beating myself up for falling short, I must stop my thinking and change directions. Therefore I tell myself, “Just because I had a not-so-good dinner Friday night does not mean that I have to have a not-so-good weekend. One meal will not undo all the hard work I have done so far.”

    I am also using this same technique in helping me learn to accept my body for what it is. I have been blessed with very muscular legs, but I never really saw them like that until a few months ago. I have learned to accept them for what they are. I no longer refer to them as my ‘fat thighs.’ I now refer to them as powerful hamstrings and quadriceps that allow me to power up a hill or to sprint across the finish line.

    Letting go of the negative self-talk is something I must work at every day. It is so easy to get caught up in it. But once you learn that you are the one in control of how you respond to the negative self-talk, then all you need to do is practice changing directions.

    Have you ever practiced the technique of positive self-talk? Have you ever found yourself falling into the trap of negativity when others start complaining? Do you think that we can change our ways just by how we think?

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This is what we all need to see in the news everyday. I was reading this and thought that I would read my spark people everyday instead of the news. We all have to combat negitivity everyday from many sources and it boggs me down. I loved seeing this, awe inspiring news. Today is going to be a great day, tomorrow too! Report
This is so true! Read the book, "The Power of Positive Thinking," by Norman Vincent Peale, and you will understand how your thoughts shape who you are as person and how you relate to the world. You can change your world if you change your thoughts! Report
For me, a big component of positive self talk is gratitude. If I am thinking too negatively, I need to pause for a moment of gratitude. Even if a situation is difficult or not ideal I can try to find things to be thankful for. In line with the dinner example used in this article, last night I made some stir fry with pork. Not really my favorite dinner to be honest. I don't think I'm very good at making stir fry. But I still managed to be thankful for such a great dinner by remembering how great it was that I got to use up those boneless pork chops and stir fry vegetables. And I also took time to notice the lovely sesame oil flavor in the stir fry. I love the flavor of stir fry cooked in sesame oil. Even though the overall flavor was bland and this dinner would have probably been a 5 on a rating scale of 1-10 I was so appreciative of that one aspect. I also felt grateful for such a healthy dinner that was supportive of my goals. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude! Report
The battle has always been in the mind. thank you for the reminder! Report
Thanks for the encouraging article! Report
Thinking positive in any situation is so helpful! This is a wonderful reminder how important it is. Thanks! Report
I have incoporated my daily affirmations into my other goals to track. I have to repeat them 10 times at least twice daily. Depending on the day and the situation these self-talk phrases are constantly changing.I have found this to be helpful to keep myself focus regarding how I react to a variety of situations especially those that may contribute to the emotional overeating I am so prone to. Report
I am constantly using positive self-talk. I just hope that I don't get caught in the candy aisle self-talking out loud! Report
I loved this article , and needed it , I try to stay away from the negative, and I do use mantras, writing them down 10 times is a great idea for me, thanks Report
sooo true! Love this article. It is a great way to start. Being positive with your thoughts and ourselves. It all starts from our own love we have for ourselves to progress in the life changes we are enduring now. :) Report
Being positive is something my husband considers to be a very attractive quality - if I'm not positive, he tends to leave me alone - almost as if he wants nothing to do with that bad side of me if it comes out but welcomes me with open arms after my mini-funk disappears. Report
I am on a new kick. I only think positive thoughts. I believe this way of thinking can change the world......join me..... Report
This is soooooo true. I have noticed being posititive attracts positive! Report
Negative self talk is one of the biggest obstacles to any kind of success, and something I work on constantly. Thanks for the reminder to keep those positive thoughts flowing. Report
This continues to be an issue for me. I find that I fixate on things that go wrong such as the lousy Friday night dinner. I then let it ruin the weekend. I haven't figured out yet how to not do that. Report
I am so guilty of negative self talk... it stinks, I try to change and then I again find fault in myself... I need to find some mantras that I can keep with me.. does anyone know where I can find some??? Help... Report
I definitely find that sometimes I am more susceptible to negative self-talk than others. Currently, I am in a very stressful place (death in the family, having surgery in 11 days, dealing with teenagers!!!). When I get overwhelmed, I waver on my food plan, and it takes a LOT of self-talk to remind myself that I don't need to be so hard on myself. Especially because that negative self-talk leads to The Dark Side - i.e., overeating, bingeing, and giving up on myself and my good intentions to eat healthy. So I have to push those negative thoughts aside and take a deep breath and remember to be kind to myself by reassuring myself that this one indiscretion is NOT going to undo 230 pounds of success.

