Advertising
Advertising

Self-Talk Determines Your Success: 15 Tips

Self-Talk Determines Your Success: 15 Tips

Self-talk is the act of talking to yourself either aloud or mentally. These are the messages that you are telling yourself all day long about yourself. Are your messages to yourself positive and uplifting, or are you constantly beating yourself down? Would you want to be around a friend who constantly says negative and derogatory things about you all day long? Of course not, so don’t do it to yourself.

The messages you tell yourself will encourage and motivate you, or they will limit you because they are negative. For example, if you go to a work party and make a joke in front of 10 colleagues and no one really laughs, just a few chuckles from those being nice, what do you tell yourself after the party? Do you drive home thinking “I should have just kept my mouth shut, now they think I am an idiot,” or do you tell yourself “No big deal, at least I put myself out there and tried.”

Version one of self-talk will make you question yourself at your next social event. You may even hold yourself back from saying too much out of fear of embarrassment or making yourself feel bad. Worse yet, you may develop an aversion to social situations because you make yourself feel insecure about your interactions with others because of your self-talk.

Version two of self-talk allows you to give yourself a pass to try again. To just be human and interact with others because we cannot all be on spot with humor and social interactions 100% of the time, but it is worth the effort to at least try. Self-talk is so important, as these are the messages that determine whether you should keep trying or not. The messages you send yourself can either help you succeed or they can hold you back and keep you paralyzed in fear.

Advertising

Here are 15 tips to help you provide yourself with good, positive self-talk in everyday life:

1. Replace Negative Thoughts with Positive

Negative thoughts happen. It’s hard to provide yourself with positive thoughts all the time. However, you can start replacing negative thoughts with the positive. There is always a flip side or upside to any situation. It’s up to you to start finding the positive in order to begin changing your negatives into positives. For example, if you sign up for a half-marathon race and make it to mile ten and then get a leg cramp so bad that you are unable to finish, you may mentally call yourself a quitter or consider the situation a failure. You can turn those thoughts around by telling yourself that at least you tried and you made it all the way to mile ten. Remind yourself how you pushed through some tough hills on the course and you stayed committed to all the training that got you to be able to run in the race. Be positive when negative thoughts creep into your mind. Doing so will help you find the motivation to try again in the future. It you concentrate on the negative, you are mentally holding yourself back from trying again.

2. Have a Purpose Higher than Self

Having a strong faith in a higher power is helpful in having positive self-talk. Research shows that teens who had “regular religious service attendance, high subjective importance of faith and years spent in religious youth groups are associated with higher self-esteem and more positive self-attitudes.” Having faith in a higher power, along with involvement in a religious community, helps individuals have higher self-esteem. Self-esteem and self-talk go hand in hand.

3. Cut Overly Negative People out of Your Life

Everyone can have a down day and be negative or moody. However, some people seem to have down days every day of their life. If you have some of these people in your life it, may be time to distance yourself from them. Attitudes of the people you are around will have an effect on your own attitude. If someone has a negative attitude they are likely to bring down those around them, especially if their negativity is pervasive over time and across a variety of situations. It is hard to cut family or co-workers out of your life; however, you can limit your time and exposure to these people. Don’t spend time off work with negative co-workers. Don’t hang with negative co-workers in the break room. Keep the negativity to a minimum in your life by limiting your time with negative people..

Advertising

4. Be Grateful

A great way to find the positive in your life and create positive self-talk is to recognize the things in your life for which you can be grateful.  A study in Psychology Today showed that “young adults assigned to keep gratitude journals showed greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other groups.” Finding things you are grateful for in life on a daily basis helps to improve your attitude, which will help you have better, more positive self-talk..

5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

When you are constantly comparing yourself to what others have and what you don’t have, you can easily get down on yourself. It is easy to become negative about your life if you are playing the comparison game. Instead, find gratitude in what you do have, rather than concentrating on what you don’t have. You can always find others who are better off than you or worse off than you. If is more important to concentrate on yourself and on being grateful for your own life and not making any comparisons.

6. Use Positive Words with Others

If we are negative with our words with others, then we are more than likely to be negative in our mind about ourselves as well. Having negative thoughts leads to negative self-talk. If you are in a negativity rut, then stop now. Start speaking life and affirmation to the people in your life that you love, including yourself. Doing so will help improve the attitude in your heart. Positivity breeds positivity, and negativity breeds negativity. Choose the positive for yourself and others.

7. Believe in Your Success

Believe in your ability to succeed. Believe in the abilities and skills that you have, so that you can propel yourself toward success. Doubting yourself holds you back from trying and thus holds you back from succeeding. Believe you can succeed, even if it takes multiple tries.

