The conversation we have with ourselves has a huge impact on our mental health.
Self-talk describes the inner conversations we have with ourselves. Every single person has an inner commentary that we may or may not be aware of. You might have heard It described as your “inner-critic”. Why is this important? Self-talk is so much a part of our lives.
It is powerful as it affects the way that we feel, what we do, and what we tell ourselves, which may not always be good. This is why it is important to pay attention to what we tell ourselves. For example, negative self-talk might include thoughts like “I am not good enough”, which you tell yourself when things go wrong, even though this is not true.
When we were abused or traumatised in childhood, we have often grown up believing that we are bad. And worthless. And can replay those negative messages over and over in our head, only reinforcing these negative beliefs.
Self-talk affects our mental health - It can make us feel bad, even make us have suicidal thoughts or think about self-harm. The good news is that we can change that.
Positive self-talk can lift our mood. It can be supportive, help us manage stress, feel less depressed and anxious, and build self-confidence and self-esteem. If we can start to think more positively about ourselves, we can start to feel better.
Ask yourself these questions- write down the answers if you need to.
What is it telling you?
Is it true?
They are only thoughts. Do they matter?
Can I change them?
How can I replace these thoughts with better thoughts?
What thoughts honour me? My strengths?
Is there another perspective? There is a concept called double story listening. Generally we tend to listen to the dominant story, the one you are familiar with and that you learnt in childhood .This story often focuses on your weaknesses and areas of shame – see if you can notice what you are thinking about yourself.
There is another story mixed in this– one of courage, strength, determination, vulnerability. Start to pay more attention to this story of resilience. Notice the times you stand up for yourself, when you are courageous enough to speak your mind, when you ask for help and accept care, when you feel more connected to who you are. Slowly over time this other story of yourself becomes clearer and stronger.