Most of us have an inner voice – the one that usually shames us when we mess up at work or force ourselves to repeat arguments from 7 years ago in the shower. Although it is very common for us to criticize ourselves (far more than others criticize us), we can also use this inner voice to build ourselves up.
Enter positive soliloquy. Granted, complimenting yourself in your head can be strange – it’s like writing a cover letter (which I hate). But I swear it really works. My therapist and my eating disorders specialist agree that our inner voice can be an effective tool to make us feel better.
PS I promise it̵
Let’s talk about a few ways you can give yourself a little more grace and compassion.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many types of negative self-talk. Here are four examples and some special ways that you can use positive self-talk to combat these intrusive negative thoughts.
It’s okay if you have to work on things (Lord knows I do), but it is difficult to make positive changes in your life if you give in to the negativity. Refreshing every negative thought that comes to your mind may seem like a lot of work, but practicing makes it a lot easier.
- Guided meditations: These can teach you how to use positive self-talk in the early stages when something feels uncomfortable or unnatural. If someone else guides you through the process, this can be a confirmation.
- Sticky Notes: Write something positive about yourself, your life, etc. on a note every day for 30 days and place it in a place where you often look. Mirrors and the fridge are popular sticky notes.
- Write diary: Writing things down can be a more appealing way to practice positive self-talk. The great thing about journaling is that it is a tangible way to get negative feelings aside and then develop new, positive framings on the same side.
- Daily mantra: This works through the power of repetition. Choose a new mantra biweekly or monthly and repeat it every morning or evening or in times of stress or sadness.
- Survey: Use this tactic to interrogate the negative thoughts that appear in your head. Are they true (No, why not? The answer is usually a positive affirmation.
As much as we wish, positive soliloquy doesn’t work overnight. Remember to practice positive self-talk, like marathon training. They teach your brain and its nerve pathways to deal with negative thoughts better and in the long run. The point is that repetition and reinforcement are the keys to becoming competent in anything.
If you play an instrument or practice yoga, you will probably remember the first time you tried. It felt totally unnatural! But over time and while practicing, you could get used to doing yoga or playing an instrument until it felt natural. The same applies to lifting weights, rehearsing for a piece or positive self-talk!
Ideally, positive self-talk becomes second nature as soon as you make it a habit. You will be able to nip harmful thoughts in the bud by naturally engaging in positive self-talk.
Positive soliloquy is important, but may only be part of the solution to addressing some deeper issues. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, talking to a therapist can be the next step. Seeking professional support does not mean that you are unable to handle things yourself. It can only help you identify some underlying conditions that require extra attention.
If you need a bit more structure but can’t necessarily afford professional help, there are other resources you can explore.
If you want to take on more personal responsibility, rely on friends or family. Transparency towards people you trust can be helpful, especially in the phase of positive self-talk reinforcement.
Conclusion: you are not alone. But at times when you are alone, persistent positive self-talk can still be your best source of support.
Reina Sultan (she / she) is a Lebanese-American Muslim woman who works at the age of nine to five on gender and conflict issues. Her work can also be found in Huffington Post, Rewire.News, Wear Your Voice Mag and Rantt. Follow @SultanReina on Twitter for endless hot shots and photos of her extremely cute cats.