Benefits of Positive Self-Talk and Imagery
Our thoughts can have a significant impact on how we feel. Try this exercise with a partner: place your hands on your partner’s shoulders. The other person should think about something that worries them and then a happy memory. Was there a difference in the shoulders when the person was thinking different things?
Without us being aware of it, stress and negative thoughts can create tension and knots in the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, self-talk – the thoughts that roll through our heads – can be positive or negative. It is really easy to engage in negative self-talk. “I’m ugly.” “I’m stupid.” “I’ll never be successful.” These thoughts are not productive. Re-framing thoughts can change a negative thought into a positive one: “I’m pretty,” “I’m smart,” and “I’m worthwhile.”
Training yourself to rework negative thoughts into positive ones can have many health benefits, including increased life span, increased resistance to colds, and feeling better overall psychologically, physically, and mentally.
In addition to re-framing negative self-talk, visualization and imagery can be a powerful tool on the road to a more optimistic mindset. Several studies in sports psychology show that athletes who visualized succeeding – such as making a basket or hitting a ball – were more likely to experience success. This is true in the non-sports world, too. Think that you can’t do something? Imagine yourself executing it perfectly. Feeling sad? Imagine something that makes you happy.
Although, according to a study by the University of Waterloo and written about by Victoria Anisman-Reiner, when a person who regularly practices negative self-talk switches it up with a positive affirmation, they tend to feel worse. In order for a person to truly feel all the benefits of an optimistic thinking pattern, it requires time, effort, and continued positive self-talk.
What we tell ourselves is something that is so engrained in our lives – we are always surrounded by our thoughts. Changing thought patterns is not easy. It is a process: take it one thought at a time.