Great article, and much needed today! Thanks so much. Report
I am happy to say that I do practice the technique of positive self talk today; it has helped me to meet my goals. Most of the time when others start complaining; I move out of their way; I generally have the attitude that “every cloud has a silver lining”.
I definitely believe in the “power of positive thinking”; I cannot afford to think any other way.
The process to become a certified foster/adopt parent requires a lot of training. Most is done in a classroom with other perspective parents, but some reading is required as well. One of the books I read was called "A safe place for Caleb". It's basically a book from a childs point of view and is meant for a child who has been in they system for a while. Many of these children are moved so many times, to so many families that they believe they are unworthy of a permanent family. Worse, some of these kids learn to like the moves because when they first get to a new house there's usually a lot of new stuff, new people to meet, everyone's nice and more lenient. You know, it's called the honeymoon period.

How does this fit with this blog? Well, the book has an entire section devoted to teaching these kids how to give themselves positive self talk. Teaches them to tell themselves that they are not the problem, they deserve a forever family, they are worthy of a forever family, etc.

There are many situations when knowing how to give positive self-talk is important. In my case, I had something horrible happen to me seven years ago. Shortly after I started having panic attacks, once in an MRI tube, I had to learn how to calm myself. After my divorce I had to keep telling myself that I am a wonderful person, that we just aren't compatible, it's nothing negative about me.

And then there's the life long weight issues. If I have a slip-up diet wise, I tell myself there's a reason I HAD to eat that whole bag of potato chips. What is it? What's going on? Am I upset? Substituting the chips for therapy? Is it because they were available? I don't beat myself up over it, I search myself for the reason behind it.

Some days I just don't feel like exercising. I use the same technique. Why don't I want to exercise? Too tired? Don't care? Don't feel good? If there's a legitimate reason why I don't want to, like I'm sick. I take the day off. If it's because I don't care, I tell myself that I should care. This is my body, I deserve to be healthy and I get a work out in. 99% of the time whatever was going to keep me from exercising is gone. I feel so positive afterwards I can't remember what was pulling me down!

Being able to encourage yourself, be your own cheerleader is so important in so many ways. Report
This is great today - and any day. I read Sparkpeople for a number of reasons including to take a break at work and to read positive comments from others. Report
On SOOOOO many occassions I let my mind get the best of me (especially while running). I think to myself that I just can't go any further, but then some actress comes on TV or I look down at my Muscle & Fitness Hers Magazine that is blocking the time & distance I have been running, and I think to myself, "I'll never get there if I don't push a little further..." That's usually my inspiration to keep on going. It's easy to do the work half way because it hurts so much to do it right, but as long as I remind myself that I will see results and prevent injury by doing everything in full, I can usually push myself to the level I need to be at. Report
When I catch myself talking negatively to me, I change that voice in my head to the ridculous voice of Charlie Brown's teacher. Then all I hear is "mwaah mwaah mwahh" and who can take that seriously?

