Self Help

Self-Talk for a Calmer You - Beverly Flaxington

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Matheus Puppe

· 22 min read



Here is a summary of the key points from “Self-Talk for a Calmer You”:

  • The book teaches how to use positive self-talk to manage anxiety and live a happier, more relaxed life. Negative self-talk can exacerbate anxiety, while positive self-talk can help calm anxiety.

  • About 20-30% of people experience some form of anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Anxiety can affect health and quality of life if not managed.

  • Anxiety has causes like negative life experiences, trauma, disappointments, or using anxiety as a misguided coping mechanism to avoid future pain. These things convince people the world isn’t safe.

  • Negative self-talk plays a role in increased anxiety about circumstances and can deepen anxious responses. Positive self-talk allows one to overcome obstacles and problems.

  • The book aims to help readers recognize triggers of anxiety, identify negative self-talk patterns, and replace them with positive, calming self-talk scripts. Keeping a journal is recommended to track progress.

  • Self-talk is an internal dialogue or monologue that interprets events. Changing this dialogue can change anxiety levels and how one responds to challenges in life. The book provides tools and exercises to develop positive self-talk habits.

  • Some people suffer from a form of anxiety called “the blahs,” which is a free-floating feeling that something is wrong, but they can’t pinpoint what exactly. This type of everyday anxiety can negatively impact mental health, emotions, physical health and steal joy from life.

  • In addition to everyday anxiety, there are diagnosed anxiety disorders like panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, social anxiety disorder, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.

  • Anxiety is different from fear in that fear has a specific trigger or cause, while anxiety is more vague and a lingering sense that something bad may happen without knowing what.

  • Negative self-talk can be a source of anxiety, where people say negative things to themselves that then make them feel worse and fuel anxious feelings. Identifying negative self-talk patterns is an important part of addressing anxiety.

  • Understanding where one’s anxiety comes from, whether experiences, stressors, past trauma or negative thinking patterns, is the first step to addressing it effectively. Changing self-talk from negative to positive can help reduce anxiety over time.

  • Negative self-talk can become very familiar and internalized, to the point where you don’t realize it’s there. It often plays on fears and insecurities.

  • While difficult, changing negative self-talk to positive self-talk can help manage anxiety. The first step is recognizing what negative thoughts you have in difficult situations.

  • Common themes of negative self-talk include struggles at work, relationships, health, finances, etc. But anyone can experience negative thoughts even when things are going well, focusing on potential problems.

  • To change self-talk, imagine alternative positive perspectives, like appreciating relationships rather than dwelling on flaws. Repeating positive self-talk can change emotional and behavioral responses over time.

  • Identifying your own areas of negative thinking, through exercises like rating anxiety levels about different life areas, is important to begin addressing unhelpful thought patterns. The goal is recognizing how self-talk impacts you.

In summary, negative self-talk feeds anxiety but can be addressed by increasing awareness of thought patterns and substituting more balanced, optimistic perspectives when difficulties arise.

  • The exercise asks you to identify situations, subjects, or thoughts that induce anxiety for you on a scale of 1-10. For anything 5 or higher, write about your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to that subject. This provides insight into negative self-talk patterns.

  • You are then instructed to write the anxiety-inducing subjects on index cards to record negative self-talk used when thinking about those subjects over the next 2-3 weeks.

  • The next step is to assess how anxiety impacts you - emotionally, mentally, physically. Fill out a worksheet listing anxiety-inducing subjects and the impacts related to each. If you’re unsure how impacts relate to subjects, start by just listing impacts and when/why you experience them.

  • Common anxiety-inducing situations are provided as prompts to help identify impacts. Notice any themes in what stresses you.

  • The goal is to gather objective data on your reactions, not make judgments. See yourself as a scientist collecting information.

  • Positive self-talk is introduced as a way to change perspective and build confidence, like the Little Engine That Could. The key is recognizing where negative self-talk occurs and replacing it with positive, strengths-based statements.

