When you are struggling with stress, anxiety, panic attacks or even depression, how you talk to yourself is more important than you think. Your inner self dialogue can totally determine how you feel about yourself, others, and how you deal with life's circumstances. It can have a negative or positive effect depending on the thoughts you think most frequently. Your brain has the important job of believing what you tell it - whether good or bad. Your brain simply believes what you tell it. How you talk to yourself dictates how you feel about yourself, others, your life, your future... exactly everything about everything. If you are feeling a particular way, you can be sure it began with how you talk to yourself - the things you say, don't say and the attitude you say it in. It has been said that "if you don't like the way you feel, then it's time to look at what you are saying to yourself". Feelings are ALWAYS secondary to thoughts. There is no question that many people make decisions based on their feelings, but what exactly are the thoughts behind those feelings? It is one thing if your inner self-talk is based on truth, based on positive, optimistic thinking, but if your thinking is tarnished with pessimism, self-loathing, or predominately negative, you can totally bring on bad feelings and even sabotage your life and the choices you make. How you talk to yourself effects your interpretation of everything and your ability to cope with life's unfortunate circumstances.
First things first!
How do you talk to yourself?
First, it's important that you know how you talk to yourself on a regular basis. If you have been journaling faithfully as recommended, you should have an idea of your own inner self-talk by now. Many people are not in-tune with their own inner dialogue. They allow their thoughts to just be automatic, allowing every thought to exists without challenging it. Much of our struggles with depression, anxiety and panic has everything to do with how we talk to ourselves inside our own minds. If you are not aware of how you talk to yourself on a daily basis, it is extremely important that you get in touch with your inner self-talk. Once you figure out what thoughts are circulating inside your mind, you'll be better able to change these thoughts. Negative thinking is a bad habit! It is often chronic and very subconsious. This means the person may not even be aware they are doing it, but sadly enough, it influences everything from their feelings to their actions. So, if your life is overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, panic and/or depression, it's time to change!
Negative Thinking Sabotages Your Success!
Negative thinking, also known as negative self-talk, is something we all do. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is self-defeating and limiting when it comes to being successful in anything we are trying to accomplish. Whether it is something small or something big we are trying to achieve, if our thoughts are not in the right place, the chances of succeeding are slim to none. By thinking negatively we unknowingly sabotage our own success. Many people have a hard time recognizing negative thinking. It is important to note that any self-talk that leads to painful choices and inappropriate feelings is unhealthy self-talk. If things are not working out for you and if you are finding yourself in situations that are less desirable, it could be that your self-talk needs a complete makeover!
The great news is that negative thinking can be changed. Although you may have developed a bad habit of negative self talk, you have the ability to reverse your thinking. It may be hard to believe, but you have the power inside of you to make yourself feel better and to be successful at whatever you choose. It's not hard to change your negative thinking, but it does require your full dedication and persistence to overcome this problem. People do not realize the power behind self-talk. If they did, they would work harder at keeping the right thoughts inside their minds and discard every thought that was contrary to the truth.
It is so easy to just accept the automatic thoughts that come into your mind as fact, but the results of doing that can be self-destructive and devastating. Many people believe that if they feel a particular way, then it must be true, but the fact is, if you feel negative, then it's because you are thoughts are negative. You must remember that feelings are the END RESULT of what you tell yourself, not the other way around. Feelings should never dictate truth. Instead, truth (or what we believe to be true) dictates how we feel. If you want to change how you feel, it begins with your thoughts! Of course, you can't talk yourself out of reality, or the negative things that happen in life, but you can change your perspective about those things so your feelings will be more realistic and optimistic.
Positive, Truthful, Self-Talk Brings Positive Feelings
When you are willing to do the work, you'll start to notice a big change in how you feel and the choices you make. Through repetition of "thought stopping" followed by "positive thought replacement" techniques, you will be able to change your life for the better BUT YOU MUST BE COMMITTED to do the work! If you really want to change, want to feel better, have a better outlook, and handle stress better, you'll need to work hard for it - daily, hourly and some days, minute by minute! But, be prepeared, because your brain is so used to believing whatever you tell it that you'll come up against some resistance at first, but persistence is the only way to success!
Tips and Techniques for Changing Your Thinking
When you are trying to change how you talk to yourself, there are some things you can do retrain your mind to make it easier. You'll first want to interrupt these thoughts and then immediately replace them with more positive, truthful, encouraging thoughts.
STEP 1: Identify Your Thoughts
Answer these questions below to help you identify negative and anxiety producing thoughts. Write them down on paper so you can keep track of them. You cannot move onto the next step without knowing what your thoughts are and can look at them on paper. This is very important!
STEP 2: Challenge Your Thoughts
Look at the thoughts you wrote down from step 1. Ask yourself the following questions about those thoughts. Then write down the answers on a new piece of paper. Don't be lazy! It takes work to get better!
