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The Importance of Self-Talk When Overcoming Depression

The relationships around you can oftentimes influence your struggle with depression. But before you continue examining others, pause for a moment and take a good, deep look at you. Perhaps the most fundamental relationship you have is not with someone else it is with yourself. Though you interact with others, you are also in constant communication with yourself through self-talk. This inner dialogue sets the stage for how you respond to life.

When you are depressed, your self-talk can become one-sided, centered on negative dialogue of despair, regrets, frustration, confusion, and doubts. The voice of forgiveness is rarely heard, and the chorus of optimism, hope, and joy are drowned out. Take some time to think about how you treat yourself. Are you your own drainer or filler? Do you make it a habit of pointing out the positive? Or is your self-talk a constant stream of emphasizing the negative? How do you talk to yourself when you make a mistake? How do you talk to yourself when negative circumstances occur?

If your self-talk is out of balance, your ability to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself is compromised. It becomes difficult to escape the constant chatter of negativity inside your own head. Even more devastating, the more we think a certain way, the more likely we are to believe ourselves, manifesting our thoughts into reality.

Escaping this pattern of negative self-talk is a great challenge, and requires a consistent, long-term effort. It begins with simply observing your thoughts. Throughout the course of the day, try to step outside yourself and be an onlooker to your stream of consciousness. What types of thoughts are you having? Where do they come from? Where do they lead? Are they primarily positive or negative? Try not to pass any judgment on your thoughts, but just observe them as they pass through. Having awareness of your thoughts is an important first step towards shifting your thought patterns.

The next step in working toward a healthier relationship with yourself is through more realistic and truthful self-talk. There is great value in acknowledging and affirming the truth, both about situations and about yourself. By focusing on objective truths, you are able to avoid any subjective, and oftentimes negative, judgments.

Finally, another strategy to help improve the quality of your self-talk is to focus on the things you’re grateful for. When you observe your thoughts wandering towards negativity, don’t get angry with yourself. Instead, stop whatever you’re doing and think about something or someone that you are grateful for. This will immediately divert your mind from negative self-talk and redirect it towards the uplifting, positive aspects of your life.

Overcoming depression requires a multifaceted approach—both internally and externally. While there are many thought patterns that you can shift internally to help shake the feeling of depression, oftentimes people struggling with depression need external help. At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we understand the importance of holistic treatment,  If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, call to get the help you deserve.

The Power of Intentional Response: Positive Self Talk

If you know what it’s like to feel at the mercy of your mood, you may be pleasantly surprised to realize you have more power than you think. In fact, what you’re thinking is the very thing that can determine whether your mood turns good or bad.

Every day, we have experiences that illicit in us automatic emotional reactions. Sometimes they’re positive, like the way we react to a hug, a compliment, or a chat with a close friend. But sometimes they’re negative, like the way we react to dropping a glass on the kitchen floor, getting cut off on the freeway, or having a conflict with a colleague at work.

Considering that each of these negative examples are common occurrences we all experience now and then, the impact we allow them to have on our day may seem disproportionate. Why? Because these kinds of events trigger negative self-talk that reinforces core beliefs we have about ourselves, other people, and the way the world works:

“I can’t do anything right.”

“People are so inconsiderate.”

“I don’t get along with anyone.”

While you may have no control over thoughts that pop into your head, you do have control over the thoughts you choose to have in response:

“I choose to accept and grow from my mistakes.”

“I choose to forgive the mistakes of others.”

“I choose to accept others for who they are.”

Of course, it doesn’t take any notable event for negative self-talk to play in our brains all day long. For many of us, it’s ingrained. If this sounds familiar, you may want to try an exercise we use in depression therapy at A Place of Hope.

Make a list of all the negative messages you remember hearing throughout your life, and to whom these messages may be attributed. Then, for each negative message on the list, write down a counteracting positive statement.

Note, positive self-talk is not self-deception, as explained in my book, Turning Your Down Into Up: A Realistic Plan For Healing From Depression:

“Positive self-talk is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover the obscured optimism, hope, and joy in any given situation.

“Positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself. “

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