We hear a lot about the power of positive thinking, but what does it really mean? The answer may surprise you. Like with laughter and social relationships, there are a number of benefits to having a positive internal dialogue. Today, we will talk about what it really means to have a positive internal dialogue and how it can benefit you as well as how to cultivate more positive thinking.
Benefits Of A Positive Internal Dialogue
Having a positive internal dialogue is not the same as toxic positivity. Toxic positivity refers to bypassing all negative circumstances or emotions. This is damaging for a number of reasons, including that it is invalidating and tends to lead to ignoring problems, which is actually maladaptive. A positive inner dialogue, on the other hand, is adaptive. Someone with a healthy and positive internal dialogue is able to acknowledge pain and distress, and their self-talk is beneficial and supportive of their needs.
Benefits of a positive internal dialogue may include but are not limited to the following:
- Improved distress tolerance skills.
- Improved physical health, including better heart health and a higher level of immunity to the common cold.
- Improved mental health.
- Increased self-esteem and confidence.
- The ability to better navigate and cope during difficult times.
Research even shows that optimism and positive thinking can lead to a longer lifespan. With all of this in mind, you might be wondering, “how do I make my internal dialogue more positive?” While it doesn’t happen overnight, it is possible due to the nature of neuroplasticity.
How To Build A Positive Internal Dialogue
Here are some tips for building a more adaptive and positive internal dialogue:
- Focus on gratitude. Similar to positive thinking, research shows that gratitude is incredibly beneficial for a person’s mental and physical well-being. Actively thinking about what you are thankful for and focusing on gratitude is an excellent way to cultivate a more positive internal dialogue because it emphasizes curative, optimistic thoughts in your mind by default. You may start a gratitude journal, jot down things that you are grateful for on a regular basis, or make an active effort to tell people in your life that you appreciate them. It doesn’t mean that you have to be thankful for everything that happens to you, but it does mean that when something good happens, you acknowledge it at least just as much.
- Reframe negative thoughts. It likely comes as no surprise at all that one of the biggest barriers to a more positive internal dialogue is negative thinking. Negative thoughts can be automatic, but if you can catch them and reframe them, it can help your inner dialogue and thought processes become more positive naturally in the long run. Say that you have a negative thought such as, “nobody likes me.” You may reframe that thought by saying to yourself, “I have no evidence which proves that every person in the world does not like me, and I know that there are people in my life who do like me,” and listing to yourself some of your positive traits or qualities. It may also be beneficial to look into cognitive distortions and how they may be impacting your thoughts.
- Use self-compassion. A positive inner voice or inner dialogue is a compassionate one. Talk to yourself the way that you would talk to a close friend or loved one, and when you struggle with self-compassion, think about how you would support someone that you love dearly who was going through or saying the same thing. Self-compassion doesn’t mean not acknowledging when you do something wrong; it’s actually quite the opposite. It allows you to navigate those circumstances effectively and, if applicable, to have the confidence in yourself to be a better person.
Changing your inner dialogue isn’t always easy. If you feel stuck or simply want support in this process, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to seek the support of a mental health counselor or therapist.
Looking for a counselor or therapist can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a variety of ways to find a mental health provider such as a counselor or therapist. You might ask your doctor for a referral for talk therapy, contact your insurance company or visit their website for information on who they cover, use an online directory or search the web for mental health providers near you, or use an online counseling website such as MyTherapist that works with verified licensed providers. Whether you decide to look for mental health support online or in person, you deserve to get the help that you need and cultivate a positive internal dialogue that works to your advantage.