The Power of Self-Talk

Our thoughts have the power to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, for it is our thoughts that fuel our words and behavior. Thinking well makes life less stressful, motivates our behaviors, and can improve our physical health with less risk of depression, heart disease, and even the common cold. Thinking well does not mean we need to ignore reality when life is hard; rather, we must simply reframe what’s happening to stay positive in the situation.

The best way to think well is to evaluate our self-talk. Self-talk is what we tell ourselves about the events that happen to us and around us, being comprised of facts and our interpretation of those facts. Herein lies the power. We can evaluate facts and stay positive, or we might walk into one of these four negative self-talk snares.

Black and white thinking. This is the “all-or-nothing” thought process. Life is either awesome or awful. There’s no in-between.

Personalizing. This thinking assumes everything is about you. (Ex: If you don’t get the job, the employer didn’t like you. A friend cancels plans? They don’t want to hang out with you.)

Generalizing. When you generalize, you presume you will always fail based on one mistake. (Ex: if you ask someone on a date, and they refuse, you will die all alone.) These thoughts leap to failure.

Catastrophizing. Here you expect the worst-case scenario always. (Ex: Forget your umbrella on a rainy day? It’s the start of something awful.) Catastrophizing always assumes the worst.

Self-talk can alter the outcome of many situations in our lives. Consider making small changes in your self-talk and watch your behavior follow suit.

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