The main point is to closely examine anxiety-inducing subjects, negative self-talk patterns, and impacts through journaling exercises. This provides self-awareness, which is needed before implementing techniques to develop more positive self-talk.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • Self-talk is how we interpret and make sense of situations and events based on our past experiences and beliefs. It often happens automatically without us realizing it.

  • A simple, innocuous event like finding a note from your boss can trigger very different self-talk and reactions depending on your previous experiences with that boss or attitudes towards authority.

  • Thirteen common triggers for anxiety and negative self-talk were listed, such as job stress, relationship problems, health issues, fears about the future, etc. Seeing if any of those resonate as personal triggers.

  • A case study example was given of a woman named Alice who left her previous abusive boss job for a new one due to the daily triggered anxiety and distress from her boss’s verbal criticisms and put-downs. Her old job was clearly a major trigger for her negative self-talk and stress reactions.

The key message is that by becoming aware of our automatic self-talk and common triggers, we can better understand how our interpretations are formed and start making conscious choices to respond differently through more positive self-talk when those trigger situations arise.

Alice got a new job at a bank and was happy with the commute and possibility for career growth. On her fourth day, her boss sent her a short email pointing out a small error in one of her memos and asking her to redo it. This triggered feelings of anxiety and negativity for Alice based on her past experience with criticism at a previous job. She had intense physical reactions like trembling and shaking.

However, Alice was aware of how her past experiences influenced her mindset. With effort, she redirected her thoughts to be more positive. She recognized the request was minor and told herself she was good at her job and could fix the error. Over time by proofreading her work carefully, Alice gained her boss’s trust and moved up to a higher position within six months. The key was recognizing when triggers activated negative thought patterns due to past experiences, and consciously choosing to think in a more constructive way.

  • It’s important to make a commitment to shifting from negative to positive self-talk. Write down your commitment on a card to remind yourself.

  • Complete assessments to identify your specific triggers and sources of anxiety. Understanding these is key to addressing your negative self-talk patterns.

  • Choose a method to track instances of negative self-talk, like keeping a journal or using notes/sticky notes. Refer to these daily to look for patterns.

  • Review the book’s contents and identify which chapters and strategies could be most helpful based on your situation. Read these carefully and extract steps to apply.

  • Write down the positive self-talk steps you will take when negative thoughts arise. Keep these accessible to use in the moment.

  • Schedule times to practice positive self-talk exercises like deep breathing and affirmations so they become a habit. Practice makes it easier to turn to these skills.

  • Create a written plan integrating the strategies you want to try. Schedule activities like self-hypnosis into your calendar to commit to changing habits and shifting your self-talk.

The key takeaways are to make a firm commitment, understand your triggers, track negative self-talk, extract applicable positive strategies, write an action plan, and schedule practice to strengthen new habits over time. Planning and commitment are important for achieving real change.

Here is a summary of the key points from the provided text about using positive self-talk to improve relationships:

  • Relationships are crucial to our happiness but can also be a major source of stress, anxiety and conflict due to negative self-talk.

  • It’s important to examine the relationships in your life and identify any problems or unhappiness. Negative self-talk can turn positive feelings into negative ones.

  • Common issues include dealing with conflict, expressing needs/wants to your partner, and difficulty dealing with loss or divorce.

  • The steps outlined are: envision the positive relationship you want, use visualization to imagine positive feelings, and practice positive self-talk phrases that affirm your worth and ability to have fulfilling relationships.

  • Positive self-talk should counter the negative thoughts and feelings that pull relationships off track, like “I deserve a good relationship” or “It’s important to openly communicate my views.”

So in summary, it advocates using visualization, identifying positive goals, and replacing negative self-talk with empowering affirmations as ways to make relationships better and overcome anxiety through a change in mindset and communication style.

The key steps in working through a relationship issue using positive self-talk are:

  1. Identifying obstacles in the relationship and having open communication to work on solving them together.

  2. Focusing on what you want from the relationship rather than what’s wrong.

  3. Maintaining a positive attitude and belief that the relationship can work through finding new ways to contribute positively.

