The Relationship of Mood and Feelings To Self-Talk

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Our mood and feelings are highly influenced by our self-talk, or what we say to ourselves.

Self-talk can take place so quickly and automatically we may not notice engaging in it, but our body still responds to the words. When the words are negative, our feelings and mood will follow suit.

For instance, imagine a coworker passes you in the hall and does not respond to your greeting. You fleetingly think, “She doesn’t like me, nobody does.” Although the coworker’s mind was fixated on a problem and she did not hear the greeting, your negative self-talk will stir emotions of shame and sadness.

Six Things To Know About Self-Talk

  1. Negative self-talk happens quickly and automatically because it is a habit—a self-defeating habit. To change a habit we must first become aware that we do it and then substitute the negative action with a life-affirming one. What makes negative self-talk difficult to change is that we tend to believe our self-defeating words. This is why many individuals need the assistance of a professional counselor to become more self-affirming.
  2. To notice our own negative self-talk we must pause or take a relaxing breath before reacting to a situation. This allows us to step back from the event and objectively see what is occurring, what we are telling ourself about it, and to notice the relationship between the self-talk and our feelings.
  3. Self-talk can trigger or aggravate symptoms of panic, anxiety, a phobia, or depression. Those of us who have one of these diagnoses are prone to negative self-talk so monitoring our thoughts is essential for symptom management. If you need counseling to accomplish this it is well worth the time, expense, and effort.
  4. Negative self-talk can influence us to avoid certain places, events, or people. However, avoidance strengthens our belief in the self-defeating thoughts. We might even create disastrous images around the idea of facing these situations. This will stimulate more anxious self-talk and more avoidance. The mental anxiety loop we create can be far more uncomfortable than actually being in the situation.
  5. Our self-talk is incredibly powerful because even a few words, such as “I’m a loser,” can trigger a string of related memories, thoughts, and emotions. All this might flash in and out of our awareness before we can blink. Identifying and understanding the effect of our self-talk may involve unraveling these entangled associations of thought and feeling.
  6. Self-talk, particularly the anxious type, usually sounds true to us but on examination is irrational. Yet, these thoughts are so quick and automatic we rarely challenge their validity, or examine the truth of beliefs they are based on. Thinking something does not make it true. One good habit to cultivate is skepticism about our negative inner conversation.

 
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