Self Talk: a simple-to-use tool to end depression

Take stock of the self talk you have

First, begin to notice what is going on in your head. What is it that you are saying to yourself? What negative messages are you giving yourself on a regular basis? Do you berate yourself for things you did in your past or left undone? Do you stress out about all the things that you have to do in the future and worry about how will it all get done? Hopeless thoughts are related to depression. Worry thoughts are related to anxiety. Pay attention for a while to the tape that is playing in your head and think if this is what you really want to be feeding yourself. Then make a decision to take control of your mind and change the self talk.

Give Yourself Permission!

Self talk is one of the most powerful ways to end depression. Changing your self talk is incredibly powerful because you are establishing new neural pathways in your brain by repeating self talk that is nurturing and positive to your Inner Self. Changing your self talk will be difficult at first and you have to give yourself permission to do it! You can tell yourself that studies show that when you say nice things to yourself  you will be less depressed, less anxious and feel happier, so you might as well do it. You may feel nervous like I did because you hold a superstitious belief that if you dare hope that things will turn out OK, they definitely won’t. If this is the case, tell yourself that you are much more likely to bring this negative reality to manifestation if you think about it than if you dare say kind things to yourself.

Feeling Good

When I was first depressed at the age of 13 I found the book “Feeling Good,” by Dr. David Burns. This book opened my eyes to the power of our mind and actions to change how we feel and to the world of therapy. I loved this book and I realized that I had already applied some of the behavioral principles to myself previously, my goal at the time being to have more friends. The book opened me up to the world of changing your thoughts to change your life.  I have worked to perfect this concept in myself ever since. I realized that negative thoughts could be challenged as “irrational.” I realized that how a depressed person thinks was not “normal.” I realized that it was OK to start letting this type of thinking go.

I had an irrational, superstitious attachment to negativity, as I thought if I everything goes badly, I will at least be prepared, not get my hopes up and not “jinx” myself. Looking back and knowing what I know now, it is hard to imaging that I was doing this horrible, negative self talk. I do feel bad for my Younger Self.

Initially, self-talk may feel forced and fake, however this does not reduce its effectiveness. So just keep doing it even if it feels awkward at first! You can think of it as having the good parent, the best friend, and the coach living in your head.

The Best Friend, The Coach, and The Good Parent

The Best Friend

Talk to yourself as your best friend. Most people can understand that the way they are talking to themselves when they are depressed is not how they would talk to their best friend or somebody they truly care about. So bringing attention to how one treats themselves sheds light on the often extremely negative and self-berating tape that is being played in the depressed person’s mind.

The re-living of past events in one’s head is another example. The past is rehashed over and over and the self talk is often very critical of how things were handled and what was said. If one imagines talking to their best friend the past event would be judged more kindly and encouragement would be given. Statements such as, “you did the best you could,” and “nobody noticed that you messed up part of your speech,” would be utilized versus a barrage of harsh criticism.

The depressed person may also feel hopeless about the future and say things like, “I will never get a good job,” or “there is no use, no one will love me.” If there was a “best friend” voice around,” she may say, “just keep trying, it takes a while to get a good offer, even the best people got rejected over and over until they made it.”  And “you are a wonderful loving person, just keep being yourself and you will find your true love.” Talking to yourself as your best friend will take some getting used, lots of reminders and practice, but it is a clear concept that the depressed person can grasp.

The Coach

The coach brings us the self talk of self-encouragement. This is another tape that can be played instead of the old negative one.  Here you want to just continuously encourage yourself in your day-to-day activities. Instead of getting frustrated and annoyed about little things going wrong tell yourself things like, “It is OK, it was no big deal. You got this! Way to go, you got that blog done on time! You are awesome!” Continuously give yourself encouragement for big and small things. Even when you don’t blow up at your child after getting frustrated, tell yourself, “you really handled that well, way to go keeping your temper, you’re a great mom!” After the self talk pause and take a deep breath releasing the stress and tension. You can be as over-the-top with your praise as you want. Picture yourself in a race, like the marathon of life, where you are rooting for you every step of the way, playing the theme from “Rocky” in your head.

The Good Parent

The good parent will tell the Inner Self helpful hints that will keep her going through the day. The good parent will tell the Inner Self, you know if you stay up late you will feel bad tomorrow, let’s go brush your teeth and wash your face and get ready for bed; you will feel so much better. After you do it say, “way to go, you were feeling tired yet you still washed your face instead of plopping into bed with a face full of makeup. You’re doing great.”You will wake up feeling wonderful and refreshed tomorrow.” The good parent will remind the Inner Child to drink plenty of water, get exercise and eat on time so that the child maintains energy. The self talk of the good parent is practical and helps the depressed person do all the self-care things that are known to help us get out of depression.

