Our thoughts determine our actions – if we are in the habit of positive self-talk and positive thinking, we find that we can do things and marvel at our successes. However, all too often our internal chatter is very negative; we can’t, we are stupid, people will laugh at me. Here are some tips on turning off the negative – and switching on the positive with yourself – and your children.
Negative self-talk: I can´t, I can’t, I can´t
I have lost count of the number of mums (and especially mums) who talk negatively about themselves, but it breaks their heart to hear their child do the same. They want their child to be happy, self-confident, resilient, powerful and to be able to believe in themselves. They want this for their child more than anything they ever want for themselves. Yet increasingly, children and teens are suffering from low self-esteem. Social media and peer pressure undoubtedly have a significant role to play in this, however, so does our self talk, which is usually overwhelmingly negative. It´s time to turn this self talk into POSITIVE SELF-TALK.
1. we are treated by others how we treat ourselves
We all chatter to ourselves in our heads – hurry up you´ll be late, oh I´ve forgotten to do…., oh my hair looks terrible today, I´m stuck but don´t want to ask for help, why haven´t I been invited to the party etc. It´s all very negative and this directly impacts both how we feel about ourselves and our behaviour.
All too soon, we are mentally imprisoning ourselves – we believe that we can no longer take risks, be successful, learn more, achieve more than others say we can. We believe that we can´t and so we stop trying. It is safer not to try than to risk failing. We talk about ourselves and to ourselves in a negative way. Because we do this, it is the equivalent of a green light for everyone around us to talk about us in the same way. Before we know it, others are agreeing with our negative self beliefs. They TREAT us according to our self beliefs – and our world is suddenly very small and devoid of any real internal positive self-talk at all. When those around us put us down, we believe that is what we are worth – and we can become even smaller and wide open to persistent bullying from those around us. Breaking out of our comfort zone isn´t EVER going to happen – we have become too afraid to even try.
2. Being aware
The first step is to be aware of the internal voice in our head. It DOES NOT mean you are mentally unwell – it is COMPLETELY normal to talk to yourself in your head. We all have some kind of internal chatter. And what is GREAT is that we can control exactly what is says.
Start to be aware yourself of your own thoughts and you may be surprised by how negative they are. This is the first step – once you are consciously aware, then you can start to control it. Talk openly with your child about the kinds of internal dialogue they have and the feels this inspires
Often we aren´t really “talking to ourselves” when we are happy – because we are too busy being happy and having fun. The internal voice only comes to say negative things – isn´t that interesting. We have to TRAIN it to be positive.
3. Mantra or Affirmations
It was said that Barack Obama had a morning mental mantra to prepare himself for the day ahead. Athletes “psych” themselves up – they tell themselves they can – they believe that they can – and so they perform at their highest possible level. We´ve all seen it happen – when they lose that inner mental belief, they seem to crumble and they suffer terrible defeats. It´s about WHAT we are saying to ourselves that matters.
So, it´s time to get a mantra
- I´m gorgeous and amazing
- Yes I can
- It´s all good – I have got this
ANYTHING that is positive that you can say to yourself, in your head, or aloud in the car etc that makes you feel good. Use it, say it, repeat it over and over again. Everyday. Positive self-talk isn´t going to happen overnight. It has to be learned. It is a muscle that needs constant use so it can get bigger and stronger and become very powerful. When those negative thoughts creep in – and they will – blast it with a fabulous dose of positivity.
4. What went well today?
This is one of my personal favourites. It´s all too easy to focus on the negative – but everyday focus on what went right. This is one of my most powerful tools that I teach children.
What went well today?
- I slept well
- I was up on time, had breakfast and was organized for work
- I talked to friends
- I had someone to play with at playtime
- I had a yummy lunch
- The sun is shining
- I played with the cat
Anything and everything that is positive that has gone well – name it, list it, acknowledge it – enjoy it. Again it is a muscle and is a fun game to play as a family in the car, when you´re in the kitchen having dinner together. See how many positive things you can score as a family – and keep trying to beat that total!
5. what makes me happy
Being aware of the things that make you happy is also a key tool for positive self-talk. Reciting and building upon this list can beat the blues and chase away those negative self-talk messages. Doing this with your children and getting into the habit of doing it daily will rapidly improve self-talk if you are genuinely making the effort to build that positive self-talk muscle. It´s important not to just rattle off things – but to believe that these things do make you happy and that you feel happy when you think of them.
being genuinely happy
It is normal for those self-doubts and fears or worries to creep in. What is important is how we immediately tackle them. Using the strategies above, like a positive affirmation, or blocking it out, or any strategy that turns the negative into a positive will make an immediate difference to how we feel.
Using positive self talk enables us to become happier, positive and more resilient people. We see the joy in every day things, we recognize when things are going well and we start to achieve more.
What´s your favorite positive strategy to promote positive self-talk – and how often do you use it? Leave a comment below.