5 ways to overcome negative internal dialogue and 6 major advantages of positive internal dialogue
The inner dialogue or internal dialogue is part of our life.
Since our birth we sometimes use it well, sometimes badly to describe the experiences of our life, to give meaning to our existence or to seek solutions to the problems we face daily.
In this article, I will present six major advantages of positive internal dialogue.
But first of all, I will propose some basic notions about internal dialogue and I will give you 6 tips to get out of the negative internal dialogue.
Before moving on to the tips, I would like to remind you that you can take advantage of the expertise of a coach from our coaching firm to reach your goals more easily and quickly.
Some general information on internal dialogue
Definition of internal dialogue
Internal dialogue” is a communication process that individuals can engage in internally as if two people were involved. It reflects different aspects of the self – usually those with different or opposite orientations – that act as if in dissociation from each other (Progoff, 1975).
Research that assesses both positive and negative cognition suggests that functional groups are characterized by a 1.7:1 ratio of positive to negative self-reports (positive dialogue), while mildly dysfunctional groups show a 1:1 ratio (internal dialogue of conflict). Moreover, such studies consistently show that negative cognitions, compared to positive ones, weigh more heavily on functional distinction than dysfunctional groups and are more likely to change in psychotherapy (Kendall & Hollon, 1981; Mavissakalian, Michelson, Greenwald, Kornblith & Greenwald, 1983; Safran, 1982; Schwartz & Gottman, 1976), in Schwartz (1986).
Different types of internal dialogue
Oleś (2009), in Sobol-Kwapinska, Oleś & Stokłosadivise (2018) divides internal dialogues according to the objectives they serve. There are:
(a) identity dialogues, trying to answer questions about one’s personality and identity;
(b) supportive dialogues, which aim to provide support and comfort;
(c) ruminant dialogues, in which various hurtful life experiences are remembered (often occurring without the intention or ability to stop them);
(d) dissociative dialogues, which focus on situations of disagreement or conflict;
(e) simulations of real-life dialogues, aimed at practicing social skills;
(f) and adopting different points of view, judging a situation from different angles.
I now suggest you discover my 5 tips for overcoming negative inner dialogue.
5 tips to overcome negative internal dialogue
1 – Focus on the present and the opportunities it can bring you
Research shows that a focus on the “here and now,” combined with an awareness of the value and uniqueness of the present moment, are significantly and positively associated with identity and supportive dialogue, as well as the consideration of another point of view.
Negative internal dialogue can therefore be avoided or at least reduced by focusing on the present situation you are experiencing now and the opportunities that the current reality can bring you.
In other words, focusing on the past and thinking that your present will be equal to your past will block you in an unproductive negative internal dialogue that will prevent you from enjoying your life to the fullest.
2 – Focus on what is up to you
Another effective way to get rid of negative internal dialogue is to focus on what is in your control.
Doing this gives you a sense of control, even mastery, over the events and emotions you are experiencing in relation to these same situations.
These new emotions and positive sensations lead you to take new actions to act directly on your difficulties.
As a result, you maximize your chances of winning face to the ups and downs of your personal and professional life.
In the end, this behavior has a positive effect as much on self-esteem as on self-confidence.
On the other hand, focusing on what is out of your control will increase your stress as much as your anxiety and will prevent you from taking the necessary actions to change your life for the better. Moreover, it will have a negative impact on your identity, i.e. on your conception of yourself.
3 – Focus on your past accomplishments
Some people tend to give less importance to their past accomplishments, especially when these events took place several years ago.
If you find yourself in this description, I suggest that you write a list of your most important accomplishments that you are proud of.
You can choose personal or professional situations.
After writing this list, keep it close to you and read it from time to time during your day.
Doing so will help you remember your abilities, build self-confidence and allow you to benefit from more constructive internal dialogue.
4 – Focus on the possibilities of the future
Looking at the future can be a source of stress or anxiety or on the contrary an incredible resource capable of releasing your potential and unlimited energies.