  4. Visualizing a positive interaction and choosing empowering self-talk statements to reinforce this vision. Repeating positive self-talk to help make the vision a reality.

  5. Observing reactions and using self-talk to address triggers, staying committed to a positive approach even when it’s difficult.

When dealing with loss in a relationship, the steps are:

  1. Identifying how the loss affects you and your emotions around it.

  2. Committing to move past grieving into the next phase of life.

  3. Filling the void left by the loss by connecting with others and pursuing new activities/opportunities.

  4. Using consistent positive self-talk focused on hope, fulfillment, and openness to new opportunities to support moving forward.

The key is using self-talk intentionally and repeatedly to reinforce a positive vision of the relationship or move beyond loss, with open communication, commitment, and taking action to fill voids.

  • Loss and disappointment are natural parts of life that can potentially cause anxiety and negative self-talk. But you have a choice in how you respond.

  • The case study examines Louise, who experienced disappointment after discovering her husband’s long-term affair. Like many, her initial reaction was negative self-blame and low self-esteem.

  • With counseling, Louise learned to turn her self-talk positive. She reflected on her realistic expectations in the relationship and forgave without judgment. Her positive self-talk focused on moving forward in a healthy, trusting way.

  • The chapter recommends visualizing forgiveness and positive outcomes. Pair this with repeated positive self-talk phrases to diminish anxiety and resentment over time.

  • Relationships are learning experiences. Choosing mental health over an anxious mind means guiding relationships through positive self-talk rather than being “right”.

  • Practicing these techniques for each challenging relationship helps build confidence and control over one’s responses. Workplace anxiety can also be addressed through applying positive self-talk habits discussed.

The passage discusses negative self-talk related to work and job hunting. It identifies how some people derive their self-worth from their work, while others work just to survive. Since work takes up so much of each day, it inevitably shapes one’s life.

The passage encourages taking charge of one’s self-talk and reframing how you think about your work or job search. It provides examples of common negative self-talk people use in situations like job hunting, being anxious about seeking a new job, or feeling rejected after interviews.

It explains how negative self-talk can be a way to protect oneself from perceived judgment or rejection. The passage advises assessing one’s current self-talk using prompts like confidence in interviews. It has the reader identify areas of negative self-talk and provides exercises to visualize past experiences and capture that negative dialog.

The passage emphasizes the importance of acknowledging one’s negative self-talk and being honest about the words and beliefs used. It then encourages “rewriting the script” by generating positive self-talk as an alternative way of framing expectations. It offers a step-by-step process for shifting from negative to positive self-talk related to work and job hunting experiences.

  • It’s important to turn your mindset towards the positive when dealing with anxiety, stress or negative thoughts. Focusing on the negative can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • The process involves clearing your mind of past negative experiences, envisioning success, practicing positive self-talk, and combining visualization and self-talk exercises on a regular basis.

  • An example is given of Angie, who is laid off and experiencing negative self-talk. She follows the four steps - envisioning her goals and ideal job, imagining success in interviews, choosing empowering self-talk statements, and putting it all together in a visualization exercise.

  • Using these techniques helps Angie shift to a more positive, confident mindset that serves her well in her job search. While it takes time, her positive outlook gives her an advantage.

  • The passage notes that dealing with difficult people at work is another common source of anxiety. While you can’t control others, the key is focusing on managing your own reactions and not internalizing what others say or do. Positive self-talk can help with challenging coworker or boss situations too.

  • Negative self-talk about difficult people at work impacts you and your experience at the job. Changing that self-talk can change how you interact with others.

  • Identify the specific person (or people) you struggle with at work. Write down your negative thoughts and feelings about them.

  • Try to understand their behavior objectively by considering possible reasons for it without judgment. Rewrite their behavior factually.

  • Practice positive self-talk using affirming statements about maintaining control over your own reactions and seeking to understand others.

