by Andrea Hayes, Broadcaster, Bestselling author and Wellness Speaker
Why what you say to yourself is important !
The Science of Self-Talk
The power of our thoughts was the subject of debate and discussion even in biblical times. This is highlighted in a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs, 23:7
– ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’
This is perhaps the most basic statement of how I believe our minds work: our minds will believe everything we tell them, so make a conscious effort to feed your mind positive ideas of love and joy and visions of abundance.
I couldn’t believe how much negative self-talk I was using around my health and my lifestyle, and it was going on all day on a subconscious level. To my surprise, my negative self-talk accounted for as much as 80 per cent of my daily chitchat to myself. Stopping this, focusing on the positive through affirmations and controlling my negative energy has had a huge effect on my psyche and my health.
Try to be aware that you may be repeating negative thoughts that become ‘affirmations’ without thinking. For example, I believed and often unconsciously repeated the affirmations, both in my mind and when speaking to people, that ‘I am losing power in my arm’ or ‘I am just not able’. I said these so often that, unknowingly, I was making my brain believe they were true.
I challenge you to pay attention to your self-talk for the next day and see what your self-talk is telling you. What percentage of it is positive, do you think? What percentage of it is negative?
Think about what you are thinking right now. What do those thoughts say about you? About your life? And how well do they really match your plans for your life and how you imagine yourself in the future?
Our inner dialogue tells a story: we can decide right now if that will be positive or negative. There are a few ways you can develop better selftalk, the first step, is to acknowledge your internal conversations.
So simply start by actively listening to what you’re saying to yourself each day, notice if it is positive or negative and become aware if it is having an impact on how you feel, physically and mentally.
Positive self-talk is the stuff that makes you feel good about yourself and the things that are going on in your life. It is like having an optimistic voice in your head that looks on the bright side, gives you compliments and truly believes in you!
Negative self-talk is the stuff that makes you feel pretty bad about yourself and the things that are going on in your life. This is like having a constant negative voice judging you, telling you that you’re not good enough and making you feel miserable.
Being positive all the time isn’t achievable – and probably isn’t helpful – but self-talk is more than a confidence booster. From a neuroscientific perspective, it is a form of internal remodelling.
What Is Your Self Talk Right Now ?
How can you make your self-talk work for you?
We don’t always consciously take note of what we’re saying to ourselves, but there are a few things you can do to help change the direction of your self-talk.
Ask yourself now, ‘What limiting beliefs are holding me back?’
Answering that question is key to breaking through to the life you really want. A great test is to make a ‘can’t’ list: a list of what you ‘know’ you can’t do and why.
Try This Exercise
Complete the following sentence for everything that comes to mind:
I can’t_____________ because _____________
Pay attention to what comes after the word ‘because’. That’s your own inner voice telling you that there is a reason this is impossible. That inner voice is what keeps you from being open to possibility.
Some Tips For Positive Self-Talk
• Make a conscious effort to think positive. Statements like ‘I know I can do it’, ‘I am filled with positive energy right now’ or ‘I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to’ can help your brain pick up the positive cues.
• Start to question your self-talk. Ask things like: ‘What would I say if a friend were in a similar situation?’ ‘Is there a more positive way of looking at this?’ ‘Can I do anything to change what I’m feeling bad about?’
• Change your self-talk. Consciously change the negative self-talk into positive self-talk. When you notice negative self-talk, say to yourself, ‘No. Stop.’ Then replace the negative thought with a positive one. For example, if you think, ‘I’ll never be able to do this,’ ask yourself, ‘Is there anything I can do that will help me be able to do this?’ Believe in yourself and trust that everything is working out for your good.
• Use balanced thinking. It can be a tough battle at the beginning, but when you make it a habit to listen to that inner voice, you can change your life in miraculous ways. Remember, your subconscious mind will always believe everything you tell it.
• Motivational self-talk means using encouraging phrases like: ‘Come on!’ ‘Let’s go!’ ‘You can do this!’ ‘You will do your walk today.’ Use it to help you achieve what you want.
• Instructional self-talk is helpful when practising a task like journaling. You instruct yourself until it becomes automatic. For example, you might tell yourself that you will aim to write one page before lunchtime, or that you know and believe that the daily affirmations will be of benefit if you stick with them. Remind yourself to listen to one of the hypnosis downloads on my website. Doing all of these things is reprogramming your mind to think positively.
• After several weeks you will eventually form the blueprint for changing how you relate to yourself long-term and this powerful act of reframing your selftalk will change your life.
Dare of the Day
Set aside five minutes to write out all the positive things about yourself: what you can do really well, everything you like about yourself physically, mentally and even spiritually – think about all your skills and achievements as far back as childhood.
Allow yourself to write non-stop for the full five minutes – do not think about spelling or censoring what you jot down: just keep your pen writing and don’t lift it from the page until the five minutes are up – set an alarm if you need to.
Dare of the Week
Feed your mind. Trust that you are starting to consciously form new neural pathways with your positive thoughts. If you find it hard to say positive things to yourself, this week write down some examples and get into the habit of saying them.
I CAN ACHIEVE MY GOALS THIS WEEK OF:
I BELIEVE IN MYSELF AND I KNOW I CAN:
I AM FEELING FANTASTIC AND I AM CAPABLE OF GREAT THINGS LIKE:
Replace your inner self-critical voice with self-love and acceptance. The more you work on improving your self-talk the better you will get. It is like starting anything new: it won’t be easy at first, but it will get better with time.
Extract from “My Life Goals Journal – Gill Books. gillbooks.ie/my-life-goals-journal
Note to self
– You are unique and brilliant
Note to self
– Learn from your past and don’t let it define your future
Note to self
– I am enough
Note to self
– I am in the process of positive change in my life
About the author
Andrea Hayes is an Irish broadcaster and producer whose work includes TV3’s hugely successful series Animal A&E, Dublin Airport: Life Stories and Coming Home for Christmas. She recently wrote and produced a new TV series, Dog Tales with Andrea Hayes and published a book of the same name. She is also a familiar voice on Dublin’s Sunshine 106.8fm
Andrea’s bestselling book, Pain-Free Life: My Journey to Wellness, chronicles how journaling helped her to overcome her health challenges, this was followed by the best selling book ‘My Life Goals Journal’ where she shares her practical plan to create change, achieve your goals and live your best life.
Andrea is a trained clinical hypnotherapist, Bethany Grief Minister and Spiritual Director with Anamcharadas. She lives with her husband David and daughters, Brooke and Skylar in Dublin.