The Importance of Positive, Compassionate Self-Talk

Negative Self-Talk

In a recent Harvard Business Review Article, author Alice Boyes states that we often talk to ourselves more harshly than we would ever find acceptable to speak to someone else. We demand perfection from ourselves and raise our standards even higher in response to any feelings of doubt, anxiety or frustration. We often assume criticism will be motivating, when in fact, it has the opposite result.

Wellness coach and author of “8 Keys to Stress Management,” Elizabeth Scott, MS, explains that negative self-talk can have some serious and damaging impacts. It causes stress, leads to an increased risk of depression, anxiety and feelings of helplessness, decreases motivation, and can even cause physical symptoms such as chronic headaches. Positive and compassionate self-talk, on the other hand, has been proven to help people recover better from setbacks, increase productivity levels, and become more adaptive and empathetic.

Being Positive and Compassionate with Yourself

As outlined by Boyes, positive and compassionate self-talk has four main components; 1.) using a tone of kindness, 2.) recognizing that pain is a universal human experience, 3.) taking a balanced approach to negative emotions that neither suppresses or exaggerates them, and 4.) expecting yourself to make the best decision you can in the situation you’re in. To help you begin being more positive and compassionate with yourself, check out these tips from Very Well Mind and Harvard Business Review!

  • Examine Yourself: Dig deep and really try to understand your inner critic. What are your expectations and goals? What causes your negative thoughts and reactions? What are your typical self-sabotaging patterns? Recognizing these traits can help you gently address them and set yourself up for better decision making and success.
  • Pay Attention to How Others Treat You: Take a moment to think about what your significant other, best friend or parent says that soothes and calms you. Keep their kind words in your mind for when you need positive self-talk. Hearing their voice can help you let go of perfectionism, focus on your emotions and make the best decision.
  • Think about How You Treat Others: When you catch yourself using negative self-talk, imagine a friend or family member is going through what you are currently experiencing. What would you say to them? Your natural response would most likely be to comfort them with kind words and support. Consciously switch your mindset and offer that same love and support to yourself.
  • Plan Ahead: Take some time to plan ahead and think about situations you may encounter that cause you to use negative self-talk. Rehearse those situations in your head and practice using positivity and compassion. The more you practice, the more natural it will become.
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