Welcome back Sheri Matthews, one of my most favorite people of all time and someone I’m truly grateful I get to call a friend. She’s a San Diego fitness and corporate wellness icon who radiates happiness and positivity. If you know Sheri, you love her. It’s that simple. Last month she shared her insight on creating time for things that matter and eliminating the B word (Busy). Today, she’s got more great insight on how to improve the quality of your life by taking control of your inner dialogue and she shares her Tips to Better Self-Talk!
We are our words and our words are our thoughts.
Two days a week I teach a group exercise class very early in the morning. As I walk into the studio I pass a man who sits alone on bench who passes out roses. Sometimes, I am the lucky recipient for no apparent reason. Sometimes I’m not. I always ask him, “How are you today Bill.” His answers range from “just OK,” to “I’m well” or “just fine and better seeing you.” He says exactly how he feels: Fine. Ok. Getting better.
Then, there are conversations that go on and on and no words are spoken aloud. Why? Because you’re having it with yourself. You know what I’m talking about. It’s also known as our inner dialogue. These conversations happen when we wash our hair, drive, or brush our teeth. It’s often during mundane tasks we talk to ourselves.
Believe it or not, with no idea what I wanted to do after college, or how I was going to use it, I ended up with a BS in Communications.* All the same, degree or not, my communication with others and myself, is sometimes great. But sometimes waaaaay off the mark, so I’m always working on both. Since the conversation we have with ourselves comes first, and is constant, lets take a little time to talk about talking to ourselves in a more productive way. Let me share with you my unofficial rules of “self-talk”
*Had accounting not been so maddening I probably would have stuck it out with a Business major instead of minor.
7 Tips to Better Self-Talk
1. Positive takes Practice
Your brain is a muscle and muscles we repeatedly use get stronger right? So logically, if you consistently work on (or work out) having positive thoughts go through your brain, those brain channels (fibers) becomes stronger and second nature, and pretty soon the other way of thinking will get lazy.
Tip: Challenge yourself to not think, say, or outwardly complain for 1 hour, work up to 1 day. You become more aware of your thoughts, both positive and how often you have less than positive ones.
2. One at a time
You can only have one thought in your brain at a time. Where do you want your mental energy to be spent? Productive and positively I would guess!
Tip: When you talk to yourself, is it from the past, something in the future, or in the present? Train your present thoughts to support what you want in the future. If the past is not productive, let it go.
3. Food for thought
Your language is stronger than your brain. Sad news: Your brain does not know the difference between “don’t worry” and “worry.”
Tip: If there is a song playing and I say to you “do not listen to the words whatever you do” it’s nearly impossible not to tune in and hear the words. The reason it’s challenging is not your rebel inner teenager, it’s because you just told yourself “do not listen.” Instead, I would ask you to “focus on filing your belly with air as you breath.” I’m willing to bet, in that moment, you don’t notice to the lyrics in the song.
4. I AM
Have a personal statement to define yourself. Who you are, aim to be, and strive to be.
Tip: Write it down and say it out loud to yourself. I AM _____. An “I AM” is sort of your one sentence or one-word bio or reminder to yourself of who you are and WANT to be. For example: “I AM a healthy, smart, strong mom, the keeper of my family, and a capable Accountant.” Mine is short and reminds me to live my life in a certain way. “I AM an example.”
When we talk to ourselves from a place of gratefulness, everything that follows that thought changes. I use to wake up, often early, immediately concerned with what to do first on my “to-do” list. (enter anxiety here). It’s a simple shift, swap “have to” for “grateful to.” When I make a list of what I have already and what is going well, it’s contagious. That sense of contentment lowers our cortisol and need for something more.
Tip: Need an example? Watch HERE. I highly encourage the self “high-five” at the end. Little Jessica has the “self-talk” down!
6. Imaginary Friend:
I often ask people in both corporate wellness and fitness classes one question: “If your friend was sitting next to you and you talked to them exactly how you talk to yourself, would you still be friends?” Eeek. I can be a victim of my own perfectionism, but I would never be so harsh with my friends. In other words, be nice to yourself. Be your own BFF. Just reverse it. Have you ever had that friend that constantly put themselves down? Don’t you wish they talked to themselves like they talk to you?
7. The Name Game
What’s in a name? A lot. Would you rather be in a crisis or a challenge? Would you rather fail or learn? What’s better – a deadline, or a goal. They are the same thing. Name things using positive language, and it changes your thoughts.
Next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, using any of these 7 tips can change your perspective and provide a small mental relief. Which one might you use most frequently?
Subscribe to Blog via Email