How to Practice Positive Self-Talk

We have all heard the cheesy age-old saying that you should go through life looking at the glass half full and focus on your blessings rather than your hardships. Sure, the saying is overly reinforced, but that does not mean that the mindset should not be valued. 

I get it. Sometimes, it’s therapeutic to rant to your roommate about all the things going wrong in your life, and it seems natural to notice the things you don’t like about yourself more than the things you do. Everyone gets in that position some time or another, and it can make you feel a lot better after having all your feelings about something out on the table. However, if you find yourself constantly feeling down and having low self-esteem about things that are out of your control, you may want to look into the art of positive self-talk. 

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I’d first like to make it clear that when I say “positive self-talk,” I do not mean going through life with rose-colored glasses or perceiving yourself as a perfect human who can do no wrong. That’s not healthy for yourself or anyone around you. Positivity looks different for everyone, depending on which aspect of yourself or your life you feel the most negative about. 

For example, say you are insecure about the way your nose looks, as it is slightly on the larger size and does not adhere to society’s beauty ideals of a small and button-shaped nose. A person who is wearing rose-colored glasses, or is blind to any seemingly negative aspects about life, would look at themselves and say “I have a tiny nose.” While this is better than putting yourself down about your nose and calling it ugly, it’s just not the truth, and you will be aware of that. A person practicing positive self-talk, on the other hand, would look at themselves in the mirror each morning and tell themselves, “I like my nose,” until they can begin to believe it. This can be applied to any insecurity or hardship. Choose thought patterns that reflect on forgiveness, confidence, motivation, and self-improvement where it is necessary. A few examples are: 

  • “The way I acted was wrong, but that does not make me a bad person.” 

  • “I am capable/strong/beautiful/kind/etc.”

  • “I am able to get this essay done.”

  • “I will study harder and do better next time.”

I am well aware that this type of positive inner voice does not come naturally in the slightest for many, and for those with mental health struggles such as depression or anxiety, it can be difficult. However, if it is something you want to work towards, the results are worth it. In a study conducted by psychologist Yannis Theodorakis, results found that sports players who practiced positive self-talk performed significantly better in games than did sports players who did not perform positive self-talk, which shows that the way we think really does affect our actions and abilities. Learned helplessness is a huge factor in why we feel incapable and unmotivated to do things that would better ourselves. Think of positive self-talk as unlearning helplessness and building your self-esteem up until you are able to accomplish great things and believe in yourself while doing so. 

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