How Self-Talk Affects Stress
Most people carry on a silent conversation with themselves during much of the day. These internal dialogues can actually direct your thoughts and behaviors. Understanding what self-talk is and how it affects you is the first step in learning how to rewrite your self-talk â€œscriptâ€ and talk your way to a less stressful way of life.
Positive Or Negative ?
Self-talk is like a self-fulfilling prophecy- something you think about so much you actually make it come true. When your self-talk is positive-â€œEverything will work out;â€ â€œI know I can do the job;â€—you are giving yourself permission to succeed, and chances are, you will. When your self-talk is negative—â€œI know Iâ€™ll have a lousy time;â€ â€œIâ€™m not smart enough to be supervisor;â€—youâ€™re giving up on yourself and chances are you wonâ€™t even try to succeed. Often your self-talk reflects the values and behaviors you learned as a child, and the self-esteem you now have as an adult.
Thoughts And Behaviors
Self-talk can direct your thoughts and behaviors. If you think, â€œI know I can do the job,â€ youâ€™ll be more willing to apply and have a better chance at success. If you say to yourself, â€œIâ€™ll never get hired for that position,â€ you probably wonâ€™t even apply, guaranteeing that you wonâ€™t get the job.
Negative self-talk can cause or increase your distress, and can make effects such as headaches or stomach pain worse. Self-talk can also encourage you to behave in destructive ways which further stress your body. (No one cares, so why shouldnâ€™t I have another drink?) Fortunately, positive self-talk can have the opposite effect, leading to lower stress levels.
How To Rewrite Your Script
Learn to listen to your own self-talk. Draw three columns on a sheet of paper. In the first column, write several things you would like to happen. â€œIâ€™d like a new car.â€ â€œIâ€™d like to loose 10 pounds.â€ Then close your eyes and listen to how you respond to each item. Write your self-talk in the second column: (Example: â€œWe canâ€™t afford it.â€ â€œI can do it, Iâ€™ve done it before.â€) In the third column, write down a thought which is the opposite of the one in column two. Look over your list. If column two is more positive than column three, youâ€™re already on your way to thinking positively. If column two is more negative, look at column three for a more helpful, healthier response. Practice choosing positive self-talk. Youâ€™ll feel happier, more confident, and less stressed.