What are the benefits of positive self-talk?
Evidence has been piling up for years now backing the direct correlation between positive thinking and positive outcomes. Professor Barbara Fredrickson, a social psychologist from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, recently published a paper detailing her research and insights on the science of positivity and the benefits of positive self-talk.
Positive Versus Negative
To better frame the argument, Fredrickson first links emotions as direct results of thoughts. If you think about it, stripping emotions down to their most base definition will make you realize that they are really just synapses and stimuli – processes that happen in the human brain, just like thoughts.
So, positive thoughts = positive emotions, and negative thoughts = negative emotions.
Fredrickson likens positive emotions to nutrients and negative emotions to a sledgehammer and while that comparison may seem a bit drastic, her point is this: negative emotions have more impact on us than positive emotions. Negative emotions are “intense” and “attention-grabbing” by nature, and they have a nasty habit of blindsiding us. When we experience negative emotions, we experience extreme tunnel vision as well and somehow become singularly focused on our discomfort – tirelessly searching for a way to end our misery.
Positive emotions, on the other hand, are fleeting states that can dramatically expand our field of vision – even for just a few minutes at a time. Studies show that positivity can enhance our ability to take in more of our surroundings, boost our capability of connecting the dots, and generally widen our peripherals until we can somehow see the whole picture. Positivity breeds an open mind, and an open mind can get so much done in terms of building connections, relationships, patterns, physical boundaries and psychological health.
Talking to Yourself: Benefits Of Positive Self-Talk
Picture this: you’re about to perform some death-defying stunt. Alternatively, you’re about to face your greatest fear. Before leaping off the platform or press the accelerator, you whisper to yourself ‘Come on. You can do this.’ Like it’s second nature.
Funnily enough, it actually isn’t.
Positive self-talk is a direct spin-off of positive emotions. It is the physical manifestation of your psyche encouraging you, and it’s proven to have numerous benefits. Unfortunately, research shows that 80% of an average person’s thoughts in one day are negative and self-deprecating. Only 20% of our inner dialogue even remotely resembles positive thought, and it’s high time we changed that.
Here are 3 major benefits of positive self-talk.
Benefit #1: Stress Reducer
When you’re having a particularly hectic day, ever notice how the stress just keeps piling? It’s just one thing after another. Your boss needs those reports filed by 1pm. Then the school calls and you find out that your son got into a fight. You need to meet the principal after school to discuss disciplinary action. By the time 11am rolls around, you’re panicking because you can’t seem to find the presentation slides for the board meeting at 3pm and you still haven’t finished those reports. Looks like you’re skipping lunch.
These are the days when curling up and crying seem like great ideas, but realistically speaking, they won’t solve anything. According to the American Heart Association, one of the benefits of positive self-talk is incredible stress control. By simply reassuring yourself that you will get through this, you automatically feel calmer and less anxious.
Positive self-talk doesn’t mean blatantly lying to yourself that everything will work out. It means reframing the way you approach the unpleasantness of your situation. A simple sentence such as ‘I can do this,’ can clear your thoughts of all panic, broaden your mind to see all possible solutions, and greatly boost your productivity.
Benefit #2: Confidence Booster
We, as a race, generally seem to underestimate the power of words. Whether it’s spoken to others or to ourselves, we fail to realize the impact simple phrases and sentences can have on us. Thus, one of the other benefits of positive self-talk is a confidence boost. Negativity and lack of self-efficacy and self-belief can greatly hinder us in performing tasks. When we begin to doubt our own ability, we are already setting solid limits on what we can and can’t do.
The people who are afraid that they’re going to mess up a presentation or fail an exam have practically convinced themselves of an undesirable outcome. They’ve cemented their fate, and their words, thoughts and actions are simply going to follow the path that leads to that unfavourable result.
One of the benefits of positive self-talk is that it solidifies your belief in yourself, and that alone is a huge game-changer. While science can try to quantify the experience into charts, numbers and research papers, all you need to know is that positive thought begets positive results.
When you believe that you’re going to pull off that debate flawlessly or your play is going to have a spectacular opening night, you are readying yourself for a favourable outcome. As with negative thoughts, your words and actions are simply – and unconsciously – going to follow the path that leads them to that desirable conclusion.
Learn more: How To Overcome Unwanted Negative Thoughts
Benefit #3: Better Relationships
This one seems pretty easy to explain, but it’s worth noting that open, easy-going relationships is another one of the benefits of positive self-talk. Positivity helps you see the good in yourself. If you keep up this positivity long enough, then it will also reflect and apply to people around you. You begin to see the positive traits of your friends, families, and co-workers. On the flip-side, you learn to ignore – or even flat-out not notice! – their less attractive traits. You appear as an approachable, genuine person – all thanks to positive self-talk.
If you take a second to turn the tables, you’ll realize that this would ring true even from outside your point of view. One of the benefits of positive self-talk is a constant, tangible positivity that functions like a giant human magnet. People are just naturally drawn to people who are happy.
People want to hang out with those who smile easily, laugh at jokes, and are generally very agreeable. Case in point, would you hang out with the office grump or the cubicle clown? Who would you rather eat lunch with – the smiley receptionist who loves to talk about movies and Pinterest house ideas, or the stressed-out supervisor who can talk about nothing but deadlines, missed reports and upcoming meetings?
All in all, there are too many benefits of positive self-talk to list in one article. It all boils down to a perspective shift. Positive self-talk and positivity enables clarity, and clarity just makes everything so much cleaner, sharper and easier to understand.