Then I "allow" Sean Connery's voice to whisper encouraging words in my ear. Who can give up when you hear him saying, "You can do this, my dear!"?
When I feel things are bad I pray and then I remind myself that these discouraging thoughts that take us off focus are not from God. If let unchecked they will destroy our joy in our progress. I repeat to myself that in him all things are possible and I accept the joy that he brings. Report
Great article. Just yesterday evening I had this discussion with a friend that is discouraged. I sent this article to him. It will certainly help. It is easier to pull someone down than it is to lift them up so we have to ensure we always empathize the positive. Report
Good article. I use affirmations to help keep a positive attitude. Report
thanks for the article. I need to remember to do this. I always talk myself out of doing things, and I really need to stop doing that. Report
I use affirmations for several things. While exercising ~ "I'm burning up calories and boosting my metabolism." Report
Thanks for sharing your thoughts...I always try to be upbeat and reading this has sparked me even more. I will be sharing this with my team...new people joining all the time. They need to read this, it help give them the boost that they need to affirm that they can do it.
I think with anything you want to accomplish you have to embrace positively in your mind and there is no stopping you.

Speaking of which, did you any of you see this week's Biggest Loser show? (3/24)
Despite the pounds that were added to her vehicle, Lara persevered and won the challenge. She focused on doing it and did. Amazing - but what an example of positive thinking.

Have a Great Day!
:o) Report
Ah! Powerful calves! I like that!
-LL Report
I have to work really hard at this too. In a strange twist of things recently, I am being really succesful at positive self-talk when it comes to diet and exercise and healthy living and its showing a different. but in my professional life where i have up until recently always been positive anyway, i'm now really struggling with negative self-talk... hopefully the lessons and confidence from one will flow over to the other. I do believe that negative self talk is really unhealthy and completely transforms your ability to be succesful. Report
I do the 5 minutes pep talk, but I had to adjust it as I became too confident. I stopped loosing weight because I felt that I am not too fat and I like my body as it is. That is still true, but I know I have to loose at least 10 pounds to be healthy, so I changed that pep talk and included "to be healthy I have to loose a little weight". Report
In my daily journal I write 3 things I did well that day. I also belong to a group here on SP that we post our 3 positves for that day. It really has helped me keep positive about myself and my progress I have made in my new healthy life style.
Great article. You expressed in words what I always try to do although it is not always so easy when it comes to myself. I need to constantly practice positive self talk and surround myself with happy, positive people. Thank you for this article. Report
"Do you think that we can change our ways just by how we think?"

Of course!! Where else does it start, but in your brain/mind?
We are what we think.
It's one of the few truths I know in life.
I know that everything changes, everything eventually comes to an end, and that whether I think I can or I can't~ I'm probably right.

Fantastic Article! Report
"..to restructure your self-talk. Tell yourself you will do your best to cross the finish line and you will.”
Something in this article reminded me of an instance in my life of positive thinking. When working in sales, our team leader would come around and say that if you tell yourself you will get the next sale.. you will.. and it worked, even though I was skeptical. so.. THINK THIN and HEALTHY! Report
This is one of the things I have to work at the hardest. It was so easy to just give up. But I can't do that this time!! I have already came so far & I can't go back there. If I goof up. Okay it is done it is time to add some more execise and move on. I make little list for me to read here & there to re inforce happy thoughts!!! Report
great article, the power of the mind is a daily challenge, you can choose to be sad
or glad just by thinking. Or people who are neg. When I run across someone beiing neg. everytime they say something i say WHY, Why, soon they get the point and start thinking. It works 90 %of the time.
BJ Report
What a timely article. I think it is one of my FAVORITE Favorites. I can't imagine always seeing negative in everything....I try to look at everybody/everything in a positive light. But when it comes to me,,,,I guess I'm not quite so forgiving. I will start working on this, after all I am unique in being me and I do like me. So I'll start focusing more positive energy on the "muscular thighs" and the "smile lines". Report
I try to ignore my inner whiner by making positive observations. "Isn't this wind fantastic?" or "Look, I've gone farther than I did yesterday! Awesome!". I can get almost disgustingly cheery but it carries me. Report
What a Great article!!! This is a very big problemfor me . Through my life I have been in verbally abusive relationships. I relize the most abusive is the relationship is with myself. I will definately be more aware of my self talks and learn to love myself for who I really am not "who I think I am" Report
Negative self-talk is one of my biggest challenges and why I made it my own personal SP goal to be nice to myself in the mirror every day. I can't tell you how many times I passed a mirror, looked into it, and said something horrible to myself. It was so easy to continue the abuse because I didn't believe I was worth more. Now, I know I am worth more - so much more - and now I walk by the mirror, look in, and say, "Way to go, babe!" or something else that acknowledges the perfect person I already am and always have been.

