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Last Updated on October 10, 2018

15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success

15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success

“You live the words you tell yourself in your mind.” — Dr. Magdalena Battles

Self-talk is the act of talking to yourself either aloud or mentally. No matter good or bad, these are the messages that you are telling yourself all day long about 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 feel insecure about your interactions with others.

Version two of self-talk allows you to give yourself a pass to try again, to just be human and interact with others. 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.

Here are 15 tips to help you provide yourself with good, positive self talk for success:

1. 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.”[1]

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.

For example, if you believe that God (or any higher power) is good and loves you, then your feelings toward yourself will be kinder. You were created by a higher being who made you for a purpose. When you believe this in your heart you are more apt to believe in yourself and pursue the positive things that you are created for in life.

When you feel that you have purpose, you focus on the positive reasons for which you were created to pursue and accomplish.

2. 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.

3. 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:[2]

“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 daily helps to improve your attitude, which will help you have better, more positive self-talk..

One way to practice gratitude is by starting a gratitude journal. Use it to write the things you are grateful each day.

Some of the things will big and some will be small. This will help you focus on the good things that are happening in your life, even if it was something as simple as seeing a rainbow or spending time walking and talking with a friend.

The expression of your gratitude in a journal makes these emotions and experiences more tangible. You are helping yourself focus on the goodness in your life.

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It doesn’t need to be a long winded journal either. You can simply start by finding a notebook and jotting down 3-5 things at the end of each day that are grateful for on that particular day.

4. Don’t compare yourself to others

When you are constantly comparing what you lack to what others 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.

For example, you may have a casual friend who is always getting a new vehicle every two years. They are always top of line, beautiful vehicles. You, on the other hand, are driving a ten year old minivan. You have kids the same age, the same educational background, and you both are married to successful husbands. You compare yourself to what she has and wonder why you can’t also have a new vehicle each year.

What you don’t know is that she and her husband have a large amount of debt. They do not live within their means and have planned very little for their retirement. You and your husband have been very responsible in your spending and retirement planning.

It is not wise to compare yourself to this woman or anyone else, because you likely don’t know the whole story.

You can always find others who are better off than you or worse off than you. It’s more important to concentrate on yourself and on being grateful for your own life.

Live your life and stop making any comparisons.

5. Use positive words with others

If we are negative with our words with others, then we are likely to be negative 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.

For example, when you get to work in the morning, do you start your first conversation by complaining about all the things that went wrong with your morning? Or are you grateful that the sun is shining and that you have a job to pay the bills and you express these sentiments to your co-workers?

What comes out of your month can be positive or it can be negative. The choice is up to you. If you chose the negative it will not bring about anything positive for your day or life.

Another example is how we treat our loved ones. Do you constantly nag or find fault in your spouse or partner? Or do you focus on the positives and speak encouraging words to them?

If you find yourself focusing on the dishes sitting in the sink, them leaving wet towels on the floor, and them failing to walk the dog once again, you will speak these words to your loved one.

When you speak words of negativity, nagging, and fault to your loved ones, they begin to feel negative around you. Their response to you is likely not going to be positive. They will probably respond with a negative remark such as “you always nag me” or “you never help with the laundry.” Thus begins a pattern of negativity.

If you can let the little things go and instead focus on the positive and use uplifting words, your home life will be much happier. For example, say “thank you for taking out the trash” and “thank you for helping put the kids to bed”. Even if you expect them to do these things, it still feels good to get a compliment and words of praise. These positive words will bring positive words in return and likely more positive actions from them.

Your relationships will become more positive because of your focus on their positive actions. Your willingness to take the time to recognize these things and verbally provide praise and thanks will enhance your relationships.

Positivity breeds positivity, and negativity breeds negativity. Choose the positive for yourself and others.

6. 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.

For instance, if you go into a workout class and have already told yourself that you won’t be able to complete it, then you will indeed fail. You are setting yourself up for failure when you go into a situation telling yourself mentally that you can’t or won’t be able to complete the task at hand.

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Commit to telling yourself that you can do it. Even if you have to modify your movements to keep going, tell yourself that you will not quit. Tell yourself that one way or another you will get the job done.