Advertising

8. Don’t Fear Failure

Don’t fear failure, as it is often the road to success. Some of the greatest success stories in life are of people who failed multiple times before becoming successful. If they had given up the first time after failing, then they never would have become hugely successful. Fear of failure holds back many people from ever even trying to succeed. They remain in their status quo in life because they live in fear of failure. If Milton Hersey had given up after his first three candy companies failed, he wouldn’t have gone on to create the world-famous Hershey’s candy company. He is just one example of someone who failed many times before finally succeeding: “6 Stories of Super Successes Who Overcame Failure.” Don’t allow fear to hold you back from trying. Tell yourself you can keep trying if you do fail!

9. Post Positive Affirmations

A great way to provide positive self-talk to yourself is to write it down. Have positive mantras, scriptures, and affirmations written and posted for you to view throughout your day. Post them on your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, next to your computer screen, or wherever you can see them often on a daily basis. Having positive messages around you helps to shape positive self-talk in your mind.

10. Don’t Dwell in the Past

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone has a past. Everyone has bad things in their past. Don’t concentrate on these failures, mistakes, or negative things that have happened in your life. Keep your mind focused on the future and what is possible. Especially the positive things that are possible. There is a reason why your windshield is so big and your rear-view mirror is so small in your vehicle. What’s ahead is far more important than what is behind you.

11. Visualize Your Success

Your ability to visualize your success is tied to your ability to actually achieve success. This article on visualizing success shows how many highly successful people use visualizing to help them succeed. Visualizing helps you think positively about your situation and encourages you to see that your vision of success is possible.

Advertising

12. Limit Your Intake of the News and Media

The news and media can be predominantly negative. When you are constantly feeding your mind negative messages it becomes very difficult to find positive self-talk. Limit your exposure to news and media. It’s good to be an informed citizen, but sometimes it is good for your mind and soul to shut off the TV and cut off the negativity that is happening everywhere in the world. Remind yourself there are lots of positive things happening in the world too, but they just aren’t put on the news.

13. Help Others

Helping others is a way to bless others, but it can also be an even bigger blessing to yourself. This article on helping others shows how beneficial this act can be to yourself. You can experience feelings of being more positive, empowered, and optimistic by helping others. These feelings will help you have better self-talk during your day. Try to do one thing each day to help another person, so that you can begin the habit of helping others on a regular basis. You will thank yourself later, as will the people you help.

14. Be Physically Active

This article on research related to exercise and mental health shows that there are a great many benefits to becoming active. The article reviewed a variety of research studies and pointed to the many benefits of exercise including: increased creativity, reduced anxiety, improved self-confidence, reduced stress, increase in happy brain chemicals, and more. All of these factors will help with your ability to provide positive self talk to yourself and eventually succeed in life. Get up, get active, and improve your body and mind together by exercising on a regular basis.

15. Dream and Set Goals

A great way to begin positive self-talk is to dream about the future. What is your desire in life? What do you want out of life? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, or 15 years? Allow yourself to dream big and then set smaller goals toward reaching those end goals. Encourage yourself toward your life successes by providing supportive messages about how you will achieve these goals. When you reach these small goals you will develop positive thoughts about your abilities and skills related to how you achieved these milestones. This helps with your positive self-talk. Don’t get down on yourself if you do have failures along the way. Allow for flexibility and changing of plans along your route, and you will be a happier person. Tell yourself it’s OK to let go of some dreams and take on new ones as well. Your life is yours. Allow yourself to dream and to go for those dreams. Shoot for the stars; you never know which one you will hit. If not the first one, then try, try again. Respect and appreciate yourself and your ability to keep trying.

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

Doctor of Psychology

Most Overlooked Signs of Autism in Children (And What Parents Can Do) Parents Are Their Own Worst Enemies How To Raise Healthy, Happy Kids After Going Through a Divorce Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It) How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately

Trending in Brain

115 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood 2How to Build Good Habits 3Science Says Piano Players’ Brains Are Very Different From Everybody Else’s 4You’re Exceptionally Creative If You See The Correct Image (Only 1/100 People Can Do This!) 5If You Have These 6 Struggles, You’re Highly Intelligent

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 8, 2018

15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood

15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood

These days, you feel like a robot.

You drag your feet into work and you have to deal with your boss. You’re hustling this year yet again to try and make more money than last year.

You come home to kids who always need something from you and all the things that need to be done around the house barely gives you any time to connect with your spouse.

You don’t even have a moment to yourself and it’s beginning to stress you out to the point of burnout.

But life doesn’t have to be this way.

