See this tool in action
Overview: Positive Self Talk
The power of our inner critic, suggests that if we continue to feed ourselves with negative thoughts we will feel pretty rubbish about ourselves. Imagine how friends and family would feel if we constantly told them they’re not good enough or they need to do better or they have done something wrong. Positive self-talk – which basically means turning the inner critic into a positive, encouraging voice – is a powerful Mental Fitness strategy. It’s used across many fields, especially in sport, to ensure a positive frame of mind during training and big game days. So be mindful that the words and thoughts we use with ourselves will affect our level of performance, general wellbeing and self-confidence.
By simply starting to be aware of our inner critic and changing the way we talk to ourselves, we can start to turn that inner critic into our own internal encouraging coach. And by using encouragement and support with ourselves, we stimulate that soothing system which helps to calm down our threat system which means we feel less stressed and anxious about taking on a task. Studies have shown that positive and instructional self-talk in endurance settings enhances physical endurance and can help us perform better. Below are a few really simple exercises that you can use to help bolster your positive self-talk.
Get yourself a small notebook or diary or use your phone and note down if you have a critical voice and the sorts of things you might say to yourself in one day and how many times. Log this over a day if that helps.
Look at the list of critical things you say to yourself. Do you think your critic is quite harsh? Do you think that saying these things to yourself would leave you feeling positive or encourage you?
To help over-ride some of these critical statements, at the end of each day write down 3 positive things that happened with the day and what part you played in these things happening
Take some time out to think about a goal or goals that you want to achieve be that behaviours you would like to improve or change, or specific goals at work or in your personal life
Consider if you are encouraging towards yourself about reaching this goal or, when you think about it, do you use statements like “that’s too hard”, “there’s no way I will do that”, “I’m no good at that really – I’m going to find this hard”. If so, ask yourself if you think this is helping you reach your goal. Do you think if you talked to your work colleagues, friends or family members this way, it would encourage them to reach their goals? Challenge these negative statements. Ask yourself if there’s evidence that you’ve been able to reach some of your goals in the past.
Think about shutting down your inner critic. It does you no good, in fact it only serves to make you feel bad and hinders you being the best you can be.
Create relevant and positive statements about yourself which are encouraging and motivating, for example “I’ve been able to achieve goals in the past so I am more than capable of doing what it takes”. Make sure that the statements are credible and achievable.
- Write these statements down. It’s important that you write them down and don’t just keep them in your head. Make sure you write them in the present tense, for instance “I am capable of giving this presentation as I am professional and skilled at what I do.”
- Ideally these statements should be positive things you want to happen. So, they should be connected to positive feelings. Include this into the statement such as ‘I’m excited about giving this presentation as I can show off my skills and what I know”.