Negative talk; how often do you let negative talk filter into your everyday conversations, thoughts or self-talk ?
You may be mindful of what you say to other people, the information you share and aware of when best not to say anything at all! Yet, how do often monitor the amount of negatives words, thoughts and phrases that filter into your daily life without you even giving them second thought.
Now, you might be sitting there thinking ‘really?!’ ‘I’ve got better things to do with my time’ but did you know that negative talk can have a detrimental impacting on your brain? and that switching to more positive language can actually increase your cognitive functioning, help you to deal better with stress and improve your general wellbeing?- Well it sure can!
So, how does negative talk and thoughts affect our brain…
Negative talk and thoughts can actually interfere with the production of the neurochemicals that are needed to protect us from stress. Just hearing negative words increases the amount of stress producing hormones in the brain which can impact on the way we communicate, process language and how we reason.
Negative or fear producing words can increase activity in the part of your brain (the amygdala) that decodes emotions and detects danger. Although not directly responsible for causing you to feel fearful the increased activity can kick start a type of fear response ( secretion of chemicals) in the brain which in turn floods the entire body with fear producing hormones; a chain reaction response that triggers your adrenals, cortisol release and your flight or fight response.
Our brains are incredible things but they do have this annoying tendency to want to focus on the negative side of things. This dates back to the survival strategy of our ancestral days where we had to keep a look out for danger. Although, in modern times we no longer need to have our antenna up quite so regularly, our brains still naturally like to go there- the tendency to focus on the negative side of things is a kinda throwback to past times, a hard-wiring that our brains can’t seem to forget and so it gets tricked us into perceiving negative/fearful words and thoughts as threats.
Now, I’m not trying to go all scare-mongery (is that even a word?) or depressive. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to have some kind of seismic response every time you hear or use words like ‘No’ ‘death’ or ‘can’t’ but focusing on trying to bring more positive language in your daily life has been proved to be beneficial for the brain’s health and overall wellbeing.
|So while our brains might want to go all Paleo, fight or flight on us in a response to this form of negativity, the good news is just like muscles our brains can be trained. By learning to hold more positive words in our minds and use positive language we can transform our outlook on life and even our reality…Woah, how about that!
Ok, so I’m fully signed up member of thoughts create things but if this seem all a bit too woo woo for your liking, here’s what Andrew Newberg MD and Mark Robert Waldman have to say in their book ‘Words can Change You Brain’ – Maybe the science will convince you.
‘By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action. And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain. Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with. A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others, whereas a negative self-image will include you toward suspicion and doubt. Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.’
How to make words work for you?
- Audit– Take the time to really check-in with the words and phrases you are using in your everyday interactions along with the thoughts and self-talk.
- Positive words- Place post it notes with positive messages (just like in the image) where they will catch your eye.
- Lay off the Self-Depreciation & Self-Criticism– Give belittling your actions, behaviour and achievements in the name of humour a rest. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the same amount of compassion, empathy and kindness you’d give to others.
- Spend less time with Debbie Downers – limit the amount of time you spend with people who like nothing better than to have a good moan.
- Ramp up your vocab– try to enthuse some more. Swap words like ‘great’ for ‘brilliant’ ‘fabulous’ or ‘fantastic’.
- Give up the gossip– Gossiping will often bring out the worse in you… I doubt there any positive words attached to this pastime! Sometimes we find it hard to resist but have a go at reducing the amount of time you spend talking or commenting on others lives in a negative way.
- Social media rants – Do you REALLY need to?…enough said.
- Rumination– Going over and over negative interactions and repeatedly replaying what was said only releases those damaging neuro thingy majigs. Instead focus on something positive actions you can take.
- Gratitude– Bring some more gratitude into your daily routine, start and end every day with three things you are grateful for. Keep a journal, research shows people who kept a gratitude journal for a period of three months reported increased levels of happiness.
So the upshot is, thinking, using and surrounding yourself with more positive words can potentially make you happier, improve your interactions with others, boost your self-image and generally help to make life look rosier…What’s not to love!
Change your thoughts, change your talk, change your life
Is it time to shake things up, discover your passions, renew, refresh and reconnect with yourself? Why not book a free 30 min discovery session with me. Learn more here