STEP 3: Replace Your Thoughts
Look at your original thoughts from step 1. You need to go over those thoughts and take the time to write replacement thoughts that are realistic, positive, and hopeful. Sometimes, finding new positive self-talk can take a little while and requires patience. This skill cannot work effectively without using it consistently, so do not give up!
STEP 4: Repeat Your New, Positive Self-Talk
Repetition is absolutely necessary in order for positive self talk to stick! It takes a lot of time for your body to catch up with your mind. In other words, it takes a lot of effort and hard work repeating positive self talk before you actually feel the positive changes within your body . If you work hard and you are faithful with practice, you will find your body eventually feeling the effects of your new thoughts which means less and less bothersome body symptoms.
You can't just do the above steps once and be done with it. It takes practice, lots and lots of practice. So how often do you have to do these steps? You will have to do them as many times as it takes to create new habits of thinking. For everyone the amount may be different, so it's important that you don't compare yourself to others and their recovery experience. Repetition is absolutely necessary if you want to find recovery from anxiety or depression. The truth is that you get to choose which thoughts you want to think! Why not choose positive, optimistic, encouraging, thoughts? Our bodies have one job when it comes to the mind/body connection and that is to respond to those thoughts. Our bodies cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined therefore your body will feel the effects of whatever it is you are telling yourself.
Another Helpful Method...
Another helpful method that will help get you started is to Write down at least 25 positive, truthful statements in the present tense, as if it has already happened. Think of your truthful statements as statements that could be true if you only believed them to be true.
Try starting each one of your sentences with:
Not all your statements have to begin with these. They are just examples you can use to practice with. Remember, nothing here in written in stone. Then, repeat these positive self talk statements to yourself for 15 minutes, twice per day. Perhaps once in the morning before you begin your day and once at the end before you go to bed. Either way, you will be reprogramming your mind to think the thoughts you choose to think, which will be deliberate thoughts! Remember, you get to choose the thoughts you want to think. You are in control, as long as you want to be.
Some Examples of Self-Talk
How to talk to yourself when you are stressed, worried, have anxiety, panic and/or depression matters greatly! You will hear this truth over and over again! It is important that you recognize the thoughts you think and how they relate to your current feelings. The thoughts you think can either add to your healing or add to your illness, it is completely up to you. Often, people who are suffering from anxiety don't realize just how much they are investing in their own suffering through self-talk. People sabotage their own success through becoming lazy, and allowing old thoughts and behaviors to rule. There are specific things you can say to retrain your mind so it will respond better when stressful situations or thoughts arise. If positive, truthful self-talk was done in the early stages of stress, many would never have never entered into anxiety or panic in the first place. Unmanaged stress results in overload, also known as "burn-out" and/or "sensory overload". Below are some self-talk examples you can use when challening yourself. Feel free to add your own. Included are PDF printouts for your convenience.
Remember! It is best to repeat these statements to yourself for at least 15 minutes, twice a day. Once in the morning, before you start your day and once before bedtime is ideal. You can repeat these statements to yourself aloud or you can record yourself while saying them and play it back anytime you wish. Some people use their cell phones to record these messages and that way they are able to have a convenient method of playing it back whenever they want to throughout the day. The more you repeat these statements, the more effective they will be. Remember, repetition is necessary when using self talk. The goal is to change your automatic negative thoughts to automatic positive thoughts. New habits of thinking take time, so be persistent and do not give up! Remember, you have the power to choose which thoughts you want to think.
How To Talk To Yourself For Stress
Using self-talk for stress will help prevent problems such as anxiety and depression before they start. Since stress is a precursor for deeper problems, it makes full sense to manage your stress before things become worse. There is no better time to learn self talk for stress than the present. The sooner you learn the better equipped you will be when stressful situations arise. Consider self talk for stress as preventative medicine! Even if you are not currently stressed, these statements may help prepare you so that your reaction to stress will be more positive and optimistic.
Self-talk for stress examples:
Self-Talk for Stress in Printable Format
To print these examples, click here: Self Talk for Stress File to open and then choose print. To save this file, right click the file and choose "SAVE AS" to your desktop.
How To Talk To Yourself For Worry
Here are some examples of how to talk to yourself for worry. If you worry a lot, then you know that worry is bad habit! If you do it enough, you will be so good at it, that you will do it automatically, even without trying. After all, this is how habits are created, through an enormous amount of repetition. If you are a worrier then you know all too well how unproductive it is. You can actually make yourself physically sick by worrying. As much as the worrier wants to change this bad habit, all too often the habit stays because many do not know how to change it. This section is meant to give you some clear self-talk for worry statements that you can use to help you overcome your bad habit of worry. You do not have to believe these thoughts right now. They may even be hard to believe at first, it takes your body to feel the effects of new thinking. The brain has one job and that is to accept what you are telling it. This means it will accept this new programming over time and anything else you choose to say to yourself. It truly is about you having full control over the thoughts you want to think. Reprogramming takes time and patience!
