You may read about positive self-talk and think it’s a load of feel-good nonsense that doesn’t work in the real world. You may think it belittles real problems and creates a false sense of your own capabilities. It may just make you feel silly.

The truth is that positive self-talk is an important, scientifically-proven tool to help you cope with whatever life throws at you. It’s also a common practice among successful leaders.

What is self-talk?

All day when you walk around school and interact with teachers, parents, siblings, and friends, you keep up a running commentary in your head. This is self-talk – the things you say that only you can hear. Most self-talk is fun and useful, psyching you up before a sports game or reminding you of things you’ve forgotten, but sometimes it can be really negative – putting down others or, worst of all, dragging yourself down.

Negative self-talk hurts even worse than the things other people say about you. It means you don’t get a respite, even inside your own head. Instead of making everything fun, negative self-talk makes even an okay situation feel much worse.

Why bother practicing positive self-talk?

If you’re asking yourself this question, you probably need positive self-talk more than anyone.

The words you say to yourself shift your confidence. No matter how much you pretend it doesn’t matter, it does. The more confident and happy you feel, the better equipped you are for dealing with setbacks. It’s also less likely you’ll feel stressed or develop other health problems. You’ll be able to push through and achieve your goals.

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Learning positive self-talk takes practice. It can feel silly, but it’s worthwhile to keep persevering. As you practice it begins to feel natural.

How to identify and transform negative self-talk

There are three key steps to transforming negative self-talk into a more positive outlook. You need to:

  • Listen to what you say to yourself and identify when you’re being negative. You can keep a notebook of the things you say.
  • Challenge your words. Dissect your self-talk. Is what you’re saying objectively true? We often talk in absolutes – “I’m a failure,” or “everyone thinks I’m an idiot.” Ask yourself what you’d say to a friend if they said that about themselves.
  • Change your self-talk: This is the toughest part. When you catch yourself talking negatively about yourself, flip the switch and remind yourself of things that you like about yourself. What are you proud of? What makes you happy? Get excited about solutions – instead of thinking you’ll never be able to do something, ask yourself what you can do to improve your performance.

Of course, it’s impossible to be positive all the time, but if you’re sinking into the habit of talking negatively about yourself, you undermine your own confidence, self-esteem, and talents. When you transform your self-talk, you’ll be better equipped to tackle challenges and face down obstacles.

Culled from Youthline