That Little Voice Inside Your Head

What does the little voice inside YOUR head say?

Shakespeare said:

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

The truth of this can be seen when you look at your own self-talk patterns and the effect they are having on your body.

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have in living healthy. It is more powerful than exercise, food and any other thing you may have tried. Why? Because your mind controls everything you do.

The mind controls what we are unconsciously and consciously thinking. These thoughts spark emotions inside of you, which then drive your actions. Your actions and behaviours then reinforce your initial thoughts, as well as new ones.

So your mind strongly influences the choices you make, and can actually play against you when trying to actively change behaviours, such as eating healthy and exercise habits for weight loss and fitness.

What is that Voice Inside My Head?

Ever feel like your mind is much like the movie “Inside Out“?

The voice you may sometimes hear in the background of your mind is called Self-Talk. It is an internal dialogue everyone has going in their head, reciting between 150 and 300 words a minute.

Some people hear their self-talk more than others. Self-talk messages are based on your current mood, and can be positive or negative.

Increased repetitiveness of self-talk messages usually indicates the importance of that message. This persistence can affect your responses, attitudes and behaviours.

Positive Self-Talk

Self-talk is actually one of the most effective forms of cognitive coping with setbacks in life, as long as it’s positive, with words like ‘want’, ‘can’ and ‘will’. When your voice inside your head is talking positively, it is considering bad things as temporary and seeing them as isolated. For example, “The weather caused it”, “That was a rough couple of hours”, and “That wasn’t so great, but I can do better next time.” It is also considering good things to be permanent changes, for example, “I’ve done well with this; now I know how to do it.”

Positive self-talk elevates:

  • – mood
  • – self-esteem
  • – self-worth
  • – self-confidence
  • – mental toughness
  • – effort put towards an activity
  • – feelings of preparation

Positive self-talk also decreases anxiety and stress.

Negative Self-Talk

That voice inside your head always seems to have something negative to say. You often hear words like ‘can’t’, ‘sorry’, ‘should’, ‘must’, ‘hope’ and ‘maybe’. You seem to concentrate a lot on your mistakes, and immediately interpret criticisms and comments negatively.

You tend to see all the bad things that happen to you as permanent, and frequently generalise them to other aspects of your life, for example, “I screwed up again; I always screw up; I’m not good at anything.” You also see the good things in your life as temporary, for example, “Exercising is fun, for now; I’ll probably get over it soon.”

Negative self-talk can lead you to concentrate on your mistakes, rather than what is needed to correct or improve performance, and negatively interpret criticisms and comments.

4 Ways to Encourage Positive Self-Talk

Here are 4 key strategies to counteract or change the negative messages being sent by your mind to be more positive:

  1. 1)  reminding yourself of past, related events where you were successful in achieving something
  2. 2) reminding yourself of all the skills you have to perform well with
  3. 3) quickly interrupting thoughts with a verbal phrase like “I Reject It”, or a tactile reaction like flicking a rubber band on your wrist, then replacing the thought with something positive
  4. 4) daily practice of positive affirmations, such as “I am a strong, beautiful woman and a great mum” or “I am doing a great job”

More on Affirmations

Affirmations are positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts. Practicing affirmations can be extremely simple, and all you need to do is pick a phrase and repeat it to yourself. They are designed to encourage an optimistic mindset – and optimism in itself is a powerful thing.

You may choose to use affirmations to motivate yourself, encourage positive changes in your life, or boost your self-esteem. If you frequently find yourself getting caught up in negative self-talk, positive affirmations can be used to combat these often subconscious patterns and replace them.

Affirmations require regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel. There are, however, no hard and fast rules about timing or frequency when it comes to practicing affirmations.

Looking for some ideas to create your own affirmations? Here are some nice examples:

  • – I choose to be happy
  • – My life is taking place right here, right now
  • – I’m gifted with and surrounded by amazing friends and family
  • – I opt to rise above negative feelings and ditch negative thoughts
  • – I am resilient, strong, and brave, and I can’t be destroyed
  • – Nobody but me decides how I feel
  • – When I lie down to sleep, everything is as it should be, and I rest content
  • – I am in charge of my thoughts, and I don’t judge myself
  • – I accept and love myself, thoroughly and completely

Remember! Your mind is a powerful machine, capable of influencing each emotion you feel and action you take in life. But reconfiguring the machine is not impossible; knowing how to do it and practicing regularly is the key to achieving your own healthy living goals.