How to Change Your Inner Dialogue: Positive Self-Talk
We all have an inner voice that speaks to us constantly. Sometimes it can be our best friend, guiding us through difficult times. Unfortunately, it can also be our worst enemy, tearing us down and making us doubt ourselves with every decision we make.
In the first 25 years of my life, I had never realised I could take control of my inner demons, but learning to change how I speak and think about myself has dramatically impacted my life in recent years. I went from being a total pushover and ‘yes’ person to finally establishing my boundaries and knowing my value.
I have transformed from feeling entirely unworthy to almost… powerful.
The Early Years
I’ve always been somewhat reserved in previous years – the fear of speaking up got me into troublesome relationships and situations I could’ve easily gotten myself out of if I had just said no.
Hell, when I was fifteen, I even got my more confident, bubbly friend to break up with my boyfriend for me because I couldn’t bear the confrontation. The truth is, I never thought I was good enough to have a say. Being quiet seemed like the easiest option. Even though many had taken advantage of my silent flaw, I had learned to come to terms with building a friendship with myself…until I became my own bully.
I’ve always loved the phrase “Don’t talk about my friend like that” whenever I hear my loved ones speak so low of themselves because it’s so true. I wouldn’t say something horrible about my friend, so why do I forget to treat myself like a friend too?
I’ve always tried to picture my ten-year-old self in times of pain and think about how I wouldn’t dare treat her as I have previously treated my adult self. I’d give her a comforting hug and tell her she’s the strongest person I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t punish her for having flaws or not knowing her next steps.
Learning to Work with Mental Health
With negative self-talk comes overthinking. And those with OCD, like me, will know that overthinking sometimes can’t be controlled by a few words of wisdom. In the first lockdown, I compared my body to the classic European beauty standards that no 9-5 working person could ever adhere to. I had suffered from depression and anxiety and hated the body I had grown into now as a woman.
Many of us deal with those stages in life. Some men will fear the day they lose their hair, some women wonder if they will ever have their 18-year-old bodies back, and for many struggling with their identity, they could potentially not know what to fear or feel excited about in the future. It can make positivity feel incredibly difficult when so much changes so quickly.
With furlough and reduced pay looming so heavily over my shoulders and zero support from my job then, I dropped 45 pounds in the first three months. It wasn’t from following a Joe Wicks diet plan or an ab workout from Kayla Itsines. I didn’t eat. And if I did decide to eat a meal, it would be thrown up hours later from stress and guilt of gaining weight.
The people I worked for didn’t once check in with me about how I was doing, and this sent my self-worth spiralling. It didn’t help that one of them was quoted in the office saying I was ‘f*cking lucky’ to have so much free holiday. Little did they know I held no value for myself.
Before this eating disorder hell entered my life, I honestly used to believe being skinny would solve all of my problems of self-doubt and hatred. Yet, at 3 am every night, staring down at the body I had always dreamed of, feeling the reaps of my rewards across my thin thighs, my stomach wasn’t the only empty thing; so was my heart.
My biggest mistake was believing self-love and happiness would come from my appearance. I would only find more issues to uncover that I didn’t like about myself until the punishment felt like a life-long sentence.
As humans, we often seek validation from outside sources, almost as if it must be true if it comes from someone else. I loved when people would refer to me as ‘skinny’, but it soon felt like an insult when staying thin became so miserable. I knew my inner dialogue wasn’t good, and my affirmations of doubt and unworthiness quickly manifested in real life.
Today’s Version of Me
It took two years to learn that nourishing my body with healthy meals and wearing my favourite clothes shouldn’t be a reward or punishment but simply a right. I stopped encouraging the voices and found my own, and she knows that she is more than good enough without the need to please everyone.
There is no quick fix to looking after yourself when self-doubt comes to light, but it’s important to know that it comes in waves, and each individual will have a personal journey to experience. Some of us feel uncomfortable and want to change ourselves, and some live every day knowing they were born in the wrong body.
Are you struggling with your inner voice and ready to make a change? Episode 48 of Women Who Rebrand is for you.
Jessica Jones, a talented author and self-love advocate, shares the motivation behind her incredible book, Own It: How To Build Confidence, Completely Love Yourself and Embrace Your Body. This insightful podcast episode is packed with valuable tips and tools to help you challenge your negative inner dialogue and take steps towards transforming your mindset. Give it a listen, and get ready to enter your self-love era!
Teach Your Inner Voice Positive Self-Talk
You can’t change everything overnight, but there are a few things I did to finally take the steps I needed to get better and change my inner voice:
Recognise Your Inner Dialogue
The first step in changing your inner dialogue is to recognise it. Take note of the thoughts that run through your mind throughout the day. Are they mostly positive or negative? Do you talk to yourself with kindness or criticism? By becoming aware of your inner dialogue, you can start changing it.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Once you’ve recognised your negative self-talk, challenge it. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support the negative thought. If not, replace it with a positive one. For example, if you think, “I’m not good enough,” challenge that thought by asking yourself, “What evidence do I have to support that?” You’ll likely realise that there is no evidence to support that thought and replace it with a positive one, like “I am enough just as I am.” You will always be your own best friend first. Treat yourself with kindness.
Practising gratitude is a powerful tool for changing your inner dialogue. Focusing on what you’re grateful for shifts your attention away from negative thoughts and helps you see the positive in your life. Start by making a list of things you’re grateful for every day. It could be as simple as a warm cup of coffee in the morning or a hug from a loved one.
I used to feel like the world was ending over stupid accidents like leaving my keys in my car. Today, I like to write down at least five positives from each day, and even if it was full of stress and annoyance, I will try my best to find the good.
Affirmations are another powerful tool for changing your inner dialogue. An affirmation is a positive statement that you repeat to yourself daily. It could be something like, “I am worthy of love and respect,” or “I trust myself to make good decisions.” The key is to choose affirmations that resonate with you and to repeat them consistently.
I personally enjoy saying my affirmations in the mirror or listening to voiceovers on Youtube. It’s nice to remind yourself that you deserve good things. You deserve to feel like you’re an amazing person, regardless of your initial thoughts.
Surround Yourself With Positive People
The people you surround yourself with can significantly impact your inner dialogue. We have all experienced energy vampires, and many of us have been one ourselves in the bad times. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who lift you and make you feel good about yourself. Avoid people who bring you down or make you feel bad about yourself. Those sly back-handed compliments don’t count.
Be Kind to Yourself
Finally, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would offer to a loved one. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and forgive yourself for your mistakes. Do things you love, and remember, changing your inner dialogue takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and keep working towards a more positive, uplifting inner voice.
Welcome to the most powerful era of your life, where mental health and well-being stand strong, and you can wake up in the morning feeling genuine peace. By recognising your negative self-talk, challenging it, and putting everything above into practice, you can transform your inner voice into your best friend, supporting and guiding you towards anything and everything you want in life.
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