The Benefits of Positive Thinking & Positive Self-Talk
INTRODUCTION: Today at Be Active Maternity we are talking about positive thinking and positive self-talk. What it is, how it works and answers to some of the most popular questions about positive thinking and self-talk.
Read on to find out more!
Questions we will address in this blog...
- Why is positive self-talk so important?
- How do I stop my negative self-talk?
- What exactly is positive self-talk?
- How do I practice positive self-talk?
- What are some practical ways to practice positive thinking & positive self-talk? (e.g. sticky notes, messages to yourself, notes on the fridge, the mirror, etc.)
- What if I’m still feeling down, no matter what I try?
Intro to Positive Thinking
We can’t always control what happens in our lives… in fact, most of the time there will be at least some aspect of every situation that we can’t control.
The good news is that we are able to control one thing... the way we react in each situation and our own perspective in life.
Controlling our response and our emotions is definitely easier said than done.
Instinctively, when I hear that I can control my response, I want to argue. I want to argue that the situation I’m in is too difficult and I can’t.
But I CAN. And YOU CAN too!
One of the ways we can control our response to situations is with positive thinking.
Did you know, our thoughts can have an impact on our health? This can affect us negatively or positively, depending on how we think.
It can be incredibly challenging during pregnancy and postpartum to maintain a positive outlook on life and our situation.
We are bombarded with hormones and emotions that make us cry at a moment's notice. We may be struggling with nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, aching backs, hips and breasts, and the list goes on.
When you pair that with sleepless nights, sore bodies and a crying newborn who seems to need us 24/7, it can seem impossible to think positively!
The challenges you are facing are real. There’s no doubt about that.
Maternity and motherhood are undoubtedly challenging.
But if you’re struggling to find anything positive in your situation, here are some good motivators to work towards positivity.
Why is positive thinking and positive self-talk so important?
Did you know? Positive self-talk can provide you with health benefits, such as:
- Lower rates of depression
- “Greater life satisfaction
- Reduced pain
- Improved immune function
- Less stress and distress
- Better physical well-being
- Increased vitality
- Better cardiovascular health”
- Better coping skills during times of stress and hardship
If it still seems like too challenging of a task to think positively about everything, let’s start on the other side with ridding our lives of the negative self-talk we’ve become so accustomed to.
How do I stop my negative self-talk?
We may not even realize how often we put ourselves down. Sometimes it can become so commonplace in our lives that we don’t even notice we are doing it anymore.
Before we can replace our negative thoughts with positive ones, we need to recognize what our negative thoughts are.
These are some of the negative thought patterns we might be struggling with:
- Blaming yourself for everything (e.g. It’s all my fault… I should have known better…)
- Focusing only on the negatives of a situation and ignoring the positives (e.g. Things NEVER work out for me…)
- Expecting the worst (e.g. It’s probably not going to happen…)
- Seeing everything as extremes - all good or all bad, with no middle ground (e.g. I can’t do anything right…)
Once you’ve recognized where you struggle with negative thinking, you can begin to work on changing it to positive thinking. For example:
Negative: I failed and embarrassed myself.
Positive: I’m proud of myself for trying. That took courage.
Negative: I’m overweight and out of shape. I might as well not bother.
Positive: I am capable and strong, and I want to get healthier for me.
Negative: I’ve never done this before and I’ll be bad at it.
Positive: This is a wonderful opportunity for me to learn from others and grow.
Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can stop them in their tracks.
You can also try to find humor in different situations and surround yourself with positive people.
Find other moms or friends that celebrate with and encourage you.
And avoid those that are constantly negative and comparing, making you feel like less of a person or mom. Nobody needs that!
What is positive self-talk?
You may be thinking, “this all sounds great, but what exactly is positive self-talk?”
That’s a great question!
“Self-talk is your internal dialogue. It’s influenced by your subconscious mind, and it reveals your thoughts, beliefs, questions, and ideas.”
This internal dialogue can be either positive or negative. It can lift you up and encourage you, or it can bring you down and stress you out.
We can see how positive self-talk is beneficial, now the question is...
How do I practice positive self-talk?
Now that you’re convinced that positive thinking and positive self-talk is a good idea, you want to know where to start.
