Perhaps one of the most pervasive causes of stress is negative self-talk. It’s the habitual way we mentally put ourselves down, discount our own achievements, and doubt ourselves often without even realising. As the natural enemy to positive thinking, it inhibits our ability to confidently approach new projects and opportunities with a motivation to succeed.
While we may think our negative self-talk isn’t hurting anyone, we are likely doing more damage to ourselves than we are willing to admit – at least in a mental health sense. Positive thinking on the other hand, has been shown to act as an effective stress management tool and is strongly associated with a range of health benefits. The good news is that even if you can be a bit of a Negative Nancy, positive thinking skills can certainly be learned.
Through closely examining and challenging our more negative automatic thoughts, we can shift our internal narrative to something that will ultimately serve us better in the long run. Some ways we can practice positive thinking include being open to making mistakes and not letting them inform how we feel about ourselves, letting ourselves laugh and not taking everything too seriously, and redirecting our focus to silver linings. With studies showing that a positive outlook not only lowers rates of depression and distress but even leads to better cardiovascular health and resistance to the common cold, it’s evident that even in the most basic human sense we thrive on self positivity.