One of my favourite quotes is by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”.
The power of self talk is quite amazing. What you tell yourself can be one of the most helpful or harmful influences in your life. Now by self talk I don’t mean trying to find the positive in everything or telling yourself something is great, or even ok, when it is not. I am not talking about positive affirmations either (they are not my cup of tea). Positive self talk is about being realistic about a situation but being proactive in what you can do to cope with it.
Self talk, or what you say to yourself, is relevant to every situation you will ever find yourself in. Whether it is changing your eating habits, dealing with anxiety, trying to cope through depression, coming to terms with a difficult diagnosis, relationship break up, job change or any other situation, what you tell yourself about how you will cope can make all the difference.
If you (or someone else) tell yourself something enough, you will believe it. Themes such as “I am hopeless/worthless/useless”, “I can’t do anything right”, “I am a failure” usually stem from childhood environments and often become self fulfilling prophecies. These can be really hard to change and often benefit from working with a qualified therapist (click here for info on how to find one). When you make the conscious effort to tell yourself that you can cope with something, can survive a difficult situation, then it can actually make a difference to how you behave and how you feel.
Acknowledging that a situation is difficult, sad, stressful or anxiety provoking is important. These situations are part of life and it is not always necessary to try to find a ‘silver lining’. There is not always a positive in every situation (although there may be positive growth as a result) but there is always some small thing that you can take control over and this is where self talk comes into play. Self talk doesn’t have to be positive. It can be basic facts. When experiencing a panic attack, telling yourself “I am having a panic attack, it will pass eventually” or reminding yourself of the reasons for the physical sensations you are experiencing (read more about that here) can help you to ride it out while keeping somewhat calm. Repeating the phrase “this too shall pass” over and over again when your baby has been screaming for 3 hours straight can help you make it through the night.
Finding one thing about the situation that you have control over is an important coping strategy. You have control over what food you choose to put in your mouth. You have control over whether you shut yourself in your house or drag yourself outside for a short walk (regardless of how crap you feel). You have control over whether you avoid a situation because you feel anxious or face it anyway. You have control over what clothes you put on, whether you decide to put on make up, whether you have a shower in the morning. You can pick up the phone or jump onto the internet to find out information and you can choose what you tell yourself. Regardless of how overwhelming, hopeless, depressing, stressful, anxiety provoking or lonely a situation may be, there is always something you have control over. You will be surprised at how much of a difference taking control over something (no matter how small) can make.
It is important to remember that food intolerances or sensitivities, food additives, thyroid problems, poor gut health and nutrient deficiencies can lead to depression, anxiety or brain fog which can affect your ability to engage in useful self talk. Make sure to get these checked out and consider revamping your diet if necessary (remember, you have control over what you put in your mouth).
If you find yourself stuck, are spending time engaging in negative self talk, putting yourself down, telling yourself that you can’t. Or, if you are struggling to find something that you can take control over, consider recruiting some help. This may be in the form of a therapist, naturopath, personal trainer or a health coach. Maybe it is asking friends or family for help. I am also available for personal consultations either as a one off or a package including follow up sessions. You can contact me via my contact page.
Whatever path you take and wherever your life takes you, always remember “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”.