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Alcohol and Mental Health

Why Positive Self-Talk Matters (and How To Improve Yours)

Published:
October 26, 2023
·
6 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
October 26, 2023
·
6 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
October 26, 2023
·
6 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
October 26, 2023
·
6 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
October 26, 2023
·
6 min read

How many times have you said something like this: “Ugh, I can never do anything right!” “How could I screw up like that again?” “I’m worthless.”

Chances are you’ve spoken negatively to yourself a lot. We all have. It’s a common human tendency to focus on our flaws and berate ourselves for every little mistake. However, while we think we might be doing ourselves a favor through this tough love, it’s actually holding us back. 

So how can we reframe our self-talk to be more encouraging and less demoralizing? We’ve got a few helpful tips!

What Is Positive Self-Talk? Why Does It Matter?

Self-talk is the ongoing dialogue we have with ourselves, the narratives that constantly play in the back of our minds. These narratives can be empowering or debilitating, and they significantly influence how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings, our experiences, and our actions.

Positive self-talk becomes particularly crucial when navigating significant life transitions, such as changing our drinking habits, which demands substantial mental strength and resilience. Extensive research supports the fact that positive self-talk can enhance our self-confidence, uplift our mood, decrease stress, and improve our overall performance and sense of well-being.

That said, cultivating a positive inner dialogue doesn’t happen overnight. It requires practice and consistency. Here are four science-backed ways to foster and improve positive self-talk.

1. Awareness of Self-Talk

The initial step towards improving our self-talk is developing awareness. Recognizing the negative narratives that often dominate our minds — such as "I can't resist a drink," or "I'm too weak" — is fundamental. By becoming conscious of these damaging thoughts, we set the stage for challenging and changing them into constructive narratives like, "I'm stronger than my cravings."

Science-backed techniques for improving positive self-talk
2. Challenge and Change Negative Thoughts

Cognitive restructuring, a central technique in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be invaluable in challenging negative thoughts. When a destructive thought emerges, like "I'll never succeed," we must interrogate its validity. Searching for objective evidence that disputes the negative thought allows us to replace it with a more balanced perspective: "Yes, I've stumbled before, but I've also had victories. I can learn and grow from my missteps."

3. Practice Affirmations

Affirmations are potent, positive statements that can help us counteract and overcome negative thoughts. Studies suggest that affirmations can enhance our problem-solving abilities, especially under stress. When we affirm ourselves, saying things like, "I am in control of my choices," or "I am committed to my health," we're rewriting the negative scripts in our minds with ones that promote resilience and confidence.

4. Visualize Success

Visualization involves mentally picturing ourselves successfully completing a task — in this case, resisting the urge to drink. Research has found visualization an effective tool for improving performance and achieving goals. As we visualize ourselves successfully navigating social events without a drink or enjoying a peaceful evening with a cup of tea instead of a glass of wine, we begin to believe in our capacity to make these images a reality.

Positive Self-Talk: Key Takeaways

A journey of a thousand miles does, indeed, begin with the very first step. In the context of positive self-talk, the first step is recognizing the power of our thoughts. Gradually, as we become more adept at monitoring, challenging, and changing our self-talk, we'll notice a shift in our perspectives and our responses to life's challenges. 

Every thought we think is a step towards or away from our goal. Let's make those steps count!

How many times have you said something like this: “Ugh, I can never do anything right!” “How could I screw up like that again?” “I’m worthless.”

Chances are you’ve spoken negatively to yourself a lot. We all have. It’s a common human tendency to focus on our flaws and berate ourselves for every little mistake. However, while we think we might be doing ourselves a favor through this tough love, it’s actually holding us back. 

So how can we reframe our self-talk to be more encouraging and less demoralizing? We’ve got a few helpful tips!

What Is Positive Self-Talk? Why Does It Matter?

Self-talk is the ongoing dialogue we have with ourselves, the narratives that constantly play in the back of our minds. These narratives can be empowering or debilitating, and they significantly influence how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings, our experiences, and our actions.

Positive self-talk becomes particularly crucial when navigating significant life transitions, such as changing our drinking habits, which demands substantial mental strength and resilience. Extensive research supports the fact that positive self-talk can enhance our self-confidence, uplift our mood, decrease stress, and improve our overall performance and sense of well-being.

That said, cultivating a positive inner dialogue doesn’t happen overnight. It requires practice and consistency. Here are four science-backed ways to foster and improve positive self-talk.

1. Awareness of Self-Talk

The initial step towards improving our self-talk is developing awareness. Recognizing the negative narratives that often dominate our minds — such as "I can't resist a drink," or "I'm too weak" — is fundamental. By becoming conscious of these damaging thoughts, we set the stage for challenging and changing them into constructive narratives like, "I'm stronger than my cravings."

Science-backed techniques for improving positive self-talk
2. Challenge and Change Negative Thoughts

Cognitive restructuring, a central technique in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be invaluable in challenging negative thoughts. When a destructive thought emerges, like "I'll never succeed," we must interrogate its validity. Searching for objective evidence that disputes the negative thought allows us to replace it with a more balanced perspective: "Yes, I've stumbled before, but I've also had victories. I can learn and grow from my missteps."

3. Practice Affirmations

Affirmations are potent, positive statements that can help us counteract and overcome negative thoughts. Studies suggest that affirmations can enhance our problem-solving abilities, especially under stress. When we affirm ourselves, saying things like, "I am in control of my choices," or "I am committed to my health," we're rewriting the negative scripts in our minds with ones that promote resilience and confidence.

4. Visualize Success

Visualization involves mentally picturing ourselves successfully completing a task — in this case, resisting the urge to drink. Research has found visualization an effective tool for improving performance and achieving goals. As we visualize ourselves successfully navigating social events without a drink or enjoying a peaceful evening with a cup of tea instead of a glass of wine, we begin to believe in our capacity to make these images a reality.

Positive Self-Talk: Key Takeaways

A journey of a thousand miles does, indeed, begin with the very first step. In the context of positive self-talk, the first step is recognizing the power of our thoughts. Gradually, as we become more adept at monitoring, challenging, and changing our self-talk, we'll notice a shift in our perspectives and our responses to life's challenges. 

Every thought we think is a step towards or away from our goal. Let's make those steps count!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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