Research shows that approximately 60000 thoughts flow daily through our minds; about 55000 of them are recurrent, and about 45000 are negative. Thoughts naturally flow through our minds, and we pay very little attention to them, unaware of how strongly these thoughts influence the perception of our reality, ourselves and our environment.
If positive inner talk supports us during a challenging day, nasty self-talk is definitely disheartening, even in the best situation.
Knowing that our inner dialogue is crucial to how we feel, common sense would suggest embracing positive emotions. Instead, we get used to the relentless negative inner voice and think there is nothing we can do about it. Few are aware that intentionally improving your inner dialogue helps rewire our brains to be more positive.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh
Embracing Positive Self-Talk: A Journey
Central to this self-reflective journey is recognising how our inner dialogue profoundly influences our emotional landscape. Each time we talk to ourselves, we are presented with the unique opportunity to consciously direct our inner voice towards emotions ranging from indifference and criticism to reassurance and kindness.
Committing to a more positive self-talk becomes fundamental to promoting a positive sense of self and self-compassion.
While it may seem intuitive to move towards positive emotions, the reality is that, without deliberate commitment, the default often leans towards self-criticism. Thus, the practice of paying careful attention to our self-talk becomes a transformative tool for influencing our emotional well-being. We must intentionally lead our inner dialogue towards a more compassionate and encouraging tone by detecting any arising tendency of harshness or criticism.
Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves
that we would give to others.
Transformative Reflections: Self-Compassion
Self-compassion refrains from judgments; even the best intention can land wrong. Self-compassion does not mean avoiding taking responsibility for our mistakes by justifying them but rather approaching them differently. We can acknowledge that:
Expectations do not always align with the outcome
Future actions need to be re-evaluated
Imperfection is part of life
What we thought was best did or did not work
We may or may not be able to improve the situation
We learn and can do better
Consistently incorporating compassionate self-talk into our daily routines leads to several benefits.
Stronger self-soothe capacity
Increased competence to act compassionately
Improved ability to face distress
Decrease in impulsiveness
Improved ability to deal with physical and emotional pain
Good words are worth much, and cost little.
Mirror Affirmations: Empowering Self-Talk
Have you ever noticed the difference between talking to someone while looking them in the eyes and saying the same sentence without directly looking at them? The gap between the two emotional responses is noticeable. Repeating affirmations while maintaining eye contact with our reflection proves more effective than their simple vocalisation. The brain naturally responds to eye gazing, and, except for the outcome, there is no magic behind positive affirmations intentionally recited when facing the mirror.
By simply using an innate feature, mirror positive self-talk becomes a powerful tool, nurturing self-acceptance, resilience and heightened self-awareness. This practice enhances the effects of positive self-talk, which prompts us to engage with ourselves empathetically, reducing the default self-critical dialogue. For those who feel uncomfortable offering kindness to themselves, the initial experience can feel weird, particularly while looking in a mirror. Do yourself a favour, and don't give up.
Mirror Positive Self-Talk Exercise
This exercise serves as a stimulus for rewiring our internal dialogue, reframing our thinking patterns, and transforming it into a more positive and compassionate narrative.
Write four soothing sentences that resonate with you. Below are some examples
It is tough at the moment, but I will manage this.
This is draining; I trust and love you.
I'm here for you, and I will be here forever.
I love and approve of you the way you are.
I forgive myself for.....
You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.
The practice of mirror-compassionate self-talk emerges as a profound journey into self-acceptance and personal growth. Incorporating mindfulness practices and positive self-talk into one's self-compassion routine further deepens the impact. Individuals experience fulfilment in their journey and improve their relationship with themselves and others.
Complementary to these techniques are tools developed by psychologists, such as Kristin Neff's self-compassion scale, offering individuals the means to measure and enhance their self-compassion levels. Additionally, resources available on self-compassion.org, by Kristin Neff, present a repertoire of exercises to nurture self-compassion.
When unpleasant feelings rule your day for too long, it’s time to reach out to someone you trust. You don't have to face everything alone. Contact a helpline, a support group, or a professional. Your GP or a counsellor can make a difference in your wellbeing.
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