Whether we know it or not, we’re consistently having an internal dialog about ourselves to ourselves throughout each day. This can be constructive, but it can also be very destructive. Can you imagine the effect that predominantly negative self-talk can have on an individual over time?
Self-talk influences us both mentally and physically. The good news is, once we become aware of the thoughts that are running through our heads, we have the power to change them–and in turn, make some big changes in our lives.
Positive self-talk requires more than just looking in a mirror and saying nice things to your reflection. In an interview with NPR, David Sarwer, psychologist and clinical director at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania, says the goal is to remove “negative and pejorative terms” from the patient’s self-talk.
For example, instead of saying “My abdomen is disgusting and grotesque,” you could say ‘’My abdomen is round, my abdomen is big; it’s bigger than I’d like it to be.” The underlying notion is that it’s not enough for a patient to lose physical weight — or gain it, as some women need to — if she doesn’t also change the way her body looks in her mind’s eye.
The shift in thinking positively about your body image doesn’t simply happen after you go from a size 8 to a size 4. In a 2013 study, scientists watched women with anorexia walk through doorways in a lab. The women, they noticed, turned their shoulders and squeezed sideways, even when they had plenty of room. In their minds, the women thought they were physically much larger than they actually were. Although we may not realize it, our internal representation of ourselves affects our deeper physical habits.
You’ve probably heard the phrase saying is believing. And to an extent, this is true. In a Psychology Today article, Amy Morin writes, “Developing a productive inner dialogue is one of the most productive ways mentally strong people keep building their mental muscle, and repeating positive, yet realistic affirmations can drown out the negative thoughts that can hold you back.” This is easy enough when life is going well, but it becomes extra important when you’re facing hardship. Morin includes the following nine mantras you can use to stay mentally strong:
- I have what I need to get through this.
- Living according to my values is what really matters.
- Failure is part of the road to success.
- All I can do is my best.
- Five years from now this won’t matter as much as I think it will.
- I’m stronger than I think.
- I can handle feeling uncomfortable.
- I am in control of how I think, feel, and behave.
- I’ve been knocked down before and I can get back up again.
Positive mantras like these can help you lead a healthier life and inspire you to behave more productively, which is key to getting through tough times.
We can always do more to spread positivity. But many of us don’t realize that the positivity starts with us, and our own self-talk. So try it out! And if you want some help getting started, feel free to contact me at (541) 610-9500.