Challenging our Negative Health Self-talk

Whenever I’m struggling I often find myself telling myself how bad I feel. I hear myself saying things to myself like ‘ow, my throat really hurts’ or ‘I’ve really got no energy today’.  From a mind body perspective this kind of self-talk risks reinforcing that state of affairs though giving the body the message that  a really sore throat, or the state of being without energy is what is expected of it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to notice these messages from your body and respond to them accordingly. For me a sore throat is a sign that either I over did it big-style or that my body is fighting an infection and I need to respond by taking it really easy, saving my energy for healing and recuperation. But I’m not really talking about mere observation, I’m talking about the kind of ‘poor me’ statements that pop into my mind on a regular basis when I’m feeling under par. I’m not going to beat myself up for a little bit of self-pity, I believe it’s a perfectly normal and natural human reaction to suffering, but it does concern me that I might not be doing my health any favours. I believe I can positively influence my wellbeing and I would prefer to empower myself to do so whenever I can.

Because of this, whenever I notice myself making that kind of negative health statement I try to counter it by repeating a health empowering affirmation. I choose to repeat it 3 to 5 times to make sure that the positive message outweighs the negative none. The easiest way I have found to do this is to tie it to my breath.

So when I find myself grumbling to myself about how sore my throat is, I tell myself that I breathe in soothing energy and breathe out waste and disease, or sometimes I breathe in healing or light and breathe out infection or darkness. If I’m moaning to myself about lack of energy, I tell myself I’m breathing in energy and vitality and breathing out fatigue and tension. My aim is to give my body a better message about what I expect from it and to use my attention as a tool to help my body focus its resources on the goal of improving health.

The real trick is to catch yourself in the act of thinking the negatively reinforcing thoughts which is where mindfulness becomes such a powerful tool. Choosing to counter those thoughts with positive affirmations is an easy next step when you’re determined to give your body the best possible chance of healing itself!

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2 thoughts on “Challenging our Negative Health Self-talk”

  1. Struggling with feeling negative today as so weak and when i get up from my bed,go downstairs to try and do something useful i am too exhausted and have to lie down again.particularly hard on a lovely sunny day when the family are out and about,will try the positive affirmations out loud now!love yout posts-they help me feel not so alone in this.a quick query-how would you suggest i find my baseline of energy when i feel exhausted and ill even doing nothing more intense than reading/colouring?thanks forvyour encouraging words x

    • Hi Julie,

      It sounds like you need a bit of recuperation before you can find your baseline. Why not allow yourself a week of making yourself as comfortable as possible, doing as little as you possibly can to give yourself a chance to stabilise. Try and break up everything you do into small bursts, even reading and colouring. Make it a goal to be as relaxed and peaceful as possible. Doing what you do have to do really slowly can also help you be more aware of when it becomes an effort and when you need to stop.After a week just add one simple well paced task a day and make sure you feel OK the next day before you add any more. Sticking within your energy envelope really does make a difference and gives your energy a chance to improve. Good luck!

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