Seeing your glass as half-full is often associated with having an optimistic view of the world. A number of studies found that people who view the glass as half-full not only think more optimistically, but also hold particular personality traits, including decisiveness, playfulness, and creativity, as well as, good health and stress management (Van Raalte, & Vincent, 2017).
Positive self-talk does not imply that you simply sweep away bad experiences under the carpet. It means that you approach these bad experiences in a more optimistic and productive manner by showing yourself self-compassion and understanding for who you are and what you’ve been through (Jantz, 2019).
Self-talk consists of any unspoken thoughts that cross your mind. These automatic thoughts can either be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information. Positive self-talk involves the switching of ideas through our internal narrative like ‘I choose to own my mistakes, not be held back by them’ or ‘I will do better next time’. How can you start identifying negative self-talk?
Filtering – You magnify the negative side of a situation and filter out all of the positive happening. For instance, you did well in your past exams but you still put yourself down when it comes to studying for upcoming examinations.
Personalizing – When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, a gathering with friends has been cancelled last minute and you assume that it was cancelled since no one wanted to be around you.
Catastrophizing – You always anticipate the worst-case scenario. You missed the bus for school in the morning and automatically think that the whole day will turn out to be failure.
Polarizing – You see things in black and white, as either good or bad, without any middle ground. Unless to something turns out perfectly, you feel like a failure.
How can you turn negative thinking into positive self-talk?
It’s quite a simple process, yet one needs to dedicate time, effort and practice until you start creating new habits. These are some ways to help you view the world in a more positive way:
- Identify areas for improvement – Make a list of areas in your life that you often think negatively about, it can be your body image, family, or intimate relationships. Start with tiny steps by focusing on one area at a time and try to approach it in a more positive manner.
- Find time for self-reflection – Dedicate some time during the day to assess how you’re thinking. Once you realise you are turning to negative thinking, try to focus on a more positive outcome.
- Use humour – Practice self-compassion and give yourself permission to smile especially through hard times. Humour can also be an effective stress-relieving method.
- Keep a healthy lifestyle – Find time to exercise at least half an hour each day. Regular exercise together with a healthy diet can improve one’s mood while reducing stress.
- Surround yourself with positive people – Significant people in your life will impact you especially when you are most in need. Keeping positive and supportive people close to you, who you can depend on, will bring out the best in you.
- Adopt positive self-talk – ‘Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else.’ By following this simple rule, you can learn to become more compassionate and grateful for the positive and simplest things in life.
“There is no greater path you can walk,
no greater goal you can achieve,
and no greater purpose you can find,
than to live up to the promise
you were born to fulfil”
(Helmstetter, 2019, p.57)
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Marlene is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist with Willingness. She has experience working in the mental health field, particularly with issues of anxiety, depression, loss, challenging relationships and major life transitions.
Jantz, G. L. (2019). Healing Depression for Life Workbook: The 12-Week Journey to Lifelong Wellness. NavPress.
Helmstetter, S. (2019). Negative self-talk and how to change it. Park Avenue Press
Mayo Mindfulness: Overcoming negative self-talk (May 29, 2021).Retrieved from
Van Raalte, J. L., & Vincent, A. (2017). Self-talk in sport and performance. In Oxford research encyclopedia of psychology.