“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
– Willie Nelson
Is your glass half empty or half full?
The conversations we have with ourselves (also known as self-talk) play a very important role in how we feel, act, and perform. Believe it or not, the words you tell yourself can directly affect your confidence, energy, satisfaction, and success. That’s because we all have two voices in our head: a negative one, and a positive one. One is useful, and the other, not so much!
Many of us tend to think more negatively when we encounter setbacks, mistakes, and challenges. The good news is that we can fix this! I’m not saying that your negative perspective will magically disappear – but you can work on changing it with these positive self-talk activities and tips.
Easy Tricks to Positive Self-Talk
1. Take a second to think about it.
Like any type of behaviour change, the first step is always self-awareness.
It will be tough to change the way you think if you are NOT aware of how you talk to yourself in the first place. You need to realize the kind of things that go through your head on a daily basis. Here’s how you can begin your journey on the road to positive self-talk:
At the end of the day, grab a piece of paper, or the notepad in your phone, and write about your performance that day: what you thought about yourself, and how you handled difficult situations. Do this for a few days and you will be able to notice patterns or habits in the way you talk to yourself.
2. “I can do this!”
So what exactly is the definition of positive self-talk?
Using statements that are encouraging and uplifting such as, “I’ll give it my best shot” and “I can do this!” are positive self-talk examples that you should be saying to yourself when you face challenges. Realize what kind of statements you tell yourself when you are performing, or when things don’t go your way. Write them down on a piece of paper or notepad.
We tend to always say the same things when something goes wrong or not. Once you know your “go-to” words, it will be easier for you to make “the switch” later on.
If you cannot think of any positive statements that you’ve said to yourself in the past – you should just give up now. Just kidding! Think about WHAT positive statements you would like to start saying to yourself. Be ready to write them down. Use this list to boost your confidence and motivation when the going gets tough!
3. The Switch
When trying to develop positive self-talk, cues can be a great helper to nip those negative thoughts in the bud. Before launching into a downward spiral, you can use a cue to prevent the dangers of negative thinking.
When you notice yourself saying things like, “I suck at this” for instance, or if you begin to dwell on past failures, use a word or image to help you stay focused and in a more positive state of mind. Telling yourself, “stop!” can help you clear your mind and reset.
If that doesn’t work for you, try out a physical cue such as a shake of your head, or perhaps snapping your fingers. Once you’ve established your cue, then you can do the switch. Replace your negative self-talk with a positive one and see the difference.
4. Acknowledge Your Strengths
One of the best positive self-talk activities to try out is to list the things you are good at. As we tend to focus on our weaknesses in general, it’s very important that we know our strengths as well.
To develop your positive self-talk, you need to know how to talk gently about yourself – brag a little bit even! What are you good at? Why do your friends like you? What are you thankful for? What good things would your parents and teachers say about you? Why is it important for you to get up every morning?
Think about this and before you know it, you will see a change in your confidence and the overall way that you speak about yourself. Realize your successes and give yourself a pat on the back because no one else will do it for you.
5. It’s All About the Positive Vibes
“Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”
Emotions and behaviors can be contagious. So if you are always around people who tend to focus on mistakes and failures, then there is a good chance that those behaviors will rub off on you as well. Surround yourself with people who are positive: people who motivate and support you.
You cannot avoid challenges and setbacks, but you can create a positive environment that includes friends and family that will lift you up when times get rough. It’s all about the positive vibes!
6. Do What You Love
It is so easy to get caught up in the daily stresses of life. A lot of us tend to worry about the future and forget to focus on the now, which does NOT help our positive self-talk. Things usually work out, and if you keep making up negative scenarios and situations, it will be hard for you to stay in a good mood and perform at your best.
Forget about the things that you cannot change, relax, and take time to reset. Figure out what makes you happy. What is that one thing you do that gets you in your bubble? If exercising is what takes your mind off things and gets you in a more positive mood, do it! Now I am not saying to try and go to the gym everyday; but just taking the time to go for a 15-minute jog is a good start.
When your realize that you are focusing too much on things you cannot control, take a step back and reset!
7. Keep a Journal
It is easier said than done, but like I just mentioned, stop worrying about things that are out of your control. It is what it is, folks. Learn from your mistakes and move on. If you are struggling with seeing the positives in a bad situation, I challenge you to start a highlight journal.
At the end of each day, write down at least three things that went well. Now, you might have the worst day ever – you missed your bus to get to work, your go-to lunch place ran out of your favorite sandwich, you have to stay and work until 9pm on a Friday, your best friend bailed on your evening plans, and to top it off you lost your wallet on the way home.
Now what could you possibly write in your highlight journal at the end of the day?!
You have to dig deep, because at this point, it is the little things that matter. Maybe your 9-month old son took his first steps, maybe when you got home a delicious dinner was waiting for you, and maybe on the bus ride after work where you lost your wallet, you bumped into an old high school friend that you were able to reconnect with.
Bad things happen and sometimes, there is absolutely NOTHING you can do about it, so brush it aside and stop crying over spilt milk.
What you can change though, is how you react to things around you. Positive self-talk can be helpful because goodness and warmth are ALWAYS attractive. By affirming to yourself that you’re a brave, special, and kind person, eventually, YOU will become what you’ve always thought you were meant to be.