How do you talk to yourself?

Episode 25 in Part 2 of our Introduction series: Getting to know yourself.

Habits:  Positive attitude | Know thyself

Skills:  Positive thinking | Mindfulness

Description:  In this episode, we expand on the idea of trying to reduce your negative thinking for more positive and optimistic thoughts. We outline four ways you might engage in negative self-talk; filtering, personalizing, catastrophizing, and polarizing; to help you recognise when you’re talking yourself down. Finally, we introduce a simple rule to help you change your pessimistic internal voice to something more upbeat.


How this lesson might be discussed with your child

We expand on our 'I think, therefore I am. Really?' episode today, with a closer look at the types of negative thoughts that students may have. Explaining the types of thoughts, or the situations in which they might occur helps students to become more mindful in those situations, giving them a higher chance of catching their negative or pessimistic thoughts. The four types of negative self-talk outlined are:

  1. Filtering
  2. Personalizing
  3. Catastrophizing
  4. Polarizing

We also introduce a rule for changing negative thoughts into more positive ones (to be applied when a student catches themselves in a negative form of self-talk):

"Don't say anything to yourself, that you wouldn't say to anyone else" 

Possible questions from today's episode to prompt class discussion include:

  • Can you recognize any negative self-talk you might have said to yourself in the four types of self-talk covered in today's episode?
  • Is one of the forms of negative self-talk more common for you?
  • Have you had difficulty in recognizing fixed-mindset statements when you make them – in other words, is it hard to catch yourself in negative or pessimistic thoughts? Why?
  • Have you noticed friends or family members making negative or fixed-mindset statements about themselves?
  • What could you do to help your friends or classmates identify and correct their negative or fixed-mindset statements?

Some specific discussion points

Discussion of any literary works, historical figures, or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to identify negative statements or self-talk. 

Some possible questions may include:

  • What famous literary or movie characters can you think of that make negative statements about themselves?
  • What is the impact of their negative statements?
  • If you make a negative statement about yourself out-loud, do you think you make more or less negative statements about yourself in your head? Why?
  • How can a negative statement or thought about yourself result in a negative outcome?
  • Do you think improving your optimism is as easy as trying to catch your negative thoughts and change them for more positive ones? Why/Why not?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"Once you replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results." — Willie Nelson

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you believe this quote? Why/Why not?
  • What do you think some of the 'positive results' that Willie Nelson is talking about might be?
  • Do you believe that if you replace your negative thoughts with positive ones for long enough, you'll eventually only have positive thoughts? Why/Why not?
  • Can you think of any area where you used to have negative thoughts, but now you're much more positive?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in reading this article (click the title to view):

Positive Thinking: Stop Negative Self-talk to Reduce Stress.
by Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014.