When you were a kid and went trick-or-treating, did you stress over what kind of candy you would get? Did you worry that your best friend would get more loot? And when you dumped out your bag, did you sigh, “I’m no good and no one likes me, that’s why I got all the bad stuff.”
Of course not! You enjoyed every care-free, self-indulgent minute of Halloween. As little goblins and hobos, we hadn’t learned to fill our lives with negative self talk.
Building on our earlier October blog, let’s take a few minutes during the remainder of Positive Attitude Month to look at how we can make an attitude adjustment.
What is Negative Self Talk?
Elizabeth Scott, M.S. describes negative self-talk as the “enemy in your head.” That is, the way we talk to ourselves, usually formed during childhood, can continue to color every experience like a ray of sunshine or a big dark cloud.
“Those whose self talk tends to be negative may attribute malevolent intent to others when none exists, interpret potentially positive events as negative or create a self-fulfilling prophecy by believing that their stress level is more than they can handle,” says Scott.
Seniors Can Learn Positive Self Talk
She adds that even those who habitually use negative self talk can learn positive self talk. Here are a few tips:
• Keep a journal – look at your feelings
• Positive affirmations – “I can try to make it work.”
• Surround yourself with positive energy
• Practice acting assertively, not aggressively
• Reduce stress – balance the demands on your time
Seniors Bring Positive Energy Into Their Lives
While negative self talk tends to perpetuate stress, positive self talk is a great way to reduce it. One way to maintain a positive frame of mind is to cultivate positive energy in your life. In an article about “focusing on positive thinking,” the Mayo Clinic staff adds a few suggestions to Scott’s list:
• Uplifting Music: Listening to music with a soothing melody with an uplifting message can be very helpful. Think of a favorite song that makes you feel good and try “playing” it over in your head when you feel down.
• Inspirational Books: Instead of wallowing in self-defeating thoughts, plug into books on strength, personal power and self help. Surround yourself with can-do concepts.
• Positive People: The company you keep is very important. Do your friends uplift you or bring you down? Do they offer perspective, humor, wisdom when you are lost, kindness? Good friends see the best in us and inspire us with their support. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
• Practice Affirmation: Saying positive things to ourselves sounds corny, but these subtle messages work. Instead of following old habits and feeling negative, try giving yourself a pep talk.
• Be open to humor: Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during tough times. Look for the humor in situations and laugh a lot. It reduces stress.
• Follow a healthy lifestyle: Take responsibility for your health. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Work on eating nutritious, satisfying foods and look for ways to manage stress.
• Practice Positive Self Talk: Follow this rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging!