Keeping a positive outlook on life can certainly be a challenge, especially when there seems to be so much negativity everywhere you turn. While I am slowly learning to master the art of dealing with stress, thanks to many of the suggestions from our members in an earlier blog, learning to project a more positive outlook in my life is the next step to taming the voice inside my head.
In fact, research has shown that negative self-talk can be quite detrimental to our overall health and well being by:
- Lowering our self-esteem
- Making us more susceptible to illness
- Increasing stress in our lives
- Limiting our abilities to think through an issue or problem
- Leading to greater anxiety
This is one area my running coach really has really helped me with. Last summer when I started doing speed drills, it wasn’t too uncommon for me to make up every excuse I could to avoid doing them. I was too old. It was too hot. I just couldn’t do them. But Coach Lee, in all his infinite wisdom that a 25 year could have, would run up right beside me and say, “If you believe you can’t succeed, you won’t. When you have this type of talk going through your mind, you will fulfill exactly what you believe is true. So you need to restructure your self-talk. Tell yourself you will do your best to cross the finish line and you will.”
While I would like to say I conquered this battle last summer, I have been on this journey far too long to know that it is going to take some time and patience. However, waking up every morning with a positive thought and reading through my countless inspirational quotes and daily affirmations, I am beginning to let go of the negative self-talk, eager to embrace the positive. Just taking a few minutes every day practicing positive self-talk can do wonders.
If I find I have a lousy dinner Friday night, instead of beating myself up for falling short, I must stop my thinking and change directions. Therefore I tell myself, “Just because I had a not-so-good dinner Friday night does not mean that I have to have a not-so-good weekend. One meal will not undo all the hard work I have done so far.”
I am also using this same technique in helping me learn to accept my body for what it is. I have been blessed with very muscular legs, but I never really saw them like that until a few months ago. I have learned to accept them for what they are. I no longer refer to them as my ‘fat thighs.’ I now refer to them as powerful hamstrings and quadriceps that allow me to power up a hill or to sprint across the finish line.
Letting go of the negative self-talk is something I must work at every day. It is so easy to get caught up in it. But once you learn that you are the one in control of how you respond to the negative self-talk, then all you need to do is practice changing directions.
Have you ever practiced the technique of positive self-talk? Have you ever found yourself falling into the trap of negativity when others start complaining? Do you think that we can change our ways just by how we think?