Self-talk is your internal dialogue. It’s influenced by your subconscious mind, and it reveals your thoughts, beliefs, questions, and ideas about yourself. It’s our inner voice! You may or may not have spent much time thinking about it or giving it any attention, but it’s actually very powerful.

Of course, self-talk can be both positive and negative. It can be supportive and beneficial, motivating you, or it can be harmful and undermine your confidence. The good news is that we can train our brains to shift from a negative thought pattern to a more resilient and optimistic internal dialogue. 

Positive self-talk focuses on the good about yourself and what’s going on in your life; it's showing yourself some self-compassion and understanding for who you are and what you’ve been through. Imagine how nice it would be to always have a positive voice in your head cheering you on, helping you to always feel supported! Practicing these steps will make it easier over time - you can become your own strongest encourager.

Research shows us that positive thinking and optimism are also effective stress management tools. From correcting negative thoughts to coping during difficult times, learning how to self-talk in a positive way can provide a significant shift in our mental health over the long term.

Here’s how to start:

What we tell ourselves about ourselves can transform the quality of how we live our life. If you learn to practice internal positivity, you’ll start to see positivity everywhere. The same logic applies to negative self-talk too; all the more reason to learn to shift into the brighter side. (We all have these distortions at some point, so this is more a gentle reminder to catch ourselves when we hear ourselves doing them, and not get caught in the self-blame game.) 

Get curious with yourself and notice how you talk to and about yourself (without judging it). How does this impact your day-to-day life? 

Gently turn your thoughts around and spin them in a more positive light. Try some of these:

Identifying negative thinking - and turning it around 

Start to monitor your thoughts, and pause and reflect while you really listen to your internal dialogue. If you catch yourself in one of these four negative self-talk patterns, remind yourself of your powerful mind and your ability to change the story you're telling yourself.

Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. That evening, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.

Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. 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.

Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.

Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you're a total failure.

Once you notice one of these emerging, immediately label it as a negative thought pattern. Then, start the next thought with, “I choose to believe…” and follow it up with a positive thought. 
For instance:
• Instead of, “This day is just going to get worse,” try, “I don’t want to catastrophize. I choose to believe my day will be great.” 
• Instead of, “That lecture was long and a waste of time,” try, “I don’t want to magnify. I choose to believe I learned something new.” 

Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. Isn’t it strange how people can be nicer to their friends than they are to themselves? In some cases, if we spoke to our friends the way we speak to ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends. 
Change the script by focusing on self-love and self-acceptance instead of self-judgment.
Ask yourself:
• What would the people who care about me say about this right now?
• If my dear best friend/beloved family member were talking about themselves this way, how would I respond and encourage them? 
“Should" statementsNotice how the word "should" might creep into your self-narrative. You might tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or that you should be doing things differently.
 “Musts,” “oughts” and “have tos” are similar offenders. “Should statements” that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration.

How does it feel to shift to a gentler place?

• “I should have been more available." --> "I do a lot for other people and need to take care of myself too."

• “I should keep working; we're so busy and it's too hard to step away." --> "Taking time away from work is necessary. I feel better and am more valuable once I'm refreshed."

• "People will think less of me if I rest. I have to push through." ---> "I know I am valued at [work/home]. Stepping away to recharge won't change that, and I have the ability to stand up for myself too."   

• "I really ought to have conquered this fear or anxiety." ---> "I am trying my best and am going to accept myself how I am today."   

Give yourself positive affirmations. Sometimes, seeing positive words or inspiring images can be enough to redirect your thoughts. Post small reminders in your office, in your home, and anywhere you spend a significant amount of time. Focus on surrounding yourself with people who talk positively about you and encourage you to do the same.