In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of self-care and trying not to be too hard on ourselves on a day to day basis. But, over the last few months, I’ve been humbly reminded that there is a lot more involved in self-care than just physical wellness. To be more specific, I’ve been reminded of the importance of the ways in which we speak to ourselves… our self-talk, as it were.
Self-talk sounds a bit like the name of an avant-garde pop group, but in actuality is a lot less exciting and thus, often forgotten. In this post, I don’t want to get into the intricate clinical definitions, but instead I want to share some of my thoughts about self-talk and the impact that it can have on our day-to-day mental health.
I used to always think that self-talk was synonymous with thoughts. I assumed that whatever I was thinking was what I was saying to myself. But, over the years, I’ve come to realize that, for me, self-talk is a lot more intentional. Just as I wouldn’t say all of my thoughts out loud to those around me (if I’ve learned anything from the movie What Women Want), I also don’t actually say all of my thoughts to myself. I know this sounds confusing, but the central thesis here is that just having thoughts about ourselves is not enough, no matter how positive they may be.
To me, it’s all about engaging in a relationship with ourselves. One that is supportive, forgiving, challenging and positive. What does that mean when it comes to talking to ourselves? First, it definitely means many different things that will take shape differently for each person. But I’ll try to boil it down to a few highlights in hopes of geting everyone as excited about self-talk as they would be if it actually was a hip new band.
1) Actually SPEAK to yourself.
All thanks to Bluetooth and headphones, talking to yourself doesn’t look as absurd as it used to back in the day. So embrace it. When you are building this exciting new relationship with yourself, say it out loud. Just as mindfulness and meditation training encourages people to repeat a mantra to themselves, I encourage you to speak up when engaging in self-talk. Yes, it’ll feel weird, but it makes the words ring much more truthfully. For example, one of my favourite things to say to myself is, “You are enough”. And oddly enough, it feels so much more real if I say it out loud than if I just think it.
2) Get into quotes in a real way.
I can already feel my friends rolling their eyes as they read this. Yes, I know, I’m nauseating when it comes to quotes. But, in my defense, they make it a lot easier to nail this self-talk thing when you’re having a rough day. When you feel like crap, it’s hard to talk to yourself in a positive and supportive way. So, on those days, I suggest hitting up Pinterest or Instagram for some pre-packaged pick-me-ups to beef up your self-talk bank. And don’t worry, your secret will be safe with me.
3) Practice makes perfect.
It’s no secret that the more you practice something, the better you’ll get. Self-talk is no different. Make a point to practice it on a daily basis. While you’re in the shower, on your way home from work, or right before bed – whenever works best for you. Make a point to have a quit self chit-chat every day and before you know it you’ll be in a pretty awesome relationship with yourself and building essential skills for your mental wellness as you go.
Before I finish, I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t leave you with some of my favourite pre-packaged sound bites that I use on days when I’m not in the mood to be a great self-talker…
About Kathryn Christie
As an HR Consultant with a deep passion for Mental Health, Kathryn spends her days pushing paper and her nights volunteering with the Canadian Mental Health Association as a co-facilitator of the Family and Caregiver Education program. Her passion extends beyond the realm of her volunteer work which has brought her to Healthy Minds Canada to share stories, support and inspiration with her community.