When you think of communication, what do you imagine? For most of us, we conjure up an image of two people talking to one another, engaging in a conversation. However, in addition to this interpersonal dialogue, we are also always communicating with ourselves. We sometimes do this through self-talk – the things that we say to ourselves out loud or the inner dialogue that runs through our minds. Beyond this, our choices of behavior, our thoughts, and even how we allow others to treat us, are important communications to ourselves, from ourselves.

Developing effective ways of communicating well with yourself is an imperative aspect of overall health and happiness. Here are 5 ways to encourage healthy self-communication that you can integrate into your life today.

  1. Say your name. Research has found that people who use their own name rather than “I” when engaging in positive self-talk are actually more supportive and encouraging to themselves. Try it! Use your first name and say, for example, “Tim, you can do this. It’s only a speech, and you have done dozens of them before.” Studies suggest that speaking in the third person creates a kind of mental distance that allows for more objectivity, and, therefore, more rational self-support to occur.
  2. Be assertive. You communicate self-respect when you advocate for yourself. If you find that your core needs are not being met or that you are in a situation that is not life affirming for you, by asserting your needs, working to change your situation, or confronting an unhealthy interpersonal dynamic, you communicate to yourself (and to others) that you honor yourself.
  3. Practice mindfulness. When you tune in to the present moment, you can access exactly how you are feeling or what you are thinking. Mindfulness helps you do this without judging what you are experiencing, allowing you to communicate openness and acceptance to yourself.
  4. Keep a journal. Journaling can be a highly effective way for you to gain insight into what you are thinking and feeling. It can also be a place for you to communicate positive and affirmative messages to yourself.
  5. Visual cues. Put encouraging and helpful messages to yourself in places you normally go throughout your day. You can put a slip of paper with a positive affirmation on it in your desk drawer, taped to your bathroom mirror, or in your wallet. These visual reminders can help you practice healthy communication with yourself.

Author: Rachel Goldsmith, MSMFT