  • Approach interactions with a positive mindset, expect a good outcome, and be willing to shift the dynamic. Repeatedly using positive self-talk can help break negative patterns.

  • Most people dislike conflict and feedback at work due to anxiety. Learning to address it constructively through preparation and self-talk can make it less stressful. Changing your internal dialogue is key to changing how you experience difficult people and situations.

The passage discusses using positive self-talk to deal with conflicts and public speaking anxiety, which are important job skills. It provides steps to change negative self-talk patterns:

  1. Identify triggers that cause negative reactions like anxiety. Note physical responses and negative thoughts.

  2. Recognize the specific negative self-talk used, like “I’ll embarrass myself.”

  3. Imagine a positive outcome, like handling criticism confidently. Picture the details to feel more confident.

  4. Practice positive self-statements like “Conflict is a fact of life, I can deal professionally” or “I am calm and confident when public speaking.” Say affirmations while envisioning the positive outcome.

Reinforcing positive self-talk can help manage fears and limits from negative reactions to conflicts and public presentations. Managing triggers through positive framing opens more opportunities at work and in life. The key is changing limiting self-talk to build confidence facing challenges.

  • The passage provides guidance on using positive self-talk to help deal with difficult work conditions like too much workload, too much change, feeling like a cultural misfit, etc.

  • It encourages assessing the specific negative aspects of one’s work situation in order to identify inaccurate negative self-talk patterns.

  • A process is outlined for changing one’s frame or perspective through positive visualization of an ideal work mindset and rewriting negative self-talk with empowering affirmations.

  • Examples of positive self-talk statements are given like seeing one’s job as temporary, being able to confidently handle anything, feeling in control at work despite demands, etc.

  • The overall message is that positive reframing through self-talk can help improve one’s mental outlook and coping abilities even without changing the external work conditions themselves. Repeating empowering thoughts can counteract stress, unhappiness and feelings of being overwhelmed.

  • The passage discusses the challenges of making life changes and how negative self-talk can sabotage goals and progress. Bad habits are hard to break.

  • Self-talk has a huge impact - it can motivate action or make excuses to stall progress. Changing negative thought patterns is important for lasting change.

  • When facing life changes, taking charge of self-talk can help manage the experience. Positive self-talk provides support and confidence.

  • The key is being aware of negative self-talk and replacing it with empowering messages. You have control over the voices you listen to internally.

  • Making desired changes involves setting clear goals, overcoming resistance through positive self-talk, and taking consistent steps toward progress. Managing thought patterns is an essential part of achieving personal goals and growth.

Here are the steps to practice positive self-talk for managing change:

If I could change anything in my life, I would change: My health and fitness level. I want to feel energetic and strong.

If I did what I want to do, success would look like this to me: I would lose 20 pounds and be able to run 5 miles. I would feel proud of my accomplishments and encouragement in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

When imagining this goal, I feel determined and optimistic. I can picture myself running outdoors on trails, feeling a sense of joy and freedom. Quantitatively, I would be at a healthy BMI and able to exercise for 30 minutes without stopping.

My worries about making this change include: Not having enough willpower or motivation. Feeling discouraged if I don’t see results right away.

My biggest fear about this change is: Not succeeding and giving up.

The words I use to describe my fear/worry/concern about this change include: Doubt, failure, discouragement.

I’m confident I can make this change because: I have the knowledge and resources to make healthier choices. I am determined to improve my well-being.

I have done similar things in the past like: Quit smoking through willpower and support from friends/family.

This is an important change for me to make because: It will improve my quality of life and allow me to be more active.

What I can do to overcome my concerns: Find an accountability partner. Celebrate small wins instead of only the end goal. Remind myself that slip-ups don’t mean failure.

The tools/resources I possess: A home gym, walking shoes, fitness apps, cookbooks with healthy recipes. Support from family and friends.

  • Managing stress and using positive self-talk go hand-in-hand. Negative self-talk increases stress levels, while stress feeds more negative thinking.

  • To better manage stress, identify your stress triggers - what situations cause you anxiety? This is where negative self-talk comes in and limits your options.

