We live in a time where mental and emotional health seem to be getting more attention than ever. People are talking more openly about their struggles and emotions. People are more open about their decision to seek therapy. And words like self-care, mindfulness, and gratitude are showing up more than ever. But there’s something that hasn’t quite gained the traction it deserves. There’s something that not enough people are talking about. And if they are, it’s not really with the depth or focus it deserves. But I’m bound and determined to bring this issue and skill to the table and to the front of your mind. Because I honestly believe that it’s one of the most underrated things for your mental health.
I’m talking about self-talk.
Now before you click away, or before you roll your eyes and say, “Yeah yeah, I get it,” hear me out. Self-talk isn’t just about saying nice things to yourself. It isn’t about constant pep talks or pie in the sky encouragement. Self-talk is about changing the conversation that’s already happening in your head. It’s about changing the narrative that’s playing, even when you don’t realize it.
You’re a human, which means you have a brain. And one of the brains primary functions is to generate thought. You’ve got a constant dialogue going on in your head, as your brain works to make sense of the world and your place in it. It’s just what brains do.
But that doesn’t mean your brain does this perfectly. Just like any other part of the body, the brain can misfire, mess up, and make mistakes. It generates thoughts that aren’t true. It draws conclusions that are inaccurate. It interprets things incorrectly. Mix this with your baggage, past hurts, fears, and insecurities, and your inner dialogue can go off the rails pretty quickly.
This is where self-talk comes in. Self-care talks back. Self-talk changes the conversation in your head. Self-care responds to automatic thoughts with more helpful and balanced thoughts.
When your anxious thoughts say, “It’s too hard, you can’t do this,” your self-talk says, “This is tough, and you can do this.” When your critical thoughts rev up after you make a mistake, calling you an idiot or a fool, your self-talk kicks in, reminding you that you’re a human and you’re allowed to make mistakes.
When you think about trying something outside your comfort zone, fear pops up. Your thoughts convince you to avoid, stay safe, and retreat to comfort. But here comes your self-talk, reminding yourself that you can do hard things and that discomfort is necessary for growth.
If you let the unconscious dialogue in your head run the show, it will. If you let your thoughts go unchecked, you’re in trouble. You can’t always control what initial thoughts pop up. But you can control how you respond. In fact, you must.
Self-talk isn’t just some fluffy self-help tool. It’s a critical skill for your mental and emotional health. Like anything else, it’s new and different. Which means it’ll take some practice. But don’t all good things?
Ready to embrace self-talk? Here’s one of my favorite places to start: The Simple Hack That Will Take Your Self-Talk to the Next Level.