Warning: this is one of those things that may feel silly and even sound like bullshit until you try it, but you should try it.
“Each of us has a set of messages that play over and over in our minds. This internal dialogue, or personal commentary, frames our reactions to life and its circumstances,” writes psychologist Dr. Gregory Jantz.
“One of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy is to intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk.”
That’s right: speaking positively to yourself can actually lead to thinking more positively.
I’ve written before about how and why negative thoughts come in mind through no fault of your own – your brain is just wired to see the worst in things (it’s kind of a dick that way).
But Jantz recommends a simple exercise for replacing negative self-talk with positive.
How to Replace Negative Self-Talk with Positive
Write down some of the negative messages in your mind that undermine your ability to feel confident.
Take a minute to think of positive truths that you can replace those negative thoughts with.
For instance, if you think, “I make too many mistakes” try acknowledging another side of it: “ I learn from my mistakes, which allows me to improve.”
This may feel like woo-woo feel goodery, but it’s really not. The truth is that there are facts, and then there are the way we interpret facts.
As noted, human beings have a stubborn and unhelpful tendency to focus on the negative.
So if you’re not good at socializing, for instance, you might constantly say “I’m no good at socializing.” As a result, when you next try to do it, you’ll get nervous, put your foot in your mouth, and reinforce your negative belief.
But you can acknowledge this fact – “I’m no good at socializing” – while also acknowledging another truth:
“Socializing is a skill. I don’t have that skill now, but at least I realize it is a skill, and therefore can set about learning it. Most guys who are afraid of socializing don’t even realize they can improve, so they never do. So while I may have a long journey ahead of me, I’m at least on the right path.”
I recognize that this may take some practice, and even sound intimidating, but it’s worth trying and persisting in because, as Dr. Jantz alludes to, this is the kind of thinking that can super-charge your self-confidence.
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Irreverent Gent founder Dave Bowden is a men’s style specialist, an Amazon bestselling author, an unrepentant introvert, a (patient, if long-suffering) Toronto sports fan and the husband of a wonderful (and fortunately much more patient) wife.