Whether we are aware of it or not, we have all experienced moments in life where we talk poorly about ourselves. Those moments can lower our self-esteem and hinder our ability to chase our dreams. Sadly, this behavior can start at a young age and is very common among girls.
At Girls on the Run, we recognize this struggle. Among the many lessons we teach throughout each season, one of the most important lessons is about the impact of self-talk — what you say to yourself either in your head or out loud. We show our participants how to catch themselves engaging in negative self-talk and, most importantly, how to reframe it into positive self-talk.
One of our volunteer coaches shared an inspiring story that showcases how addressing negative self-talk can bring a team together and inspire joy and confidence in each individual. During their practice, the participants discussed examples of positive self-talk and negative self-talk. If they were comfortable, they shared some of the positive and negative thoughts they had about themselves. One participant said, “Everyone thinks I’m fat and ugly.”
Before her coaches had the chance to respond, she was swarmed with love and validation from her teammates. They showered her with positive affirmations, such as:
“You are beautiful.”
“You are amazing.”
“You are my friend.”
It can be scary to share your negative thoughts with people who care about you. Through this story, we can see that being brave enough to verbalize our negative thoughts gives the people around us the opportunity to support and uplift us.
Changing the way you talk to yourself is a skill that requires a lot of practice. We know that one lesson won't magically stop us from ever having a negative thought about ourselves again, but it's important to have a starting place for reframing negative self-talk into positive self-talk. And sometimes that starting place is a family member, a friend, or a mentor.
If you want to get in the practice of using positive self-talk, here are some things you can try:
- Journal – When you catch yourself going down a negative thought spiral, pull out a journal and document what is driving those thoughts and what emotions you are feeling. This can assist in discovering patterns that may exist and how it impacts your mood. Once you’ve done that, you can practice reframing those same negative thoughts into positive ones.
- Embrace a new perspective – Imagine if you heard someone you love talking about themselves the way you do when you are experiencing negative self-talk. How would you feel? What would you tell them? Treat yourself with patience and empathy — the same way you would for those who are important to you.
- Find your support system – Opening up to people who care about you when you cannot escape the negative self-talk can be extremely helpful. Sometimes the first step to shifting our thoughts is being heard and encouraged by those who have our best interest at heart.