What if there was a simple solution that’s been scientifically proven to decrease your stress levels? Something that will clear your mind of all the clutter and help you feel refreshed each morning with more focus and energy? Like you’re ready to take on the world?

This is exactly what meditation does.

In fact, over 50 years of scientific research has unearthed a whole bunch of evidence of all the different life changing meditation benefits. Here are 15 ways meditating regularly has been shown to significantly improve your brain function and mood.

1. You get fluent at making good decisions.

If you’re stressed out often, you’ve probably had those moments in your life where you made bad decisions as a result. Whether it’s details you missed for an important project or a big mistake you made that negatively affected other people, you know what it’s like when you’re not at your best.

What’s being impaired in moments like this is a skill called executive function.[1] Simply put, executive function is the part of your brain that helps you get results for goals you are trying to achieve. It’s what helps you do things like manage your time, pay attention, plan, organize and remember details.

Studies have shown compelling evidence that it helps people who have impaired executive functioning skills from conditions such as Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).[2] A study run by Dr. Lidia Zylowska showed 78% of adult participants with ADHD experienced a reduction of overall ADHD symptoms when they regularly used meditation practices.[3]

2. You become an expert at handling stress.

Moments of stress triggers your amygdala, also known as your “lizard brain”. It’s the primal part of your brain which is associated with fear and emotion and its primary function is to help you survive.

High levels of stress can make you enter into lizard brain mode where it is dominated by the amygdala. It can be described when one “flips his lid” and is controlled by overwhelming emotion such as fear or anger. Think about it as times you’ve been in a heated argument or deathly afraid of something that might hurt you.

When you are in this mode, other important parts of your brain like the pre-frontal cortex, which is the part of your brain that is capable of higher level thinking such as decision-making, self-awareness, empathy and morality, are turned off

Advertising

Because the amygdala isn’t as great at logical thinking for the less straightforward situations of daily life, meditation can help decrease your stress levels by first getting you out of your lizard brain and back to being in the present moment, which then empowers you to respond to stress in a much better way.

For example, you might be in lizard brain mode thinking all the time about how to survive by making more money, but through meditation, you connect with what’s most important despite all the stress. You realize before it’s too late that you’ve been ignoring the more important things like connecting with your kids and maintaining intimacy with your spouse.

MRI scans have shown that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the amygdala appears to shrink. And as the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex becomes thicker.[4]

Basically, science has shown that meditation can help you become better at handling your stress by activating the part of your brain that makes better decisions.

3. You naturally remember useful information.

Imagine a time where you told yourself a list of items you wanted to buy at the grocery store without physically writing it down. By the time you get to the store, you’ve forgotten what some of those items were.

This is when your working memory capacity has fallen short. You use your working memory when you need to place a sticky note in your mind so that you can use it in the near future. The problem is sometimes those sticky notes fall off by the time you need it.

If your working memory is the information that goes on these mental sticky notes, then your working memory capacity is how long you can have these sticky notes stay on before it falls off. The longer time you have to hold information, the more time you have for reasoning and comprehension to occur.

Meditation has been shown to improve your working memory capacity.

One study had about 200 teenagers assigned to either a mindfulness meditation practice, yoga, or were wait-listed as a control group.[5] Results showed that the teenagers participating in the meditation group had significantly better working memory capacity than those participating in the other groups.

4. You become an amazing smooth talker.

If you’ve ever had a time when you were talking with someone and you had trouble finding the right words to express what you were trying to say, you’ve had a moment where your verbal fluency wasn’t at it’s best.

​Verbal fluency as defined by verbal skill expert, Min Liu, is the “ability to find the right words at the right time or in the right situation.”[6]

When sixty-three University of North Carolina, Charlotte students with no meditation experience volunteered for an experiment that studied the effects of meditation on their verbal fluency, results showed that there was a significant improvement in verbal fluency in those who engaged in mindfulness meditation versus those who did not.[7] And to add to these impressive results, the group who meditated only did it for 20 minutes a day over four day period.

5. You develop laser-like focus.

With all the information at our fingertips in this digital age, it’s easy to get distracted. We are exposed to an average of 10,000 marketing advertisements a day and it’s hard to discern what the important things we should focus on are. The artificial A.D.D. culture we’ve created has made us have significantly shorter attention spans due to information overload.

Taking as little as 20 minutes a day for five days to engage in meditate has improved one’s attention, which shows the power of simply making a subtle shift and spending a tiny fraction of your day simply being present.[8]

Advertising

6. You superpower your brain.

All the signature folds you see on the outer surface on the brain that look like windy roads have been formed to help increase the speed of brain cell communication. The formation of these folds is known as gyrification. Since your brain doesn’t have any space inside your skull to get bigger, it undergoes gyrification to increase the capacity of your brain function.

