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Mind matters: the power of positive thoughts and self-talk

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

How many times have you heard: “What are you thinking about?” Or maybe: “What’s on your mind?” We often focus on what we’re thinking—and even why we’re thinking it. But have you ever considered how you’re thinking? 

The way you think is extremely important to almost every aspect of your life. However, it’s most important to your self-talk and self perception. Why? Your thoughts are responsible for creating an important—sometimes vicious—cycle of self perception. How you think determines what you tell yourself. What you tell yourself becomes how you see yourself. And, how you see yourself affects what you tell yourself. 

The ultimate effects of this cycle depend primarily upon whether we think and speak positively or negatively. When you make the switch from negative thinking to positive thinking, you begin to speak to yourself and see yourself in a more productive way. This newfound perception can also increase your chance at goal achievement and overall success.

Negative self thinking

If you’re looking to practice positive thinking and self-talk, you must first understand the negative side of things. Negative thinking can have a profound impact on how we perceive ourselves. When we consistently engage in negative self-talk or dwell on pessimistic thoughts, they create a distorted lens through which we view ourselves and the world around us. As we internalize these thoughts, our self-talk and self-perception take a massive hit, leading to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, or even worthlessness.

A negative mindset can also affect our behavior and decision-making. We may become more hesitant to take the risks necessary to pursue our goals for fear of failure or rejection. Constant self-criticism can erode our confidence and motivation, making it difficult to break out of negative thought patterns and achieve personal growth. What’s more, negative thinking can manifest itself physically, creating stress, anxiety, or even depression. 

Before learning to practice a more positive self-talk, let’s identify negative thinking and the forms it takes. This type of thinking and self-talk generally falls into four categories:

  1. Personalizing. This pattern of thinking leads to blaming oneself for external situations. Example: “If I had just done a better job, my organization wouldn’t be in this position.”

  2. Magnifying. This type of thought focuses on the negative aspects of a situation, magnifying what is perceived as bad and completely overlooking any positive outcomes.

  3. Catastrophizing. Often defined as expecting the worst regardless of logic or reason, this thought pattern leads one to see—and expect—the worst case scenario in every situation.

  4. Polarizing. With this method of thinking, you’ll see everything in absolute terms: either completely good or bad. There’s no gray area, and no middle ground for processing or categorizing events.

  5. Blaming. Do you have a habit of blaming other people or events for the obstacles you face? You may be following the blaming pattern of thought. These thoughts assign blame—justly or unjustly—to others for present hardships. 

These four categories of negative self thinking are important to understand in order to recognize and identify your own negative thoughts. Recognizing when and how negative thinking impacts you can help consciously identify and reject those negative thoughts—and improve your self-talk. 

Negative thinking and self-talk doesn’t just alter our personal perception of self, but it also impacts our ability to live productive lives and become our best self. Breaking free from the cycle of negative self-talk requires self-awareness, self-compassion, and a commitment to challenging those negative thoughts and perceptions. 

The power of positive thoughts and self-talk

Positive thinking and self-talk play a crucial role in shaping our perceptions, behaviors, and overall well-being. The language we use in our self-talk is a direct result of our way of thinking, so it follows that positive thoughts can have the power to change our mindset and our perspective—and  impact our actions and performance. 

The benefits of positive thinking and self-talk are incredible and irrefutable. Studies have shown that those who deliberately seek to think and speak positively often experience increased life spans, decreased symptoms or feelings of anxiety and depression, and an overall higher quality of life. 

Positive thinking and self-talk are powerful tools for enhancing success, resilience, and overall well-being. By creating a mindset of optimism, gratitude, and self-compassion, we empower ourselves to face the inevitable challenges of our growth journeys while fostering stronger relationships, achieving greater success, and living a more fulfilling life.

How to practice positive thinking and self-talk

  1. Identify situations or events that tend to trigger negative thought patterns. Certain situations, events, or relationships may trigger our negative thinking and affect our self-talk. By identifying when you experience negative thoughts and talk the most, you can better anticipate and prepare for the moment.

  2. Give yourself positive affirmations. When negative thoughts or self-talk rear their ugly heads, take a moment to pause and embrace the good you have done. Reflect on your progress, talents, and successes. 

  3. Practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude has numerous benefits, one of which is a much more positive outlook and perception. If you want to improve your thoughts and self-talk, begin by making a conscious effort to practice gratitude. Discover the power of gratitude and our tips for its practice here.

  4. Keep track of your goals and activities. One surefire way to banish negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy is to keep track of your goals and activities. Checking off tasks from our to-do list, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, allows us to visualize our progress and see otherwise intangible results. This provides the confidence and positivity we need to stay focused on our goals, and increase our successes. 

  5. Follow a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t just important to achieving our goals, but to experiencing an overall higher quality of life. Exercising, eating well, and prioritizing our well being and the well being of our loved ones can greatly improve our thinking—and our lives.

  6. Surround yourself with positive people. It’s true what they say: bad company corrupts good character. If you’re constantly surrounded by people who only think and speak the worst of any situation, that negativity will inevitably weigh you down and hamper your journey to positivity. How can you see the sun if you surround yourself with clouds? Surround yourself, instead, with those who are practicing positivity and gratitude if you truly want to banish negativity.

The difference between success and struggle could be the way you think about and speak to yourself. Negative thoughts can poison your self-perception and self-confidence, keeping you from being all that you can be. Let positive thinking and self-talk rule your mind and drive you to the best version of yourself.

If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into positive self-talk, watch our exclusive Power of Positivity. Or, discover the hidden power behind everyday elements with The Power Blog Series.

© 2024 The Growth Group, LLC - All rights reserved

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