Desserts vs Stressed: How Self-Talk Can Make a Big Difference
As you look at this picture, you may be thinking to yourself, “These look amazing! Where can I get one, or let’s be honest, all of these! Or there may be another dessert that you have been thinking about and are looking forward to baking or picking up at the store. You may also look at this picture and instead of having excitement or anticipation, critical thoughts may creep in, such as “I shouldn’t eat this” or “I don’t deserve it.” For a minute, consider the word “desserts.” On a closer look,“desserts” spelled in reverse is the word “stressed.” Interesting, right? While the topic of desserts can elicit feelings of stress for some when they think about how this relates to health, body image, etc, for others these feelings are not present. While words inherently have meaning, how we interpret those words and the associations we have with them can greatly influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
One word can elicit very different responses as individuals’ experiences shape how they perceive the words they hear and how they view themselves and others. Going back to the example of dessert, if someone has a negative thought, such as “I don’t deserve this,” this may lead to that person having feelings of sadness, resentment, jealousy, and self-loathing, for example. These feelings can then in turn impact the choice that is made about the cupcake. Regardless if that person decides to eat the cupcake or not, the self-talk has influenced the decision making process.
The good news is that we have the ability to adjust our self-talk so that we can have more positive thoughts. In other words, showing ourselves kindness and self-compassion by the words we tell ourselves can help improve our mood and may lead to increased confidence, productivity, and healthy decision making. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started:
1. Simply Listen-It may take time to get used to tuning into what your inner voice is communicating. This may be a new exercise for some and that is alright! First, try to focus on the words you hear yourself saying. Do you find that your inner dialogue is more pronounced during certain situations or times of day? It may be helpful to keep track of your thoughts in a journal. You may even find that you are noticing certain themes or patterns that are occurring throughout the day. During this time, try not to place blame or judgement, rather just acknowledge what you are hearing yourself say.
2. Small Steps- When you start feeling more comfortable with being aware of your self-talk, examine what areas you would like to focus on. Are you finding that your self-talk is negative when it comes to work? How about when you interact with a certain person in your family or a friend? While you may feel that you would like to have more positive self-talk when it comes to many different areas in your life, please allow yourself grace and understanding that just because you have the awareness and knowledge does not mean you will be able to start implementing this skill right away with 100% accuracy and in every situation. Give yourself credit during times that you find you are able to reframe critical thoughts to affirming statements, and trust that with time, you will discover that this can become easier.
3. Reframe Not Deceit- When talking about the word reframe, we are referring to changing our self-talk so that it is more helpful, realistic, and kind. This does not mean to tell yourself things that are not true. Cultivating positive self-talk can be challenging, and at times, interactions with others, even those individuals with good intentions, can hinder our efforts. When these situations occur, being mindful of your core values and what is important to you can help guide your inner dialogue.
Interested in learning more about positive self-talk? At Think Happy Live Healthy, we are here to help support you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.