When was the last time you gave yourself a compliment? Told yourself how smart or funny you were? We actively give other people compliments all the time. And love it when others do it for us, so why don't we do it more for ourselves.
Self-talk is something we all do naturally throughout the entire day. As time goes on, people are becoming more aware that positive self-talk is a powerful tool for increasing one's self-confidence and curbing negative emotions. People who have the ability to master positive self-talk are thought to be more confident, motivated, and productive.
Self-talk can be both positive or negative – paying attention to which you most often sway towards, can help you start making proactive changes in order to take on life’s challenges.
More often than not our patterns of self-talk tend to be negative – we often focus on preconceived ideas that we’re ‘not good enough’ or ‘always a failure’ or ‘can’t do anything right’. As much as we don't want allow our brains to be they are hardwired to remember any and all negative experiences over those that are positive, as such we tend to recall the times we didn’t quite get something right more than the times that we did succeed. As a consequence of this we then replay these messages over and over in our minds, fuelling negative feelings.
Positive self-talk, is the flip of negative self-talk. It’s not about narcissism, or deceiving ourselves into thinking things that are inaccurate. Positive Self-talk is more about showing yourself self-compassion and understanding who you truly are. Positive self-talk allows our internal voice to switch to ideas like ‘I can do better next time’ or ‘I choose to learn from my mistakes, not be held back by them’.
Within Yoga, there is a list of Yamas and Nyamas we learn to abide by. The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa, which translates from Sanskrit to English as non-harming or non-violence.
The first layer of Ahimsa applies to the way that we treat others. Do no harm, both in what you say and what you do. We all know words have the power to harm as much – if not more – than actions can. Some yogis become vegetarian, or even vegan, as an outward expression of Ahimsa. The concept here applies not only to humans, but to all living creatures. Keeping this in mind it is evident that we are in general kind to others. We don’t harm animals and we are mindful of what we say to both family and friends. But what about the way you treat and talk to yourself?
We need to be more diligent in applying the concept of Ahimsa to ourselves.
We do all the right things. From eating healthy, exercising, to doing yoga. But are our own worst critic. The thoughts running through our mind, the words we say to ourselves . . . we would likely never say them to another person.
We learn to practice Ahimsa truly when we learn to be kind to ourselves as well. Through the practice of non-harming in actions, thoughts, and words in relation to our own self not just others.
As the famous Dhammapada quote says: “The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, and let it spring from love born out of concern for all beings . . . As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.”
On that note, what will your next kind thought about yourself be?