You need to tell yourself you can do what needs to be done and you can succeed at whatever you put your mind to. If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will?

7. 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 of many examples who failed many times before finally succeeding: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

Don’t allow fear to hold you back from trying. Tell yourself you can keep trying if you do fail!

For example, if you bomb on a work project, don’t tell yourself you are a failure. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to learn a new way to go at the project and to grow in your skill set.

Don’t take the failure and accept it. Instead, reframe the experience as an opportunity for more growth and development of whatever job you may be doing.

Don’t throw out your previous work because someone rejected it. You may need it later. Set it to the side and save it for future reference. You never know when that project that didn’t worked for that instance may work for another.

Your efforts are not in vain if you look at a failure as an opportunity to try again and take a fresh approach.

8. 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 have a tendency to tell yourself that you are fat, you will feel fat and bad about the way you appear. If you aren’t fat, then stop telling yourself this message!

If you are overweight but are working to improve your physical health, then focus on those thoughts. When it pops into your mind that you look fat as you wash your hands at the bathroom mirror, replace those thoughts immediately. Instead, tell yourself that you are working to make positive changes in your physique and are making strides in being healthier every day.

Tell yourself that you are pleased with yourself because you are making efforts daily to improve that which you see needs improvement. Say “job well done” when you get your workouts done. Give yourself a mental pat on the back and feel good about what you are doing for yourself.

Focus on what you are doing to change what you don’t like about yourself or your life. If the message that you are feeding yourself is false, then stop. Replace the thoughts with correct messages such as “I am fit, in shape, and I should be proud of how hard I have worked to get to my physical fitness level”.

Be positive when negative thoughts creep into your mind. Doing so will help you find the motivation to try again in the future.

If you concentrate on the negative, you are mentally holding yourself back from trying again.

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.

Here are some examples that you can post on your bathroom mirror today, just use some sticky notes:

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  • I am adventurous and I am embrace all that life has to offer.
  • I feed my spirit daily.
  • I am in charge of how I feel today.
  • I am grateful for…
  • I will choose happiness and gratitude today.
  • I am special and unique, nobody else in the world is exactly like me.
  • I am proud of myself for…
  • I show love to myself and others daily in all that I do.
  • I find joy in all situations.
  • I am kind to others and to myself.
  • I am of value and have purpose in this world.

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.

For example, imagine that you are in a new relationship after going through a divorce or bad breakup. You harbor ill feelings toward your ex because they cheated on you. You have the right to be angry, but there comes a time to move forward.

Put the past in the past. Don’t bring up your ex every time you watch a movie that involves infidelity. Don’t bring up your ex and their wrongs on a regular basis. Doing so is bringing your ex into your current relationship. Your current spouse or partner didn’t sign up for you and another person in tow.

Leave your baggage at the door. Don’t speak the words about your past when they aren’t necessary. Doing so keeps them going and gives them new life.

Don’t provide breathe and space in your life for the negative things of your past. Focus on moving forward and the new relationship that you do have.

Centralize on the fact that you were strong enough to move forward and embrace your future.

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.

For example, if you want to run ten miles today envision the beginning, middle, and end. Think about how you will prepare for your run. Think about what it will feel like as you get going and how you plan to push through the tough moments you will have on your run.

Strategize about what you will tell yourself to keep yourself going when times to get tough. Also, think about how you will react when things get tough, and tell yourself that you will push through, even when it gets really difficult.

Then envision yourself finishing your run and how you will feel once you completed your goal. Visualize the entire process and how you get to your success. This will help you when you get to the actual run because you have thought about your commitment to that success and what it takes to get there.

You have also created strategies for pushing through any bumps in the road to keep yourself going. You are committed to not quitting.

Envisioning the entire run, which includes the difficulties, will help you get to the end goal which is successful completion of the 10 miles.

Visualizing helps you think positively about your situation and encourages you to see that your vision of success is possible.

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.

For example, if you have made it a habit of listening to a news station on your commute, you may want to change that habit.

Filling your hour long commute with all that is wrong in the world will not help you start your day out right. Instead, listen to a news station that provides a quick recap of the news. Spend only a small percentage of your commute listening to the news. The remainder of the time you can listen to an audio book that is uplifting or helping you become a better version of yourself.

