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What Did I Say?

Staff Blogger
Shereen Lister ATC Drama Coordinator

Self-talk is our internal dialogue and commentary of our actions and beliefs. Sadly, all too often, we form habits of negative self-talk.

Our self-talk is not only influenced by our thoughts and values, but also shaped by past experiences and external influences, especially from childhood when the subconscious is in its most formative years.

Raising awareness of our self-talk patterns and making a conscious effort to shift from negative to positive can help to ‘reprogram’ habits, increase wellbeing, promote joy and optimism and improve physical health.
Even better – the more we model and practice positive self-talk around children, the more it helps them to form positive habits and provides positive external influences that shape their future beliefs and thoughts. Moreover, these positive outcomes of some good self-talk can support children to feel more focused and confident in their learning increasing rates of success and achievement, whilst also potentially decreasing anxiety and stress levels.

Break Away Ted Talk

Negative self-talk is usually categorised by having some of these qualities –

• Personalising – take blame for everything
I can’t do anything right, I’m useless.

• Magnifying – focus on only the negative aspects of a situation
That was the worst trip to work today – I got every red light.

• Catastrophising – expect the worst outcome, even in the face of logic
I spilt coffee on my shirt this morning – now everything will go wrong today, the day is ruined!

• Polarising – see things a black or white, good or bad – no middle ground
If our team loses this one game, the whole season is ruined.

Can you notice any of these patterns in your, or your child’s, thinking?

If negative self-talk is your default, or a common occurrence there are some ways to shift your thinking, and with time replace your negative habits with more positive talk.

These tips may help you and your son:

• Identify your traps – certain scenarios may increase your doubts and insecurities, leading to more negative talk. Acknowledging and preparing for challenging situations can help circumvent the negative response.

• Observe your language – take notice of the things you say to yourself. Compare how you speak to yourself versus how you talk to others. Would you ever say the things you tell yourself to a loved one?

• Question the truth – when you catch yourself saying something negative, question if that statement is 100% true. Often saying the statement out loud also helps you to see its ‘ridiculousness’. If it is not 100% true (it usually isn’t) then find an alternate that could be true and say it to yourself.

• Check in with your feelings – when you are in a challenging circumstance or having a bad day, stop and evaluate your feelings. If they are becoming negative, do things to shift them before negative talk starts.

• Switch to solution-focused language – instead of “I can’t…” perhaps use “I WILL…” – solution focused language is usually more positive.

• Surround yourself with positive people – in a positive environment the positivity is likely to rub off on you and will influence your thoughts and language.

• Use positive affirmations – place quotes around home or work/school, develop a daily practice of saying affirmations or google some inspirational words when you feel down. Just seeing and hearing positive statements can help break the negative loop.

Remember – practising this not only increases your own wellbeing, but also models self-care for children. Furthermore, having conversations about this with our children also helps them to be more active and competent in their own self-care.

If you would like to discuss this topic further, please click here to email the author.