How to Talk to Yourself

Have you ever listened to the way you talk to yourself? Are you kind? Are you constructive? Would you talk the same way to a friend or someone else you cared about?

Many of us subject ourselves to a near-constant stream of criticism, doubt, worry, or fear. This negative internal monologue is extremely debilitating. In fact, it’s one of the worst and most insidious forms of cultural stress.

We wouldn’t put up with a friend who was constantly criticizing or second-guessing us; somehow, though, many of us tolerate this behavior in ourselves—in part, because, once established, this pattern can be very difficult to break. It’s well worth the effort, however, because positive self-talk generates positive emotions. And positive emotions reduce stress and result in profound effects on overall wellbeing and physical health.

To demonstrate this, I developed 11 positive insight cards that encouraged gratitude, optimism, and resilience without explicitly using any of those terms. The idea was to create statements that would elicit positive feelings in readers, without specifying what those feelings should be; in other words, to let readers generate their own positive response. To cultivate their own internal strength.

We studied 40 healthy participants who reported having Cultural Stress (confirmed by means of a Perceived Stress Scale), established baseline measures of their blood pressure, heartrate, and intracellular water (ICW), and then asked them to read 11 simple, positive affirmations twice a day and journal about their thoughts and feelings over the course of four weeks. The results? Lower heart rates and stress levels! We also saw lower blood pressure and higher levels of skin hydration (a major factor in a youthful complexion and overall wellness). Although these latter results were not statistically significant, they might be if confirmed in a larger study.

Also amazing were the positive changes participants initiated in their lives, as revealed in their journal writings—beginning exercise programs, improving their diet, and making time in their lives for self-care that brought them joy.

What were those affirmations? Nothing earth-shaking; just life-changing! For example:

“Be thrilled with who you are.”

Beware of creating your own stress.”

Why have a bad day when you can have a good day?”

“If it’s no big deal, don’t make a big deal about it.”

“Forgive yourself.”

These simple statements, read twice a day over four weeks, were enough to change subjects’ internal monologue into something positive—and their health and outlook improved, as well.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can download all 11 of those affirmation cards here and prove the difference to yourself.

If you’d like even more insightful sayings, along with inspirational art, consider my book, Creating a Healthy Life, Edition one or Edition two.


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