By Elizabeth Grasher, M.S., LPC, LMFT
Embrace and make peace with life because in this very moment you are right where you were meant to be. We have the opportunity to grow and learn from the past and create an amazing future.
Growing up, I never felt good enough. Not only was this my internal dialogue but it was reiterated by my father. So for years I had to learn how to embrace positive cognitions and self-talk. It hasn’t come naturally to me, but with time and coaching I learned how to embrace myself and take control of my life.
Think happy, be happy. It’s such an easy concept but one that often doesn’t settle well.
Just say aloud “I accept myself as I am.” What types of images or feelings arise with that statement? Is it easy to say or was it a struggle? Practicing a mantra, affirmation or positive self-talk can lead to change from the inside out.
Our thoughts and actions are in our control and we can make a choice each day to choose peace or choose anger. What negative cognitions or beliefs are influencing our daily thoughts?
Pay attention to thoughts, feelings and bodily rhythm without judgment — just observe. I focus on present-moment awareness and not the mistakes of the past or the unknowns of the future. When the mind wanders to the negative and the assumptions of the past, simply recognize the thought, and counter it. This will take time and practice, because often these negative cognitions are deeply rooted from the past. They often are automatic and can greatly influence our feelings, behaviors and mood.
An example would be a belief that “I am powerless.” In my early 20s I had an external locus of control. I did believe “I am powerless.” By telling myself “I am powerless” every day, I was engaging in self-defeating thoughts and furthering the belief that I was a victim.
But this assumption and belief is invalid and further creates low self-esteem and anxiety. Countering this negative statement we can tell ourselves “I am in control and responsible for my life” or “I am capable of creating an amazing future.” With practice and time we can “debug” our brain and take control of our lives.
Notice inner dialogue and counter negative self-talk by writing down a personal and positive affirmation. Put it on a sticky note or an index card. We need to reaffirm every time we experience an event that supports our affirmation, even if small. Take the time to congratulate our newfound belief. Be patient because the results can be tremendous.
Recently there have been few psychological studies examining the effectiveness of affirmations and positive thoughts/cognitions, but the studies conducted show a correlation between improved mental health and positive cognitions (Macleod and Moore, 2000). Affirmations and positive self-talk are relatively easy concepts to grasp and are found in nearly every self-help book and 12 step program. But often they are overlooked as a daily practice. Make time for daily practice of positive mantras, self-talk and affirmations because “I am worthy just as I am” and we have the capacity to learn and grow through this process of self-discovery.
Negative self-talk is a habit. It will take time to change and replace negative thinking, but the power is ours by simply changing how we think and interpret our own lives. We can choose thoughts to energize and benefit our own well-being.
I continue to identify and evaluate my own “thinking.” I work to continually evolve my negative thinking patterns and the inner critic inside. I am a work in progress, but by making a conscious choice to choose positive cognitions, affirmations and mantras, I have increased confidence and acceptance of self and others.
With practice and time we can evolve our self-talk, which will positively include our physical and psychological well-being. Our thoughts are powerful and via self-observation and awareness we can choose wellness for our minds and bodies.
Macleod, A. K. and Moore, R. (2000), Positive thinking revisited: positive cognitions, well-being and mental health. Clin. Psychol. Psychother., 7: 1–10. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0879(200002)7:13.0.CO;2-S
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Grasher, E. (2015). Embracing Your Inner Self. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 25, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/11/20/embracing-your-inner-self/
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