Long-term meditators have been shown to have a larger amount of gyrifcation compared to those who don’t practice meditation.[9] More interestingly, a direct correlation was found between the amount of gyrification and the number of meditation years, which is proof of the capability of our brain to continue growing even as adults.

This means the more you meditate, the faster and more efficient your brain becomes at processing information, which can be especially useful in moments where you need to think fast.

7. You are better at problem solving.

When your brain is solving a challenging problem, it requires the skill to focus attention on what’s most important amongst a large amount of information.

A simple example of your brain at work engaging in such conflict resolution is when you’re at a loud party talking to a friend. If your brain didn’t detect and resolve all the conflicting stimulation around you by helping you ignore all the noise around you and focus on your friend, you’d probably have a sensory overload.

The same principal applies when you run into larger conflict resolution challenges. You need to be able to determine what’s most important and focus your attention on it.

Multiple studies have shown that participants in groups who partook in meditation practices had performed higher on evaluations that tested conflict resolution skills compared to groups that didn’t.[10]

This goes to show why those who meditate generally have a lower stress level. Their brains are more adept at conflict resolution.

8. Your creativity starts to flourish.

The Harvard Business Review has conducted experiments that have shown that 10-12 minutes of mindful meditation practices were enough to boost creativity.[11] The majority of participants who were part of the meditation arm of the study reported that it helped them “clear their minds, focus more on the task at hand, and come up with original solutions.”

Mindfulness meditation gets ideas flowing directly to your neocortex, which is where all of your creative thinking takes place. It’s no surprise why some of the most leading companies have introduced meditation in the workplace as a result:[12]

“The Walt Disney Company was an early adopter of meditation in the workplace, as they noticed a dramatic increase in creativity after employees meditated on creative solutions. General Mills is another company which reports improved innovation as a result of sitting in stillness and has meditation rooms available to their staff. Google has an in house mindfulness program called ‘Search inside Yourself’ and has built a labyrinth for mindful walking meditations.”

9. You kill your anxiety and experience more peace.

About 6.8 million Americans suffer from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and even if you’re not one of them, chances are you at least worry about something on most days.

When worrying becomes a normal part of your daily life, it can take its toll on you and you find yourself losing sleep, being tense and have a racing mind that won’t sit still.

Meditation has been long established as an antidote for anxiety. Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist recruited fifteen healthy volunteers with normal levels of everyday anxiety to test out this theory.[13] The participants had no previous meditation experience. After engaging in four 20-minute mindfulness meditation classes, it was reported that anxiety was noticeably reduced in every session that they meditated.

Advertising

The brain imaging scans taken of these individual revealed that meditation was providing anxiety relief by activating the anterior cingulate cortex which is one part of the brain that helps with the control of worry. Scans also revealed decreases in the grey matter of the amygdala which is the part of the brain that plays an important role in anxiety and stress.

10. Your brain stays young forever.

Most of the neurons in your brain are contained within a portion known as grey matter. It’s within the grey matter where essential things such as memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control take place.

After you reach 30-years-old, your brain begins to slowly shrink.[14] But evidence shows that those who keep their brain in shape by engaging in regular meditation practices can prevent the shrinking altogether.

One study from UCLA showed that in long-term meditators, age-related grey matter loss was less pronounced compared to those who didn’t meditate.[15] Brain scans of the participants who had been meditating for an average of 20 years even showed more grey matter volume throughout their brain than expected.

11. You become great at adapting to changes.

Cognitive flexibility is the vital function that’s been described as the ability to adapt behaviors in response to changes occurred in the environment.

Imagine if you started to live in a new country, your level of cognitive flexibility will determine how fast you can adjust to all the changes to your environment such as having the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car, learning the local language and figuring out the nuances of the new culture.

Meditators performed significantly better than non-meditators as examined in a study which brought participants through exercises that tested cognitive flexibility.[16] The study indicated that mindfulness is closely linked to improvements to cognitive flexibility.

So if you’re ever having trouble adjusting to a new situation, maybe a little meditation will solve your problem.

12. You begin to win your battle with the blues.

A research review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of Internal Medicine in January 2014 showed meditation was about as effective as an antidepressant.[17]

Another study on mindfulness meditation published by psychologists from the University of Exeter found it to be better than drugs or counseling for depression.[18] They found that after four months of meditating, about 75% of patients felt well enough to stop taking antidepressants.

Even if you aren’t suffering from clinical depression, meditation will uplift your mood if you’re feeling down.

13. You grow stronger and experience less pain.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent and that seasoned meditators can reduce it by over 90 percent.[19] Brain scan studies show that meditation can physically alter the structure of the brain so that it no longer feels pain at the same level of intensity.