Putting a limit on the amount of time for your news intake can help you focus more time and energy on other positive activities.

When you do listen to the news remind yourself there are lots of positive things happening in the world too, but they just aren’t often put on the news.

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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 and improve your mental health.

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.

For example, on your way to work, hold the door open for others. Smile at those who are looking to make eye contact. You can also buy a cup of coffee for a co-worker, genuinely compliment people on their appearance. Or you can let someone who looks super rushed ahead of you in line.

The list is almost endless of the kind things you can do for others on a daily basis. Start looking for ways that you can help others see the bright side of life.

You can be a light in the world and some of these people may otherwise only be feeling and experiencing darkness. Your light can make a difference in the world.

14. Be physically active

There are a great many benefits to becoming active; such benefits include increased creativity, reduced anxiety, improved self-confidence, reduced stress, increase in happy brain chemicals and more.[3]

All of these factors will help with your ability to practice 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.

Think you’re too busy to exercise? Here’re 5 ways to find time for exercise.

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 become more positive about your abilities and skills that help you achieve 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.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] National Study of Youth Religion: Sociologists Find that Religious Teens Are More Positive About Life
[2] Psychology Today: The Grateful Today
[3] Greatist: Benefits of Exercise

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Last Updated on April 24, 2019

The Key to Happiness and Leading a Fulfilling Life

The Key to Happiness and Leading a Fulfilling Life

If I ask you “what is happiness?”, then what would your answer be? It’s probably difficult to come up with a simple answer. Yet, here you are, looking for a key to happiness and how to lead a fulfilling life.

The truth is that a universal key to happiness is a myth.

That doesn’t mean that you should stop looking for yours right now, it only means that you need to be careful when reading articles about “a key to happiness”. The universal key to happiness is non-existent because happiness is one of the most difficult things in life to define.

How Do You Define Happiness?

Now, let’s go back to that difficult question: “what is happiness?”

Have you thought about it already? Let me give you an example of how hard it is to define happiness.

Right now, I’m drinking a cup of coffee while writing the outline of this article about how to define happiness. Am I happy right now? Yes, I’m feeling pretty happy:

  • I’ve got nothing to worry about.
  • All my basic needs are met.
  • My family, friends, and girlfriend are all happy as well.
  • The weather is nice.
  • I’m going outside in a couple of minutes to go for a walk.

These things are all making me feel pretty happy right now.

By that logic, let’s define my happiness as follows:

“Happiness is when I’m in a worry-free state, the weather is nice, everybody I know is alright and I can enjoy a hot cup of coffee.”

Voila. There it is. My definition of happiness.

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The keys to my happiness are obvious now, and I know enough in order to lead the happiest life I can. I just need to focus on the things I listed above.

Your Definition of Happiness Changes over Time

Wait a second… If it were this simple, then why have I ever been unhappy?

You might have guessed it already, but I made a very simple error. I assumed that what makes me happy today will make me happy for the rest of my life. And that’s just wrong.

Happiness is something that not only changes from person to person, but it’s also constantly evolving from day to day. This is why happiness is such a difficult concept, and why there’s not a single “key to happiness”.

Whoever tells you otherwise is likely not aware that people change, and that people don’t always share the same values, goals, and purposes.

How to Find the Key to Happiness

1. Define What Happiness Means to You!

For a minute, I want you to do consider your own happiness. I want you to think back of last week, and consider what things you did that had a positive effect on your happiness.

What things had a significant influence on your mood? What comes to your mind?

Was it spending time with your friends? Was it a great movie you watched? Did you attend an exciting sports event? Or did you enjoy sipping hot coffee on a sunny Wednesday morning? It could obviously be just about anything!

It’s important to realize that all these things were part of your “key to happiness”. Your happiness was defined by these things, and you just measured a small part of that.

Does that mean you now know all the answers? Do you now know how to live the rest of your life? No. But you do know what things made you happy last week, and that’s very useful information when determining your own definition of happiness to build on.

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If you consciously keep track of what factors determine your happiness, then you are more likely to find out just how much your definition of happiness can vary from time to time. This knowledge can help you find your key to happiness.

