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Self-talk is known by many names: thought processes, inner monologue, internal reasoning, etc. Self-talk is simply our inner voice. It is the voice that has the power to either motivate or demotivate. It is our thoughts that tell us to give in to, or walk away from, our vice. It can lift us up or tear us down. Self-talk is incredibly powerful and it acts as a filter through which we see the world and ourselves.
Negative self-talk is critical and judgmental of everything we do. It only sees problems, never solutions. It is destructive to self-esteem, relationships, and attitude. It focuses on the reasons why we will never reach our goals. It is the force that shoots down every helpful suggestion and resource with the idea that “it’ll never work for me”. Negative self-talk emphasizes what we can’t do, what we should be doing (though we’re not), and what we’re no good at. Negative self-talk highlights and magnifies every anxiety and worry we’ve ever had.
Positive self-talk, however, is solution-focused. It is not blind to problems, but instead of dwelling on them, seeks out silver linings and learning opportunities. Positive self-talk looks for our strengths instead of our limits. It sees our potential rather than failure. I have wrote several articles in the past highlighting the benefits of positive self-talk and methods to work towards developing a healthy, positive inner monologue.
For more information on this topic, read:
Something I have yet to address when it comes to positive self-talk is the issue of responsibility. Positive self-talk will always be just out of reach if we are unable to take responsibility for ourselves, our lives, and our thoughts. The initial reaction most people have is to blame someone or something for how we think and where we end up. But if we are not responsible for our own thoughts, who is? There are 5 warning signs that you are stuck in a negative self-talk cycle through irresponsibility:
I’m going to hazard a guess that no one’s parents were perfect. They all made mistakes, some admittedly bigger than others. But as adults we no longer are powerless to affect our circumstances or environment. Yes, sadly many had to endure the pain of abuse or neglect as children, but we are no longer children. We can take our power back from our upbringing by taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions in the present. Blaming our parents hurts us more than it hurts them.
We have all been hurt in the past. We have had our hearts broken, we have been betrayed by people we love, and we have experienced loss. We can learn a lot from these pains, but dwelling on them keeps us from moving forward. We cannot take responsibility for our thoughts and actions if we are constantly caught up in the past. Positive self-talk consists of thought processes that move us forward, not backwards.
There is always an element of personal responsibility in every conflict or stress we have. The key to resolving the conflict is owning up to the role we played in creating it. If we deny that we were responsible for any part of it, we are denying our ability to find a solution for it.
Part of taking responsibility for ourselves is accepting the fact that we are all flawed and have room to develop. However, when we refuse to accept responsibility for our behaviour, we also have difficulty accepting that we have the power to grow. Instead of evaluating these criticisms and working to improve, an irresponsible person may react with denial or they may perceive that they are being attacked.
Denying or hiding mistakes occur when a person is more concerned with how they are perceived by others than their own personal growth. Attempting to maintain perfection is incredibly exhausting, so much so that no time or mental energy can go to positive self-talk or personal responsibility. Sadly, all mental bandwidth is completely devoted to projecting a facade.
In order to practice positive self-talk, grow, and personally develop, it is absolutely necessary to first accept responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Without this crucial first step, we cannot hope to gain all the wonderful benefits associated with positive self-talk.