  • Notice when negative self-talk kicks in during stressful times so you can catch it. Switch to more positive self-talk statements instead.

  • Stress often manifests physically - through panic attacks, heightened physical sensations, tics or other physical reactions. Identifying your body’s stress patterns is helpful.

  • The goal is to stop negative self-talk before it starts during stressful episodes. Shake off negativity physically if needed. Consistently practice positive self-talk over at least 21 days to establish a new habit.

  • With awareness of triggers and patterns, and by replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations, one can better cope with stressful situations and feel less drained from unwanted stress over time. It’s a process of catching and changing unhelpful thinking habits.

  • The writer experiences panic attacks when driving late at night on the highway. During the attacks, they perspire, hyperventilate and have a hard time focusing on driving. Opening the window helps.

  • The writer is advised to start a journal to note physical reactions, feelings, and patterns when panic attacks occur. This will help recognize signs and triggers.

  • It’s important to be able to recognize the onset of physical stress symptoms so different choices can be made. Understanding personal reactions is key.

  • Triggers that lead to negative self-talk should also be questioned and identified if possible.

  • Negative physical reactions are described as “visitors” and not belonging to the person. Positive self-talk can help uninvite them.

  • A list of potential positive self-talk phrases is provided to circle and practice as mantras when stress occurs.

  • A daily meditation practice of controlled breathing, mantra repetition and relaxation is recommended to have coping tools ready.

  • A case study example is given of someone using positive self-talk and meditation to manage panic attacks effectively over time.

  • Carrying reminder cards and continual practice is emphasized to most easily access helpful mantras during stressful episodes.

The passage discusses how to use positive self-talk to help manage stress and anxiety around difficult life situations you know are coming or are currently dealing with. It recommends first identifying situations that typically stress you out, like driving at night if you have panic attacks.

It then suggests practicing positive self-talk statements for those situations in advance. The passage also notes that while positive thinking won’t make bad things not happen, it can help you get through difficulties with a better attitude and focus.

It prompts the reader to think of an upcoming stressful event and analyze their negative self-talk and expectations around it. Then it encourages identifying personal strengths and resources to cope. Importantly, it challenges commonly held beliefs about inevitability of negative outcomes.

The passage guides writing two possible positive alternative scenarios and reminds that stressful situations often have both positive and negative aspects. The goal is to loosen attachment to only foreseeing negatives. Positive self-talk can help direct reactions and keep exploring possible outcomes, rather than feeling defeated from the start. Overall, the key message is positive self-talk can boost resilience when facing life’s difficulties.

The passage discusses the issue of everyday stress and how it can build up over time in insidious ways. It notes that stress levels seem to be increasing for the average person as jobs require being connected and responding to information at all hours, and people struggle with managing their time and completing all their tasks and responsibilities.

It then discusses how everyday stress can creep in through small irritations and negative events during the day. The key problem is how people often react to these events with negative self-talk, which fuels more stress and negative emotions. Small triggers like traffic or long lines can lead to thoughts about how “awful” and “terrible” everything is.

The passage advocates becoming more aware of personal triggers and reactions through keeping a stress journal. This provides perspective on how events that seem hugely stressful in the moment often fade later. It also helps identify themes in stressors and common negative reactions.

The goal is then to incorporate positive self-talk, such as reframing events as learning opportunities and having power over one’s own reactions. Sample positive self-talk statements are provided to use in stressful situations. Practicing this approach can help step outside of the “tornado” of everyday stress and negative thoughts.

  • Negative self-talk can exacerbate stressful situations by fueling them emotionally. It’s better to choose a different path with positive self-talk.

  • When a negative event occurs, turn your attention to something positive like singing a song, looking at calming pictures, going for a walk, etc. to distract from negative self-talk.

  • It’s important to make time for self-care when stressed, but negative self-talk can prevent this. Use positive self-talk to redirect and set reasonable self-care goals.

