Self-Talk Reprogramming

Self-talk occurs when we engage in an inner dialogue with ourselves. It is what we say to ourselves about ourselves or the world.  It is extremely important to have constructive self-talk to improve your self-esteem, confidence, and mood. I want to talk about a few approaches that could help you reprogram your self-talk. Yes, in case you are wondering, our self-talk can be reprogrammed thanks to neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of our neurons to adjust as they adapt to changes in their environment.  

Although we might not realize it, the truth is, that we have been engaging in self-talk from an incredibly young age.  Our experiences, from positive or negative interactions and feedback with the world around us, has been influencing our self-talk from childhood.  The encouragement we received as children, failures we experienced as adolescents, and losses we had to deal with as adults, all of them, make their way through our brain and unconsciously programs our self-view and the view of the world we live in.  This concept is crucial to understand because Self-Talk can set us in a path of well-being, or in a path to self-destruction.  

As a result of negative self-talk, many of us feel unworthy, or lack confidence, and we fail to experience all the beauty this life has to offer.  But there is hope.  We can reprogram our positive self-talk to undo or reverse years of negative, destructive programming.  It all depends on how we start using this knowledge going forward.  Positive self-talk could lead to improved self-esteem because we say things to ourselves that enhance our ability to believe in ourselves. Those who are aware of how self-talk affects their lives are more likely to use it to their advantage and have high self-esteem, self-confidence, and improved mood.

Here are a few ideas to reprogram our self-talk and create positive changes:

First, we must learn to recognize our thoughts or inner dialogue patterns.  

_Take some time during your day to write down some of your thoughts as they come.

_At the end of the day, count how many negative and positive thoughts you had.

_Also, pay attention to your feelings whenever you catch yourself doing some self-talk.

For example: Ask yourself some of these questions and write down your answers.

Do I feel bugged down, scared, or do I feel motivated, or happy?

From your answers, determine whether you tend to be pessimistic? If so, you probably engage in more negative thinking.

There are different ways and patterns of negative thinking or negative self-talk. To help you identify and detect negative self-talk, here is quick guide.

The following are a few common forms of negative self-talk.

  1. Personalizing:  when you blame yourself for everything that has gone wrong
  2. Overgeneralizing:  you may take an instance of failure or undesired outcome and generalize it. For example, if someone rejected you on one occasion, you may now tell yourself that you are a total failure and not liked by anyone.
  3. negative filter: this is when you only pay attention to the information that is negative and discount any positive ones. For example, if you received several positive compliments for you work, but one of them was negative, then you choose to think about the negative one only. This type of filtering can lead to pessimistic self-talk.
  4. Catastrophizing: when you always expect the worse without regard for alternate explanations.
  5. Polarizing: usually known as All-or-Nothing thinking or Black-and-White thinking,which is expressed in our inability to categorize things within a continuum. For example, we might see things as good or bad, there is not in between.

Once you become aware of your inner dialogue patterns, you must adopt a positive thought pattern to reprogram your self-talk:

Once you are aware of your negative self-talk tendencies, it is easier to rewire to a more positive self-talk. However, this might be quite challenging for some and it might be necessary to get help from a professional.  Remember, we are all experiencing unique circumstances and in some severe cases, it may be extremely hard to break this negative cycle.

Let us look at one example on how we can switch our negative self-talk into a positive one:

          Negative Self Talk: I have never tried this before, with my luck, I will probably disappoint everyone and do a horrible job. (example of catastrophizing as I expect the worse is going to happen)

          Switched Positive Thinking: This is an opportunity to try something different. If I don’t do a good job, I will learn, grow, and get something new out of it. It is a win win situation for me.

In adopting positive self-talk, we need to learn to challenge our negative thoughts and look for proof that support positive ones. Engage in the practice of gratitude. Notice the little things that make you whole and be grateful for the simple things that we take for granted most of the time. Be around positive people. Learn from positive people, it can give you a fresh different perspective on life.

Practice positive affirmations. Write down positive, encouraging things about yourself and place them in visible places around your home or office. Stand in front of the mirror and appreciate that reflection on the mirror. Believe in yourself!

Rewiring your brain to increase positive self-talk involves consistency and a commitment to loving yourself. You will begin to see a much different perspective in everything revolving around you. This new perspective will help you get to your destination and will help you in achieving your goals. 

 Start reprogramming your negative self-talk today!

This article is meant to be educational; it is not a substitute for professional help. If you find that you need additional help on successfully engaging in positive self-talk, you can call me at 888-876-9784 or visit www.thought-wise.org to make an appointment.

Dr. Penate