Self-talk for worry examples:
Self-Talk for Worry in Printable Format
To print these examples, click here: Self Talk for Worry File to open and then choose print. To save this file, right click the file and choose "SAVE AS" to your desktop.
How To Talk To Yourself For Anxiety and Panic
What does your self talk for anxiety and panic sounds like? Do you even know what to say to yourself before, during and after? When dealing with an anxiety or panic disorder it's very important that you understand that what you say to yourself will have a huge impact on your recovery. If your self-talk is negative and self-defeating, chances are almost guaranteed that anxiety and panic will always be an issue for you. Since what you say when you talk to yourself will determine your overall outcome, it is extremely important that you make sure your self talk is positive and truthful. Remember, repetition is vital to your success!
Self-talk for anxiety and panic examples:
Self-Talk for Anxiety and Panic in Printable Format
To print these examples, click here: Self Talk for Anxiety and Panic File to open and then choose print. To save this file, right click the file and choose "SAVE AS" to your desktop.
How To Talk To Yourself For Depression
When it comes to depression, self talk is extremely important, especially since our thoughts influence how we feel emotionally and physically. Depression enables you to become your own worst enemy. Most times, we would never talk to others the same way we talk to ourselves. Since depressed thinking and negative self-talk is based on ones own personal perception, you will need to customize your new self-talk according to your own automatic negative thoughts that are already there. Once you have identified your automatic negative thoughts, you can dispute those thoughts by asking yourself, "Is this thought true?" Be honest with yourself by writing down replacement thoughts that are truthful, and more encouraging. Although, you do not want to deny how you are thinking or feeling, the goal is to be more realistic and optimistic in your approach.
Self-talk for depression examples:
Remember, our thoughts determine how we feel and how we act. Keep your thoughts right and watch what happens! I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results of positive self-talk for depression.
Self-Talk for Depression in Printable Format
To print these examples, click here: Self-Talk for Depression File to open and then choose print. To save this file, right click the file and choose "SAVE AS" to your desktop.
In this MOST EXCELLENT book by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. called "What To Say When You Talk To Yourself". If you can get your hands on this book at your local library, PLEASE read it. But I highly recommend getting a copy of your own. If you do purchase a copy, you'll want to underline, highlight so many important facts to remember. It is a worthy tool to keep in your "recovery toolbox".
Step 7 Actions:
1. Find out how you talk to yourself on a daily basis! Then, focus on changing WHAT you say to yourself! Practice "Thought Stopping" and "Positive Thought Replacement" as often as possible. The more you do this, the better your outcome! This step is one of the most important steps to you making real, and lasting change.
2. Plan a time for your stress management activity! If you find it hard to fit this in your schedule, be sure to pull out your calendar and literally plan for this event. Write it down and follow up with it the same way you would an appointment. Make yourself a priority! This is more important than you know.
3. Take time each day to practice relaxation breathing. Be mindful of tension, habits of holding your breathe or overbreathing throughout the day. These are great moments to practice.
4. Plan a daily event you can do that will help you face your challenged situation. Remember, you get to pick how little or how much work you want to put into this. You are in full control over yourself and your comings and goings. Do something even if it's small and then slowly increase your activities as you see fit. Just be sure you are challenging yourself and when you are done, you quickly affirm yourself and your efforts!
5. Work on changing your diet to include foods that will support your body during this time. Also, consider natural supplements if you think you might need some help.
6. Continue incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Spend at least 20 minutes each day on your preferred type of exercise, such as aerobic, strength, or toning exercises. **Consult with your physician prior to doing this, especially if you currently suffer with a physical problem or are currently taking medication for a pre-existing condition.**
8. Write in a journal each day, preferably before bedtime, but this can also be done any time of day and more than once if you choose. Don't pressure yourself, just write whatever comes to mind. Leave some blank writing space at the bottom of the page.
9. Read over your journaling. Do you notice thoughts that are particularly negative or sound hopeless? If so, take this time to rewrite those thoughts in a more positive, optimistic, truthful way at the bottom of your journal page. Do this Positive Thought Replacement Homework at least once a day. If your thoughts are racing around and going through a particularly hard time, it helps to do this homework as many times possible throughout the day. As silly as this feels, it is very important that you DO NOT skip this exercise. Repetition is IMPORTANT and will help you get into the habit of becoming more away of your negative inner dialogue.
10. If you are struggling with obsessive thinking, take the time each day to practice visualization exercises and Positive Thought Replacement Exercises.
11. When you think you have developed a good system on how to talk to yourself, please visit Step 8. Building Self-Confidence Do not move forward until you are ready!
Want to recover without using medication? There are many different kinds of supplements that are available and very effective in helping people combat the physical symptoms of anxiety.