A Personal Example

You see, even though happiness is claimed to be the factor of life that’s the most difficult to measure, you can still measure how you define your own happiness each day. It’s simple.

For me personally, when I think back of last weekend, I remember that I really enjoyed spending time with my girlfriend, walking through the woods on a sunny day and just relaxing (a.k.a. doing nothing!)

These are happiness factors that were a vital part of my happiness definition this weekend. I had just survived a long and busy week at work, so I was really trying to find some easy enjoyment. The things that I did this weekend were perfect for the occasion, as it was a very happy day for me.

If you were to ask me what the key to my happiness was that weekend, I’d give you the following answer:

To spend quality time with my girlfriend, being able to enjoy the good weather while being carefree and relaxed.

While this is unlikely to be the key to your happiness for the rest of your life, it is a pretty good start.

You can do exactly the same. All you need to do is to define your own happiness from day to day.

2. Find Your Purpose in Life

The next step to determining your key to happiness is to determine the things that give you purpose. You will live a fulfilling life when you’re happily tracking towards a purpose. Something that you’re passionate about.

Let’s use the previous example of my key to happiness. Will I be happy for the rest of my life when I focus exclusively on a relaxed and carefree feeling? Probably not, because it will not lead to a very fulfilling life. Not for me, at least.

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There are some things that drive my actions in a much bigger sense than only my daily, short-term happiness. For some people, that purpose could be:

  • To take care of a loving family
  • To build a successful company
  • To climb the highest mountains
  • To be rich and famous

You have to find out what your purpose in life is in order to truly determine your key to happiness. Only then will you be able to define a sustainable plan that will make you both happy and fulfilled.

It’s important to know that you can find your purpose only when trying out new things. This is a crucial part of finding your key to happiness. You can’t read an article online (like this one) and suddenly learn about what your key to happiness is!

The same thing goes for finding your purpose. You can’t expect to find your purpose without trying new things. People stumble upon their purpose in life in lots of different ways.[1]

Combine Your Purpose in Life with the Keys to Your Happiness in Order to Lead a Fulfilling Life

Now, this might sound like a mouthful.

A purpose in life x keys to your happiness = fulfilling life?

It’s actually really simple. Let’s take the following example:

I’ve found that my purpose in life is to become the CEO of a great and powerful charity (I know, I know…)

I feel a purpose and sense of accomplishment when working towards these goals. However, should I therefore sacrifice everything in my life in order to reach that purpose? Should I work 100 hours a week, disregard any relationships and use sleep medication just to fall asleep under the stress?

Nope. If I do that, I might reach my purpose, but I won’t still be happy.

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However, if I spend the rest of my life similar to how I spent my last weekend (enjoying the sun and walking through the forest) I will also miss long-term happiness. That’s because I won’t feel like my life has a purpose.

Your key to happiness and the purpose of your life need to compliment each other. They need to be in balance.

3. Destination = Happiness = Journey

You’ve probably heard the saying:

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination”.

Think of the destination as your purpose, and think of the journey as the things you do that make you happy (the keys to your happiness).

You can’t spend your life running (or sprinting) towards your destination, because you’ll forget to enjoy the journey.

At the same time, you can’t head out on your journey without having a destination in mind.

That’s why I believe your happiness is a product of both the journey and the destination.

Or in other words, you need to combine your purpose in life with the keys to your happiness in order to lead a fulfilling life. This will allow you to create a road map – a specific and concise plan – that will help you determine how to best lead your life. If you’ve done that, you’re ready to steer your life in the best direction possible!

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to remember when trying to define your keys to a happy and fulfilling life is simple:

There is no universal key that leads to your happiness. That’s because your happiness is unique in each and every single way. What you can do is:

  • Realize that you can define the factors that make you happy.
  • Know that your happiness – and the factors that influence it – change over time, and so will your “key to happiness”.
  • Find out what your purpose in life is. You can only do this by trying out many things. You can’t learn this from simple reading an article!
  • Combine your purpose and the things that make you happy in order to get the best idea of how to steer your life in the best direction possible!

Featured photo credit: Sam Manns via unsplash.com

Reference

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