Hospital pain clinics now prescribe mindfulness meditation to help patients suffering from all kinds of diseases such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

Just like many other studies researching meditation benefits, you can see the results of meditation within a short time frame even if you’ve never done it before.

Advertising

Wake Forest University conducted a study that took 15 healthy participants and performed brain scans while inducing pain. A certified instructor took them through mindfulness meditation over the next four days and by the fifth day, there was about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity ratings while they were meditating compared to when they weren’t.[20]

14. Your ability of self-control goes up another level.

If you’ve ever found yourself giving into the temptations of eating that tub of ice cream when you’re on diet or lighting up that cigarette when you’re trying to quit, meditation might be the exact thing you need to give you that extra push of self-control.

In fact, meditation can even help people recover from various types of addictions. Meditation activates the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex which are the parts of your brain related to self-control.

One study showed that smokers who were assigned to do 5 hours of meditation spread over two weeks showed a 60% reduction in smoking compared to the smokers who didn’t meditate.[21]

15. You gain an overall sense of happiness up another level.

If you’ve ever experienced the pleasurable experience of the “runners high,” then you know what it feels like to have a release of endorphins in your brain. While endorphins are neurotransmitters that your body uses as a natural painkiller, it’s also responsible for the overall sense of happiness you sometimes feel.

When a study compared 11 elite runners and 12 highly trained meditators, results showed that both groups had noticeably elevated levels of endorphins after running and meditation. More interestingly, the pleasurable effects of endorphin release were measured in these groups and the meditation group scored higher.[22]

The easiest way to start meditating

On top of all these amazing meditation benefits, meditation is easy to do and you can actually do it right now.

Here’s a very straightforward and simple step-by step instructions that you can immediately implement to start experiencing the benefits of meditation:

  1. Set aside 5-10 minutes
  2. Find a safe space with little distractions.
  3. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor with your back straight.
  4. Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth
  5. Close your eyes or focus your gaze on the object you’ve chosen.
  6. Breathe normally and gently bring your focus to the breath.
  7. If your mind wanders, gently steer it back to focus on the breath.
  8. When finished, just take a moment to let the effects of your meditation feeling sink in before going about your day.

If you want some more live guidance or would love to learn more about meditation, Headspace is an amazing app that I use regularly. They do an amazing job of explaining what meditation is and walk you through how to do it even if you’re totally new to the concept.

The road to your best self

The ultimate solution to being happier in life isn’t to try and make things easier, but to make yourself stronger. Meditation will develop the mental strength you need and lift your mood.

Imagine yourself starting your day feeling ready and prepared to take on what comes. Stress keeps knocking on your door but you let it right in and send it right back on its way out.

You’re able to stay focused on what matters to you most and you feel intimately connected with yourself again. You feel like you’re in your prime. You’re no longer a mindless zombie who’s going through life in a daze. You’re finally living instead of just existing.

So take a moment, practice being present and soak it all in. You’ve now just figured out how to keep your life beautiful.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Web MD: What Is Executive Function?
[2]NCBI: Meditation, mindfulness and executive control: the importance of emotional acceptance and brain-based performance monitoring
[3]NCBI: Mindfulness Meditation Training for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adulthood: Current Empirical Support, Treatment Overview, and Future Directions
[4]Scientific American: What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?
[5]NCBI: A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Working Memory Capacity in Adolescents.
[6]Min Liu: How To Increase Your Verbal Fluency
[7]Science Direct: Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training
[8]Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America : Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation
[9]Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: The unique brain anatomy of meditation practitioners: alterations in cortical gyrification
[10]NCBI: Focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness meditation: effects on attention, conflict monitoring, and creativity – A review
[11]The Harvard Business Review: Can 10 Minutes of Meditation Make You More Creative?
[12]Huffington Post: “How Mindful Meditation Boosts Creativity and Innovation”
[13]Psychology Today: How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?
[14]Brainscape: 25 Facts About Your Gray Matter You Should Know
[15]Frontiers in Psychology: Forever Young(er): potential age-defying effects of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy
[16]Science Direct: Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility
[17]Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of Internal Medicine: Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being
[18]Psychology Today: Curing Depression with Mindfulness Meditation
[19]Psychology Today: Can Mindfulness Meditation Really Reduce Pain and Suffering?
[20]The Atlantic: Treating Chronic Pain With Meditation
[21]Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America: Brief meditation training induces smoking reduction
[22]EOC Institute: How Meditation Boosts Melatonin, Serotonin, GABA, DHEA, Endorphins, Growth Hormone, & More

Read Next