How has your self-talk been lately? Yes, that self-talk — where you talk about yourself to yourself, either aloud or silently. It’s okay; you don’t have to be ashamed. We all talk to ourselves. In fact, I just had some inner dialogue with myself a few minutes ago. But is your self-talk positive, affirming, and uplifting, or are you negative most of the time?
Many of us are pretty critical with our self-talk. Consider the following inner statements:
“I’m not good enough to be in the same room with these people. I don’t belong here.”
“My opinion doesn’t matter. No one cares about me.”
“I really don’t know why my wife stays married to me. I’m inadequate.”
“I’m so stupid. I’ll never get it right.”
You might be thinking, “No harm, no foul. It’s not like I’m saying or thinking those things about other people, such as my spouse.” Well, yes and no. While our self-talk isn’t directed at anyone but ourselves (and most of the time, no one knows we are thinking it), it governs how we behave, feel, and act while also influencing what we say to others. In other words,
how we feel and think about ourselves can greatly influence our most intimate relationships.
“How you think is how you’re going to behave.” John Stickl
Thus, focusing more on our positive self-talk is an essential element to create healthier marriages.
When it comes to our marriage, the first place to start is with the heart. From there, we must look internally — taking personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions and practicing good self-care and self-talk.
For as a man thinks within himself, so he is — Proverbs 23:7 Self-Talk 101
Self-talk is normal. It tells us what to do and how to feel about events and situations. Our thought processes, such as how we view ourselves and others, and how we approach problems, have been programmed throughout our lives from our development, family interactions, experiences, relationships, knowledge, and other influences. Some of that programming is positive, but some of it is also very negative.
So while some of our self-talk helps us to be confident, motivated, productive, and even loving, we just as easily get caught in a loop of talking down to ourselves or replaying upsetting thoughts or events in our head. For many of us, the negative side of self-talk is so commonplace that we think, “It is what it is.” But ask yourself if you’d say the same thing to a friend, family member, or spouse. You probably wouldn’t — so why is it always okay to say it to yourself?
The quick answer is easy: it’s not okay. By having too much negative self-talk, it could be influencing how you:
- Remain happy or sad around others
- React in difficult situations with your spouse
- Talk to your spouse
- Accept or provide love and encouragement
- Give to others
- Forgive or hold grudges
- Build walls in your marriage
- Create or overstep boundaries
Ways to Improve your self-talk
Decide what you will focus on — Will what you say and think about yourself be positive things or negative things? Positive minds are always full of hope and also more confidence.
Listen and replace — Pay attention to your self-talk and call yourself out every time you think negatively about yourself. This can be as easy as carrying around a small notebook to write down the negative statements. Once you do that, practice reframing those statements. Instead of, “I can’t get all of that done. It’s impossible,” you can say, “It’s a lot to get done all at once, but I’ll take it one step at a time.”
Affirm yourself — To piggyback off the previous tip, what do you tell yourself all day long? Think of your strengths. What are the roles you play so well (great parent, teacher, worker, etc.)? What positive characteristics make you who you are?
Don’t compare yourself to others — “I will never be as good as she is.” It is very dangerous to compare yourself to others. It’s an assault on your self-worth, so stop. Instead, focus on being the best version of yourself. Live your life and be happy for who you are and what you have. You are created differently and uniquely.
Be grateful — We wrote an entire blog post on being grateful. Instead of focusing on all the bad things in our life or creating all this wildly crazy self-talk, we should be scanning our world and ourselves for what is going good. Maybe its time to make that grateful list?
Surround yourself with positive thinkers — If you’re constantly finding that you have negative self-talk, surround yourself with positive people. Just like negative people drag us down, positive people who practice quality self-talk lift us up and can even help us reprogram our self-talk from negative to positive.
All we are saying is that your self-talk has more of an effect on you and the people around you than you think. In fact, Dr. Charles Stanley once said,
“We are the product of our thinking, so it is important that we choose carefully where to focus our mental energy.”
Dr. Charles Stanley
This is great advice, and you should do all you can to put it into practice now.
Our heart is devoted to caring about people and marriages!
Our heart is devoted to caring about people. We want to ensure you have the tools to cherish each other’s heart and listen to it when it’s talking to you. The best way we know how to do that is by spreading the word to more people and let them know that we are here.
What do you think? What are some ways you are trying to improve your self-talk? How has that benefitted your marriage? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.