By Brittany Pritajel
Self-talk is a necessary skill to develop as you seek to increase your well-being. Self-talk is managing what you say to yourself (either out loud or in your head). As you look to improve your life after a concussion or injury you may target changing your behavior. It is important to know that behind the behavior is thoughts because what you think affects how you feel, and how you feel affects how you behave.
You can change how you talk to yourself. Positive self-talk can support you as you make changes in your life and strive to reach your goals in your concussion recovery.
Steps to Creating & Having Positive Self-Talk:
1: Identify the negative thought(s).
Before we can do anything, you have to have an idea of what thought it is that you want to change. If you are not completely sure what negative thoughts you have, take some time to pay attention to what you think and say to yourself for a day and write them down. For example, a negative thought might be: I am not healthy, and I will never be healthy like I was before.
2: Create a list.
In this step, you are going to create a list of facts that would not support the negative thought. You simply get to start a one-sided argument with that thought. I encourage people to pull from anything in life, not just the first few things that come to mind.
For example, my friends mention how hard I am working to get back on track with my nutrition. I could write down that "I had a healthy breakfast, and that I said no when someone offered to get me pop." The great part about this list is that you get to create very general or specific statements from all around you. Be sure to make your list is as long as you need it to be depending on the severity of the thought you are trying to change. I encourage people to write these out at first so that you always have them available to go through whenever you need them.
3: Create a new positive thought.
This new positive self-talk thought can be whatever you want it to be. The most powerful thoughts start with “I am...” This will help you to focus on the present. Even if it feels like the farthest thing from the truth, write down your new thought anyway. For example, "I am healthy, and I am making healthy choices." So, when you catch yourself saying your old thought take it through steps 1-3. Changing a thought takes time and repetition; essentially it will take practice, and the more you repeat the new positive thought, the more it will help you.
If you are having a hard time with changing and remembering your new thought, try pairing your new positive thought with a mannerism or a frequent behavior. For example, if you always play with your watch or ring you can repeat that new positive thought every time you do that. By connecting it with something, you regularly do, how often you tell yourself this new thought add up quickly!
As negative thoughts arise, you take it through this process. I always emphasize that the positive self-talk process can be difficult; especially if you are combating a negative thought that you have been thinking for a long period. It does take dedication to go through the process each time these negative thoughts creep in, but as you focus on winning that one argument and that one moment you can change your self-talk to empower you and change your life.