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1. Ready

What is self-talk?

Self-talk is your internal dialogue: An inner voice that provides an endless stream of commentary about your experiences, ideas, actions, and accomplishments. Your self-talk is a combination of conscious thoughts and unconscious beliefs and biases that help the brain process and interpret information. In general, self-talk is classified as either positive or negative:

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Positive Self-talk
Positive self-talk provides encouragement and support, increases confidence, facilitates perseverance and growth, and tends to be more optimistic

Ex. “I can do anything I put my mind to”, “I am proud of myself for trying”, “Tomorrow is a new day”, or “I am enough”
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Negative Self-talk
Negative self-talk can be destructive and dysfunctional. It commonly involves self-blame (i.e. personalization), anticipating the worst (i.e. catastrophizing), filtering out positive experiences, or failing to consider the middle ground (i.e. polarizing)

Ex. “There’s no way this will work”, “I am a failure”, “It’s too complicated”, “I can’t believe I did that”, or “My life is over”

Fortunately, everyone can tune into their mind chatter and learn to change negative thinking into positive thinking. The process of changing self-talk is simple, but it takes a lot of time, practice, and patience – like changing any other bad habit.

NOTE: This lesson teaches children how to develop awareness for their self-talk without teaching students how to change their self-talk. Throughout the rest of the program, students will learn skills, techniques, and tips for changing self-talk but today, students will simply learn how to tune into their mind chatter. After all, you need to be aware of your self-talk before you can change it.

Why is it important to be aware of your self-talk?

Studies have found that the way you talk to yourself significantly affects your physical and mental health. Concerning physical health, positive thinking styles are associated with
stronger immune systems, Cohen, M., Alper, J., Doyle, J., Treanor, B., & Turner, B. (2006). Positive Emotional Style Predicts Resistance to Illness After Experimental Exposure to Rhinovirus or Influenza A Virus. Psychosomatic Medicine, 68(6), 809–815.
better
cardiovascular health Roy, V., Diez-Roux, V., Seeman, V., Ranjit, V., Shea, V., & Cushman, V. (2010). Association of Optimism and Pessimism With Inflammation and Hemostasis in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(2), 134–140.
and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, as well as
higher quality of life. Applebaum, A., Stein, E., Lord‐Bessen, J., Pessin, H., Rosenfeld, B., & Breitbart, W. (2014). Optimism, social support, and mental health outcomes in patients with advanced cancer. Psycho‐Oncology, 23(3), 299–306.
Positive thinking styles are also widely recognized as a
protective factor Applebaum, A., Stein, E., Lord‐Bessen, J., Pessin, H., Rosenfeld, B., & Breitbart, W. (2014). Optimism, social support, and mental health outcomes in patients with advanced cancer. Psycho‐Oncology, 23(3), 299–306.
against depression, anxiety, and distress.
Self-talk training interventions Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Galanis, E., & Theodorakis, Y. (2011). Self-Talk and Sports Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(4), 348–356.
have even been used as “a strategy to facilitate learning and enhance performance”.

In school, self-talk directly influences
academic engagement and achievement: Callicott, K., & Park, H. (2003). Effects of Self-Talk on Academic Engagement and Academic Responding. Behavioral Disorders, 29(1), 48–64.
After receiving “self-talk training”, students with emotional and behavioural disorders were more engaged and responsive to educational pursuits. Similarly,
children with learning disabilities Kamann, M. P., & Wong, B. Y. (1993). Inducing adaptive coping self-statements in children with learning disabilities through self-instruction training. Journal of learning disabilities, 26(9), 630–638.
showed higher math performance after learning positive self-talk strategie. Based on the benefits of many other self-talk interventions,
researchers and educators Lee, S. (2011). Exploring seven- to eight-year-olds’ use of self-talk strategies. Early Child Development and Care, 181(6), 847–856.
agreed that “self-talk is an important tool used by children to regulate their thinking and behaviour” and that “self-talk could play an important role in children’s socio-emotional competence and creative problem solving” skills.

In her book, “Taming the Negative Introject: Empowering Patients to Take Control of Their Mental Health”,
Carol Berman Berman, C. (2019). Taming the negative introject: Empowering patients to take control of their mental health. New York: Routledge.
compares negative self-talk to “a psychic form of autoimmunity in which [you] turn against [yourself] and destroy [yourself]” – there is no way to more clearly summarize the destructive and debilitating nature of negative self-talk.

Where can I learn more?

The Mayo Clinic, Positive Thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress

Psychology Today: Self-Talk Basics

TED Talk: The Power of Self Talk by Marc Cordon

TED Talk: The Secret to Changing Self-talk by Renewing Mindset by Bruce Pulver

TED Talk: Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and How to Get Unstuck) by Alison Ledgerwood

What will students learn?

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to…  

  • Clearly describe and recognize self-talk
  • Distinguish between positive and negative self-talk
  • Recognize the effects of positive and negative self-talk on thoughts, feelings, and actions
References
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Applebaum, A., Stein, E., Lord‐Bessen, J., Pessin, H., Rosenfeld, B., & Breitbart, W. (2014). Optimism, social support, and mental health outcomes in patients with advanced cancer. Psycho‐Oncology, 23(3), 299–306.

Berman, C. (2019). Taming the negative introject: Empowering patients to take control of their mental health. New York: Routledge.

Callicott, K., & Park, H. (2003). Effects of Self-Talk on Academic Engagement and Academic Responding. Behavioral Disorders, 29(1), 48–64.

Cohen, M., Alper, J., Doyle, J., Treanor, B., & Turner, B. (2006). Positive Emotional Style Predicts Resistance to Illness After Experimental Exposure to Rhinovirus or Influenza A Virus. Psychosomatic Medicine, 68(6), 809–815.

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Galanis, E., & Theodorakis, Y. (2011). Self-Talk and Sports Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(4), 348–356.

Kamann, M. P., & Wong, B. Y. (1993). Inducing adaptive coping self-statements in children with learning disabilities through self-instruction training. Journal of learning disabilities, 26(9), 630–638.

Lee, S. (2011). Exploring seven- to eight-year-olds’ use of self-talk strategies. Early Child Development and Care, 181(6), 847–856. 

Roy, V., Diez-Roux, V., Seeman, V., Ranjit, V., Shea, V., & Cushman, V. (2010). Association of Optimism and Pessimism With Inflammation and Hemostasis in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(2), 134–140.

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