OPED: The importance of positive self-talk

RBC | Life can be full of moments that leave you wondering why you made the choices you made.

We are experts in second-guessing decisions and finding ourselves in a cycle of what-ifs.  Each day is chock-full of decisions. Some are seemingly insignificant, like what color shirt should I wear or what goes better with pork roast? Others bear more weight, such as what’s the best town to move to or who would make the best life partner? Even the most thought-out decisions can have outcomes that leave us with negative feelings about ourselves that lead to negative internal dialogues that then lead to negative beliefs about our capabilities to navigate even the smallest scenarios.

I remember this cycle all too well.

When I recall my life, I see what seems like an endless barrage of insults directed towards myself that kept me steeped in the narrative that I was a failure and not worthwhile. I truly believed even the smallest of mistakes, true or perceived, was evidence of my inability to do anything right. Each “failure” came with a self-lecture that kept me immersed in depression. Recalling times losing my temper thinking I was a terrible parent, or when I made poor relationship choices, the story I told myself then was that I didn’t deserve any better.

I finally learned I could change this, and it was so empowering! These are the keys that I used to change that paradigm:

1.  Recognize negative self-talk early.

It was easy to offer encouraging words to those I cared about and save the hurtful words for myself. Why were they accepted without question? Moreover, why did I offer them without hesitation? We are not any less important than those we offer caring words to. Let this truth in. You may have heard negativity from others throughout your life and adopted it as truth. Other’s opinions don’t make things true.

2. Use statements of fact versus emotion.

It is more helpful to say something like “That was a tough one and I got through it, I feel that I did my best under the circumstances”

3. Know your strengths. 

We all have them even when they are not easy to recognize. Name two or three that you can see in yourself now.

4. Talk with someone you trust.

When you are seeing something one way, the insights of another can help you put things into perspective.

It’s all right if things don’t always end up the way you’d hoped or planned. Life happens. Not all choices made are the best ones, and not all are mistakes.  How we relate to ourselves impacts how we relate to our circumstances and vice versa. Mistakes are part of being human, they can be tools that move us forward or weapons used to keep ourselves feeling less than we really are.

Season your self-talk with grace and pepper your day with patience, you are more than worth it!

By JILL DAVIS | Peer Services Coordinator

Jill Davis is Peer Services Coordinator for Mind Springs Health and uses her experience with a mental health diagnosis to help others.  She is based out of Grand Junction, Colorado, and can be reached at JDavis@MindSpringsHealth.org or 970-639-3702