“Fake it till you make it”

These new ways of talking to yourself may seem fake or contrived at first, but you need to keep doing it and remind yourself that even if initially it is “fake,” if you keep doing it, it will get real soon enough. The more your repeated it, the more the neural pathway will be engraved in your brain, the more connections will be created and the more automatic they will become. Like the coach will tell you, “practice makes perfect,” and this will be a continuous day to day practice.

As your depression begins to lift you will start finding this fun. It will be fun to encourage yourself to do what is healthy. It will be fun to heap praise on yourself and to tell yourself “good job!” Things will become less frightening because wherever you go you will be able to turn to have your very best friend right there by your side.

Self talk at the end of the day

A wonderful time for positive self talk is when you are reflecting about the end of your day. This is something I do with my son. I review with him about what was good during the day, and what he is grateful for. It is often fun events that he participated in that he is grateful for. We also discuss things in general that he is grateful for such as the rain that watered the vegetable garden, that everyone in his family is feeling good and healthy and that he lives in a nice house. It is a way to reinforce his memory, but it is also a way for him to end the day on a positive note which will help lock in that positive state for the night and help him wake up with it in the next day. It is also a time that if there was something he was worried about I can talk to him about it and help him process it. I do this through a role play with animals. This also is a step to preventing any ruminating negative self talk from occurring which can be a precursor to depression.

Now I have decided to apply this method to myself at the end of the day. I review all the things that went well during the day, all of my achievements big and small and I wallow in how good they feel. I also visualize positive good things happening in my future. I focus on anything that makes me feel really good, like going on a beautiful vacation, and that is how I drift off to sleep. At this point I don’t usually have too many unresolved issues as I have dealt with them throughout the day with my micro-checks and micro-adjustments method. Check out the link for that article here:        But if there was something problematic, this would also be a time to see if there was anything I needed to do and to encourage myself with positive self talk that the situation would get resolved. And then I may visualize the situation being the best that it could be.

Affirmations as self talk

The use of positive affirmations is an easy way to add positive self talk that will counteract the negative tape of depression in your brain. Affirmations can be written down and posted on your mirror, written in a notebook and memorized. To engage more parts of your brain, write the affirmation, read the affirmation out loud, commit it to your memory and say the affirmation to yourself in your head. All these are valid ways to increase positive self talk through affirmations and all of these ways create new neural pathways.

I have a number of affirmations memorized and I found them to be very helpful with depression and anxiety. Most of these are from the work of Catherine Ponder, who is a Unity minister. When the mind begins to ruminate about the past or stress about the future, simply repeat an affirmation in a mantra type manner. Just calmly read it and say it out loud or in your head. This way you don’t have to “figure anything out” you can simply play an automatic tape that is soothing, calming and uplifting to your mind.

Some of my favorites that I have learned over the years:

I am healthy strong and beautiful in mind, body and spirit.

I dwell in paths of pleasantness, prosperity and peace.

Nothing but good can come into my life for God is in charge.

All is good; I have nothing to fear.

I have affirmations that I know to use for specific situations. If I fear somebody saying negative things about me, I use:

My God sent his angels who shut the mouths of the lions and they can do me no harm.

I have to say that this works amazingly well and situations just seem to work themselves out. My mind becomes quiet and peaceful and I let the situation go and let it be resolved.

Here is one that I use for when something seems to go wrong:

When one door closes, an even bigger and better door opens.

You can carry a little book of affirmations with you so that you have them handy wherever you go. I highly recommend memorizing them. Committing something to memory is a good way to get your mind off depressing thoughts. Anytime you memorize something you are creating new neural pathways. And when you memorize something you have it ready to use when you need it no matter what.

Self talk and healing the Inner Self

Although I was able to heal from depression, I did find that things finally all came together after I did the Amate Growth Work process. It took really fully accepting and loving my Inner Self for me to want to always bathe her in positive and affirming self talk.

For further information how you can heal from depression contact Dr. Eva at 303-242-7824 for your free consultation.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Self Talk: a simple-to-use tool to end depression

  1. Loved this. These are some of the habits I developed to keep my moods in check. I love the post-it’s in the mirror and around the house. I have these on my teenage son’s bathroom mirror so he can develop these skills for himself. I do recognize my self-talk now but that’s because I have a meditation practice and started noticing these thoughts because of my mind-watching practice I did early in the morning. It’s amazing how I used to talk to myself and not even notice. There is a way out of depression. Thanks Dr Eva for helping people into healthy habits.

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