Be Kind To Yourself!
The Influence of Self-Talk in Your Daily Life

Illustration of a girl hugging herself through a mirror
illustration by Peyton Woodruff

“Convince yourself everyday that you are worthy of a good life. Let go of stress, breathe. Stay positive, all is well.” 

― Germany Kent 

The way we talk to ourselves self consciously (the little voice inside your head) has a lot of influence on how you feel perceived by others. As humans, we want to be perceived as what society’s expectations deems to be “good” or “impressive”. When we get too much in our head about certain things like, grades, skills, relationships, etc.,we begin to talk down to ourselves with thoughts like, “I can’t do this”, “I know I won’t do good so why should I try?”. Negative self-talk doesn’t always happen consciously, sometimes people will make self-deprecating jokes to make light of a situation they might be going through. We learn how to talk to ourselves from a very young age from the influence of our parents (Thomaes, et. al 2020). The way we talk to ourselves has a direct effect on how we do in school or extracurriculars (Sánchez, et. al, 2016), and by having negative thoughts weigh out the good, motivating thoughts can do more harm than good.

When you talk down on yourself repeatedly, you begin to believe these negative thoughts. There are times even when you gaslight yourself to be self-convinced that you deserve whatever went wrong in the situation (Kim, et. al 2021). As college students we are put to such high expectations, it is difficult to always be in a positive state of mind. Though, the more steps we take towards a positive mindset will begin to help gain confidence and self-performance over time (Bellomo, et. al 2020). By taking small steps such as,self affirmations, changing initial negative thoughts into positive thoughts, and doing the best you can to be self-motivated. 

“You do not have to overdo to be loved. 

You do not have to perform to be loved. 

You do not have to worry that your life will become meaningless or pointless if you soften.” ― Molly Remer, Walking with Persephone 

Positive self talk is crucial to our performance and success not only as students (Sánchez, et. al, 2016), but as people too. As students navigating the challenges of college life, the way we talk to ourselves is like the behind-the-scenes director of our lives. Our inner monologue doesn’t just impact how we feel about our academic performance; it spills into how we face adulting, friendships, relationships, and those ‘figuring-it-out’ moments (Bellomo, et. al, 2020). Here are some ways to better yourself talk! 

  1. Remember you are worthy and deserving of a good life! 

There are times where we all felt like giving up. It is important to remind ourselves the daily problems we face in society are not equivalent to who we are. By looking up some

affirmations online, downloading a meditation app, or just writing positive affirmations on sticky notes to put up can help a lot more than you might think! 

  1. Challenge the negative thoughts you’re having. 

When you find yourself thinking negatively, try to reverse the thought into something positive. For example, if you are feeling like you aren’t doing well in a class you could tell yourself: “Even though I feel like I’m not doing my best right now, I know that is not who I am at my core. It is important that I put my wellbeing over anything else.” It is hard to still be able to navigate the roadblocks in life if you are unable to take care of yourself. By showing some extra care and kindness to yourself could ease the stress you are feeling in your current situation.

     3. Live life on your own terms. 

The expectations society sets us up for can be overwhelming and even existential at times. You should not have to live up to anyone’s expectations or opinions, because you are the only person at the end of the day to judge how you truly feel about yourself. When you start to feel overwhelmed, think about what is causing you to feel this way. If you have ever put yourself down for not getting a 100% or feel as if you are not trying hard enough to a point you think life will become meaningless, it’s important to remind yourself to recognize the value of the achievements you have made so far. By rethinking your own self expectations and giving yourself slack on things you cannot achieve right away gives you some leeway, and can help you not to be so hard on yourself. You are deserving of kindness and patience, and just by doing what you consider the bare minimum is more than enough than what society is expecting out of you. Think about what makes you happy and live on your own timeline rather than the ones others set for you. 

  1. Celebrate Achievements! Even if they are small.

Did you manage to get out of bed today AND get to class on time? This calls for a celebration! Sometimes getting out of bed is the hardest part, and just by getting up for the day is an achievement of its own. Celebrating the little things in life can allow us to feel more accomplished at times. We all have our responsibilities and troubles with life. Acknowledge the moments you get up for the day, get ready, go to school/work, or remember to eat. Small achievements are important because they \help us keep going with our day. Of course, it is important to celebrate the big things too, but rewarding yourself for the little things can do a whole world of good. So, go grab your sweet little treat for the day! 

Our inner dialogue plays an important role in our everyday lives. It shapes our self-perception, actions, and achievements. Negative thoughts, whether conscious or subconscious, can dictate our minds, lead to self-doubt, and a sense of losing self-worth (Kim, et. al 2021). By challenging negative thoughts, giving yourself positive affirmations, and celebrating all accomplishments–no matter how small they are could help with your journey to self-empowerment. As we navigate college and life with self-compassion, it can guide us to a brighter future.

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