Make it a personal goal - it works! Report
Very Good article. I have a similar sentiment on my SparkPage. It's something I have to work on each day. Report
Love the article and it is so true. I started telling myself, "I lose weight easily now:" and guess what - down 7 lbs in one week. I'm sure some is water but I have never had that happen before but I guess since it is so easy for me now its no problem ;-D. I do distance myself from negativity and do my best not to let it drag me down. What you think about does come about and really how your life is, is how you perceive it.

One tip I am doing. I handwrite out affirmations, ten times - supposedly it leaves a more powerful imprint on your psyche than simply stating it.

To your continued success! Report
I know a book you might be interested in. It's called: The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles, and it was written by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte.

I learned about it last fall at a workshop on resilience taught by Andrew Shatte, which turned out to be an unexpectedly good experience. The book talks a lot about how thinking styles affect our ability to cope with stress. One of the points they make is that people tend to selectively focus on the negative things that happen in the course of a day rather than the positive ones. They recommend that we make a point of thinking about good things that have happened as a way to build optimism and resilience.

My Jane Austen team has a "What did you do to Sparkle today?" topic on one of our message boards that is there to encourage contributors to think about and share good things that they have done or that have happened to them in a day.

Here is an excerpt from the Amazon.com review of "The Resilience Factor": "In the capable hands of psychologists Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté, resilience is not a Band-Aid or a buzzword. It is a habit of mind. The Resilience Factor is a practical roadmap for navigating unexpected challenges, surprises, and setbacks at work and home. Their premise--that your thinking style determines your resilience--underlies the books promise: you can boost resilience by changing the way you think about adversity."

I recommend it.

I hope you are having an easier week than last week!
Janet Report
i try to stay away from people who are negative!! Report
I belong to a Spark Team (Be Kind To Yourself) that has been absolutely wonderful for positive self talk. I was inspired to make several of my daily goals related versions of positive self talk. It has made a world of difference in my attitude. I am much more positive, especially since I've had a particularly difficult year. I have learned that I am strong and I will prevail against adversity. Report
I find the "positive talk" works temporarily for me, and then my natural anxiety and pessimism take over. When I was younger I let it get to me; as I mature (ha!) I just give myself more positive feedback. That seems to work. Report
I've been praciticing positive self-talk for about 10-15 years now. It started with a wonderful Christian Psychiatrist who taught me about psychology and psychiatry as well as teaching me through the Scriptures. I miss him terribly, but his teaching has stuck with me these years. It is thanks to him that I now pass on his wisdom to others who either ask for it or I blog about it. Report
I have found when I beat myself up I get depressed and do myself no good. However when I tell myself I can help people no matter what the circumstance I find myself doing something good for myself as well as others. it puts me in a positive mood when I do that and I feel good about myself. When I'm positive I accomplish things for everyone involved. Report
I can't believe just now is when I'd find your blog...Must be by a higher grace than my own, that's all I'll say. For much of my life I've always thought down at myself, made up excuses, lived in a shell of 'can't' and 'wont' and all to unfortunately, 'not good enough.' ...your blog was very well timed, just then I'd been worrying about what my boyfriend is doing, that he must be angry at me over something. (I very much doubt that, but it's one of the negative thoughts that rules me sometimes). ...and this was a good, quiet reminder that ...Indeed the only feelings I can understand, and know are my own, only within myself can I find the strength, and beauty which I really am. If I want to be bad, and ugly, and stupid I will be...and if I want to be kind, and intelligent, and beautiful, I will be.

Just a thought, thank you for posting, and ...well ...helping me, even without meaning too. Report
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