Positive self-talk. What exactly is positive self-talk?
I’ve read people who insist it is a “Name it-Claim it” activity. If I say “I am a brilliant scientist” often enough, I will become a brilliant scientist. Even if I have no interest in biology or physics or genetics. I’ve never been able to believe that just saying something made it true. That seems like wishful thinking or trying to brainwash myself. Not true positive self-help. /span>
I do agree, though, that we can choose where to focus our attention. I can choose to notice the good and the positive or I can choose to notice the bad and the negative. Like my father. I’ll say “This sunshine is nice and warm today, isn’t it?” and he’ll say, “My plants aren’t getting the rain they need.” The ensuing conversation becomes depressing, focused on the harm that comes from lack of rain. Until the very next rainy day, when he’ll be complaining about floods and mold and no sunshine. 🙂
I think true, helpful positive self-talk is somewhere in the middle. It is not brainwashing or wishful thinking. It is not denying any of the negatives actually present in my life. It’s not trying to force myself to believe something untrue. (I”ve had enough of that.) It is focusing on the positives. It is spending time noticing the happy parts in my life. It is commenting on and developing those aspects until they overshadow and maybe even cancel out the negatives.
The struggle, at least for me, comes in finding those positives and learning how to focus on them. I’m basically an optimistic person, but I’ve had some pretty depressing seasons in my life lately. I’ve dealt with deaths of loved ones, quarrels and family disagreements, difficult financial times and more. I can’t just ignore the negative impact these things have on my life.
When I took Margie Lawson’s online course, Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors, I learned some very practical ways to practice positive self-talk. Margie taught us to list at least five positives each night before going to bed. Five good things to think about, five things to be grateful for. By reviewing my day and finding at least five things that are positives, no matter how small, I change my focus from negative to positive. If I also do this in the morning, before getting out of bed, my day begins on an upbeat note. This is not ignoring any of the negatives or difficulties. It is spending some crucial time, at the end and the beginning of each day, focusing on what is good and positive in order to find hope and motivation.
Another activity that helped to generate positive self-talk in my life was Margie’s list of personality traits. She gave us a list with probably a hundred adjectives, such as energetic, happy, sensitive, frugal, kind, etc. We had to choose those that described us. That was such a balm to my spirit . As I read through all these positive personality traits, I saw many that described me. Yes, I had struggles. Yes, I sometimes made choices that went contrary to what I really wanted or was best. Yes, I sometimes chose not to exhibit those positive qualities, but they were a part of my regular, routine day. Most days.
I’ve rediscovered that list. I’m printing out those traits that describe me. I’m posting it where I can see it every day. Seeing this brings the better part of my life into focus and drives away the unwanted negatives. Seeing them written, acknowledging they do in fact describe me, shines light into what had been a dark pit of failure. By doing that, I change that failure into success, that despair into hope and that discouragement into motivation.
Are you letting discouragement and negative self-talk drain away your passion and motivation? Focus on what is good in your life. Remind yourself of what you are doing right. Change that negative talk into positive.