First, Listen & Learn
Spend some time listening to your internal dialogue.
Are you talking about yourself negatively? Do you assume the worst in yourself, others and your situation?
Are you supportive of yourself? Do you give yourself second chances? Do you give yourself grace if you make a mistake?
Would you be comfortable saying the same things you say to yourself to a loved one? If not, chances are your thinking about yourself is negative.
Write down some of your typical thought patterns, whether positive or negative.
Second, Think it Through
Look at some of your common thought patterns, and ask yourself these questions:
- Is it as big of a deal as I think it is? Or am I overreacting? Will it matter in the long run?
- Am I considering the facts? Or just focusing on opinions and making broad generalizations?
- Am I assuming what others will think or how they’ll react, without actually finding out?
- Am I labeling myself critically? Do I talk about myself with harsh words, like “stupid”, “pathetic”, or “fat”?
- Am I consumed by all-or-nothing thoughts?
- How true or accurate is this thought? Would I think differently from a friend’s perspective looking in?
Third, Switch Gears
Now that you have a better understanding of some of your negative thought-patterns, it’s time to switch gears and learn a new approach to thinking.
Look back at your thoughts that you wrote down and see if you can change them to more positive, kinder thoughts.
- “What an idiot! I really screwed up that presentation. Well, that’s the end of my career.”
- Alternative: “I can do better than that. I’ll prepare and rehearse more next time. Maybe I’ll get some public speaking training. That would be good for my career.”
- “I can’t do that in just one week. It’s impossible.”
- Alternative: “It’s a lot to do, but I’ll take it one step at a time. I think I’ll see if my friends can help, too.”
- “How ridiculous! I can’t teach myself how to think more positively.”
- Alternative: “Learning to think more positively can help me in many ways. I’m going to give it a shot.”
What are some practical ways I can practice positive thinking & positive self-talk?
As you begin to practice positive thinking and positive self-talk, it can be helpful to have reminders.
Some examples of things you can try are:
- Write positive affirmations on sticky notes and put them up around the house (e.g. on your mirror, on the fridge, beside your nursing chair, etc.)
- Write positive messages to yourself and schedule them to appear on your phone at certain times throughout the day and week.
- Post positive or inspiring images around your home. A picture is worth a thousand words!
- Use your name in your positive statements. It’s been said that using our names can give the message a stronger impact.
- So instead of just saying, “I am strong and capable”, try saying, “NAME, you are strong and capable.” For me, this would look like, “Kelsey, you are strong and capable.”
Sometimes just seeing positive words or images can be enough to redirect your thoughts.
What if I’m still feeling down, no matter what I try?
If you are still feeling down, no matter what you try, it’s important to ask for help.
Talk to a friend or family member about what you are going through.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with negative thoughts, it may also be helpful to talk with a professional, such as a therapist, who can help you sort through what’s going on.
In Canada, you can search for certified counselors here. (https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/find-a-canadian-certified-counsellor/)
In the United States, this is one site where you can search for certified counselors. (https://www.nbcc.org/search/counselorfind)
Before you go… here is some encouragement for you… from the Be Active Maternity team!
Sleep while you can. And don’t feel guilty (about the mess in the house, about not hosting when people come over, or doing anything else).
You deserve breaks and time to yourself.
Do what works best for you.
Don’t worry about what others say.
You are strong.
You are capable.
It’s okay to ask for help.
You are doing an amazing job.
Your little one doesn’t want a perfect mom, they want a happy one.
You are beautiful.
Your new body has done amazing things to bring life into this world (no matter how you brought life into this world).
Your stretch marks are a beautiful new part of you. They are part of your body, but they don’t define you.
You are an amazing mother. But that’s not all there is to you. You are still allowed to exist as an individual.
Here at Be Active Maternity we sincerely hope that you have found some encouragement in this article.
We would also love to see how you can help other moms to be active in positive thinking and positive self-talk.
Comment below with some of the positive self-talk statements you can share with other moms. Let’s encourage each other in our positive thinking!
Thank you for sharing your time with us.
I hope you have found something helpful in this article and that you will start to believe all of the amazing things that are already true about you.
Let’s go be active in becoming more positive :)
Be Active Maternity