How to Improve Your Day in 5 Minutes or Less
Updated: Mar 7
Addressing Your Inner Critic
What comes to mind when you hear the words “self-talk”? I usually get mixed responses and sometimes people look at me as if I’ve confused them. Yes, there are thousands of self-help books that promote the power of positive self-talk and telling yourself how amazing you are may seem far-fetched as a solution, if you’re a skeptic, but there is a purpose to this popular technique.
Think of self-talk as your inner voice. Generally, I ask this question because we all experience dialogues in our minds, tempted by an inner critic who, if left unchecked, will lead us to a progression of negative feelings, moods, and decision-making.
Building a healthy stream of self-talk is the one skill you need to keep you motivated throughout your day.
How can positive self-talk help you?
Self-talk is a running commentary that will influence how you see yourself and others around you.
One of the most valuable lessons to learn as a child is to become aware of how thoughts can influence emotions and behavior.
This serves as a reminder for us adults as awareness over your thoughts gives you the power you need to regulate your mood in times of adversity and significant distress. By addressing our self-talk, instead of reacting to uncomfortable situations with strong emotions, we can rise above discomfort, simultaneously boosting our mood, self-esteem, and outcome.
There is a significant difference between positive and negative self-talk.
Positive self-talk through affirmations can encourage you, while negative self-talk can make you feel worse about yourself, your life, and everyone in it. Instead of rising to meet the day, we find ourselves in an endless cycle of negativity.
Sometimes, we take the negative things people say to us and replay them over in our minds (visually the same song on repeat). Eventually, we hear the messages so often that they influence our beliefs and emotions.
A few examples of “negative” self-talk may look like this:
“Why can’t I ever succeed?”
“No one understands me.”
“I wish I were a better person.”
“My life’s not going the way I want it to.”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“My life is a mess.”
“I’m a failure.”
“I’ll never make it.”
“There must be something wrong with me.”
“I’m not worth it.”
Fortunately, overwriting these negative thoughts with positive self-talk and affirmations will change your thinking habits and help you find motivation, joy, and happiness.
“Watch what you tell yourself, you’re likely to believe it.” — Russ Kyle
What are positive affirmations?
Plainly, affirmations are positive statements, phrases, or mantras used to dispel or challenge any unhelpful, negative thought loops that persist in your mind. Even with minimal belief, using positive affirmations can help create new thinking patterns, boost mood, motivate, and combat a cycle of negativity. You are your greatest strength and speak to yourself the most, It might as well be something that will help you more than hurt you.
Are positive affirmations genuinely beneficial?
Affirmations have been a significant element in the psychology field. While positive affirmations are not purely designed as "cure-alls" to address serious mental health concerns, mood disorders, depression, or anxiety, they can help in conjunction with therapy, self-care, and having a strong support network.
Here are five examples of evidence from scientific research, taken from Positive Psychology, that suggests how practicing positive affirmations can be beneficial:
Positive affirmations have been shown to decrease health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015).
Positive-affirmations have been used effectively in interventions that led people to increase their physical behavior (Cooke et al., 2014).
They may help us perceive otherwise “threatening” messages with less resistance (Logel & Cohen, 2012).
They can make us less likely to dismiss harmful health messages, responding instead to change for the better (Harris et al., 2007).
They have been linked positively to academic achievement by mitigating GPA decline in students who feel left out at college (Layous et al., 2017).
Positive Affirmation In Practice
Practicing positive affirmations can be simple. Reciting affirmations alters the direction of our mind into a more positive mental state. Still, you will receive the most significant benefit if you create a habit of practicing them consistently. Start today. Pick a phrase and repeat it to yourself daily.
Below is a list of strong positive affirmations that you can choose from.
Important point: Don’t isolate yourself to this list, what else could you think of?
I am happy, healthy, safe, and free.
My goals and desires are as worthwhile as everybody else’s.
My body is amazing just the way it is, healthy and thriving.
I am reliable and capable of great things.
I am loved and supported.
I am exactly where I need to be.
I choose to be happy.
I’m okay with who I am, I fully accept myself, I love who I am becoming.
I am resilient, durable, and brave.
I am doing my best, and my best is enough.
When I fall, I am motivated to get back up.
I am brave and not afraid to keep going.
I am in charge of my thoughts and, therefore, my feelings.
(While looking in the mirror) I love you. You’re worth it.
I deserve to see myself as amazing.
I am good enough, and I am okay with just being me.
These words are unique to each and every one of you. No matter whichever positive affirmation you choose to focus on, the most essential aspect is how they make you feel. If it doesn’t happen immediately, don’t let it discourage you. Remember that this is practice and you’ve only just begun a new way of thinking. Find compassion for yourself while learning something new. If we can change the way we think with the words we choose to use, our entire outlook on life can radically change.
We all experience self-talk. Developing the skill to think positively will significant impact your decision-making, mood, and relationships. Like anything else, they won't work without practice. So, write down a few positive affirmations and/or create your own. Put them in your phone, car, favorite book, around the house, and office. Our attention span is short, utilize these simple messages to monitor your self-talk and keep you going.
I’m curious about what works for you and how positive affirmations have helped. Please let me know in the comments!
We see therapy as a practice of being present with whatever authentic experiences show up. If you are interested in setting up an appointment, visit our therapists here.
Cohen, G. L., & Sherman, D. K. (2014). The psychology of change: Self-affirmation and social psychological intervention. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 333–371.
Cooke, R., Trebaczyk, H., Harris, P., & Wright, A.J. (2014) Self-affirmation promotes physical activity. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 36(2), 217–223.
Harris, P. R., Mayle, K., Mabbott, L., & Napper, L. (2007). Self-affirmation reduces smokers’ defensiveness to graphic on-pack cigarette warning labels. Health Psychology, 26, 437–446.
Layous, K., Davis, E. M., Garcia, J., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Cook, J. E., & Cohen, G. L. (2017). Feeling left out, but affirmed: Protecting against the negative effects of low belonging in college. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 227–231.
Logel, C., & Cohen, G.L. (2012). The role of the self in physical health: Testing the effect of a values-affirmation intervention on weight loss. Psychological Science, 23(1), 53–55