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Ask Dr. Zoe – How Can You Change Your Self-Talk?

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‘Krista’ Asked:

How do you change self talk. How do you train the voice that is constantly speaking to you to SPEAK POSITIVE. Is there a way to retrain that voice?

Dr. Zoe Answered:

100 times yes! This is my absolute favorite area to work on with clients. Your self-talk is not who you are. It is not a function of your personality and you were not born with it.

Your self-talk develops over a period of time, often in your childhood. It’s essentially an agreement between what the world tells you about who you are and what you decide to take on as your own.

Your self-talk feeds the lens through which you see yourself and the whole world, so you are making the right choice to address it and change it.

Transforming your self-talk doesn’t happen overnight, but it is completely possible if you are diligent about taking the steps to make the change.

There are 6 steps to transforming your self-talk:

1. Track it.

Take a week and write down all the things that you say to yourself—especially when you notice you are having an emotional reaction. For example, when you are overwhelmed and need some help, you may find yourself saying: “It’s better to just do it myself.”

2. Explore it.

Ask yourself what your statement means and where it came from. Maybe explore the first time you noticed you had that thought. Example: “I was 8 years old and I asked my mom for help with my school project and she forgot to help me and I got an F. My mom was often busy and wasn’t always available when I needed help. I guess I learned that I couldn’t rely on anyone else but myself. I felt like it was dangerous to ask for help because I would just be disappointed and hurt.”

What your self-talk is really doing is reminding you in a not so helpful way that asking for help could lead to being hurt. That’s why “it’s better to do just do it yourself.”

3. Create specific opposite language.

Example: “Asking for help is a safe, healthy, and self-loving act. I can do it myself, but I am strong enough to rely on others as well.” This is called an affirmation. Your words will resonate with you the most, so use your own words, not mine.

4. Speak it.

Write down your positive affirmation and say it 10 times per day and any other time that you notice the negative self-talk.

5. Maintain it.

Don’t evaluate whether it’s working. I promise that doing it for a few days or a few weeks will not create huge changes for you. But if you are consistent over months, you will start to notice a change. Think about your affirmation like vitamins or eating your vegetables. The benefits are experienced over time.

A rule of thumb for transforming your self-talk is to work on speaking to yourself the way that you would talk to a good friend. Your wouldn’t put her down or tell her how unattractive, stupid, unwanted, or unloved she is. Many of us regularly speak those words to ourselves and that is unacceptable. Become your bully defender and don’t let yourself speak to yourself that way!

6.Re-visit.

Every six months, check in with yourself by tracking your self-talk again and see if anything different emerges. Adjust your positive affirmations as a result.

This one article may not be all you need to dive deep into this work, but it’s a great first step. Keep reading and check out my self-talk course for more help.

You’ve got this, my friend. It just takes a little grit and grace!

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Dr. Zoe is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert who recently jumped out of a perfectly good plane just for the experience.

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