  • Imagining yourself achieving goals and repeating positive self-talk can help you actually accomplish them. Goals should be specific, small steps like going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night.

  • Anxiety comes from unfinished tasks due to the Zeigarnik effect. Use positive self-talk to acknowledge you can’t finish everything and prioritize tasks.

  • Stop worrying about the clock and evaluate what’s really important on your to-do list to manage time better. Positive self-talk can help gain perspective.

The overall message is that positive self-talk can help manage stress, take better care of yourself, accomplish goals, finish tasks, and feel more in control of your time by countering negative self-talk patterns. Small, consistent changes with an optimistic mindset were emphasized.

Most important: Reordering your to-do list by priority. Prioritizing tasks based on importance allows you to focus your time and energy on what matters most. Breaking large tasks into smaller, discrete steps makes them feel more manageable. Estimating time frames for each task and step helps create a realistic schedule.

Least important: Writing positive affirmations or releasing stressors. While these can be beneficial, the core advice is around gaining control of your time by getting organized, prioritizing effectively, and breaking big tasks into smaller steps with timelines. Positive thinking and reducing stress are secondary to actually taking action on what’s most important through scheduling and accountability.

The key aspects are viewing your to-do list objectively, prioritizing by importance rather than keeping tasks in a random order, analyzing how to decompose large tasks, allocating realistic time estimates, and then committing the prioritized tasks and timeline to a calendar to stay on track. Minimizing distractions and saying no to unnecessary new tasks also helps maintain focus on completion.

The passage describes tools for using self-hypnosis and positive self-talk more effectively. It first outlines steps to enter a relaxed, meditative state through deep breathing and imagining a calm place. This allows establishing a personal “trigger” like touching fingers together to access that calm state anytime.

The second tool involves becoming more objective about one’s own thoughts by observing negative self-talk as a curious detective would, instead of reacting emotionally. This makes the thoughts less powerful and allows rewriting the script with a positive outcome.

The third tool discusses how negative self-talk often involves compelling stories that are gripping but unhelpful. It recommends becoming aware of these stories, recognizing how they evolve from situations, and intentionally telling oneself a different, more positive story with a happier ending instead of giving up. Storytelling can change deeply held views when used strategically to replace negative perspectives. The key is awareness of one’s thought patterns and intentionally choosing more constructive narratives.

The passage discusses different tools and techniques for challenging and replacing negative self-talk with more positive self-talk. It first encourages journaling about situations that upset you and identifying your negative thoughts. Then it suggests coming up with alternative, more positive stories about how those situations could develop.

Another tool is using the “STOP” technique - noticing when negative thoughts are happening, saying “STOP” out loud to interrupt the flow, and replacing them with positive thoughts or mantras. Finding a partner to talk through negative self-talk with is also recommended.

General affirmations are provided to have on hand for when negative thoughts come unexpectedly. The passage emphasizes having different tools available and testing out which work best in different situations since different techniques may be useful on different days. The overall message is about gaining awareness of negative self-talk and consciously challenging and replacing it with more constructive thought patterns.

  • Various tools like meditation, self-hypnosis, and storytelling can help calm anxiety, but use them appropriately based on the situation. For example, don’t use hypnosis while driving.

  • Check the time and place before using a tool to make sure it’s suitable. Use the right tool for the circumstances.

  • These techniques give you power over situations that previously caused anxiety. You can now respond in calmer ways.

  • Making the decision to start using these tools can help manage anxious thoughts. Have confidence that you can improve your mental state.

  • The journey to reducing anxiety takes effort but using the right strategies at the right times will help you make progress. Stay determined.

  • The passage provides background about the author, Beverly Flaxington, who is an expert in human behavior, stress management, hypnosis and helping people make changes.

  • She has published multiple bestselling books on these topics and trains people professionally. The book acknowledges those who helped produce it.

So in summary, it offers advice on different tools to manage anxiety and encourage the reader that they have power over their mental state if they apply the techniques judiciously. Determination is key to seeing results.

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About Matheus Puppe