A prime goal of my approach is to increase people’s positive self-talk. I believe in the importance of positive self-talk so much that I’ve devoted pages to this topic in each of my books.
Researchers have acknowledged that in order to know yourself, you have to talk to yourself. They have studied children’s private speech for decades, but only recently have researchers focused on self-talk in adults. We use inner speech or self-talk for all sorts of things. We depend on it to solve problems, read and write, motivate ourselves, plan for the future, learn from our mistakes, learn language, and help regulate emotions.
Beyond helping people regulate their behavior in the present moment, positive self-talk is essential for learning from the past and planning for the future. By rehearsing and sometimes rewriting previous conversations, we can identify our errors and make sure not to repeat them.
Although talking to oneself is often advantageous, too much of the wrong kind of self-talk can backfire. Rumination, such as obsessively mulling over painful experiences, is both a symptom of and a risk factor for depression.
When depression tries to turn your inner speech into irrational thoughts of hopelessness, such as “There’s nothing I can do about this,” you can fight back with self-talk that contradicts those negative thoughts with positive and empowering thoughts, such as “I have a choice as to how I respond to this.”
Tip: Feelings always follow thinking. The way to change your feelings is to change your self-talk and thus your thoughts.
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