Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Positive Self-Talk Works

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How can you know that positive self-talk works and isn’t just some self-help scam? Because negative self-talk, that abusive internal running conversation you have going on with yourself about yourself, has been working for a long time.

The underlying story we tell ourselves about ourselves is important because we all look to the external environment to find evidence that confirms our underlying story. This is confirmation bias, something we’re all guilty of to one degree or another. It’s where we place greater emphasis on those data points that lend weight to a belief we already have and simultaneously place lesser emphasis or just ignore altogether those data points that cast doubt on the belief.

In a nutshell negative self-talk works in a negative feedback loop where the negative confirmation you get from your environment reinforces the supposed truth of your negative self-talk, which puts you in a psychic space to arrange for even more negative confirmation from your environment, and so on. 

The internal conversation we have going on with ourselves about ourselves is usually barely conscious and so you might be surprised, if you start consciously tracking it, to find that if you’re engaged in negative self-talk you’re casting all manner of dispersions upon yourself hundreds or even thousands of times a day! Who can be happy, relaxed, and free under those types of conditions? 

If you focus on changing the underlying narrative to one that’s more desirable, one that focuses on recognizing and developing your strengths rather than one that focuses almost exclusively on abusing you for your perceived deficits you’ll invariably start to notice and receive different sorts of feedback from your external environment. You’ll start to act differently and therefore pull out different sorts of feedback from your external environment. The newly forming feedback loop will confirm the new narrative just as the old feedback loop confirmed the old narrative. The reason we know positive self-talk works is because we know negative self-talk works. They’re two sides of the same coin. The question is, which side do you want to be on?