One way to use the future to your advantage is to visualize or perceive in advance all the multiple opportunities that the future will bring you.
You can think about your personal or professional life.
Doing this is important to develop a vision of the future you would like to experience.
It is also an opportunity to use your imagination to open yourself up to new opportunities and protect yourself from the potential risks of other situations.
It is also an opportunity to understand if what you dream will make you truly happy.
5 – Give a different meaning to events
Some individuals feel they are stuck in their lives because of the difficulties of their present.
However, in reality what limits them is their past.
An effective way to move from negative to positive internal dialogue is to give a different meaning to the events of your past.
In this way, it becomes possible to start your life again on a new basis and to allow yourself to take the actions that are essential to your professional and personal success.
Now that you have just discovered my 5 tips to transform negative internal dialogue into positive, constructive and productive dialogue, I invite you to discover the 6 major advantages of practicing positive internal dialogue.
6 major advantages of positive internal dialogue
1 – Facilitates problem solving
Kendall & Hollon, in Morin (1995) propose that internal dialogue can be used for problem solving. For this, they propose 4 categories of self-verbalization for:
- formulating a precise definition of the problem
- promote an effective approach to the problem
- help the subject focus on the problem
- evaluate his actions either to congratulate himself if he finds a good solution, or to readjust his strategy if he makes a mistake
In summary, positive internal dialogue facilitates problem solving because it allows:
- to take into account the multiple aspects of a situation
- to implement action-oriented coping strategies in order to find a solution or even relevant solutions
- to facilitate the passage to action and the confrontation with the reality of the effectiveness of these actions
2 – Promotes behavioral change
Active imagination” as described by Jung corresponds closely to the concept of “internal dialogue”, and we suggest that the following four steps described by Jungian theorist Robert Johnson can be used when the method is used for lifestyle change (Johnson, 1984), in Goldstein & Kenen (1988):
The person sits quietly and invites inner drama to appear, possibly beginning with a statement and exploration of a problem such as concern about the health problems posed by smoking. Two or more parts of a dialogue can then be identified.
The dialogue continues until some resolution or compromise in the form of a solution that meets the basic requirements of both sides is identified.
The ethical aspects of the two positions are examined with regard to personal values and social rules.
The results or agreements reached in the “internal dialogue” are expressed in everyday life.
Summarizing the positive inner dialogue allows:
- manage and resolve the internal conflicts of the individual
- develop a global vision of the situation we are experiencing
- Implement actions that make sense because they are consistent with personal values and social rules
3 – Reinforces self-confidence
Hatzigeorgiadis & al. (2008) show that internal dialogue helps build self-confidence and reduce anxiety.
Positive internal dialogue makes it possible, as we saw previously, to develop a broader vision of the situation that each individual is experiencing.
This broader vision makes it possible to act in a way that is consistent with what is important to the person.
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The individual becomes more confident, develops greater confidence in his or her potential and in life.
As a result, there is a reduction in stress and anxiety determined by an overly pessimistic perception of the future.
4 – Improves the management and regulation of emotions
Orvell & al (2019) show that practicing internal dialogue by distancing oneself from the situation and using the expression you instead of I can facilitate the regulation of emotions.
The emotions we feel are the result of a mental portrait that emerges according to our choices.
With a more objective perception of reality and a focus on what is under one’s control, each person regains greater confidence in his or her abilities.
The focus is then directed towards the opportunities of the external world and on the individual’s internal innate potential.
This ideal combination promotes the perception, recognition and functional regulation of emotions.
In turn, this better regulation allows the restarting of behavioral automatisms that promote the success and well-being of the individual.
5 – Facilitates better self-awareness
Morin (2005) shows that the practice of internal dialogue helps to strengthen self-awareness.
After all these benefits of positive internal dialogue, it is not surprising that it promotes self-awareness.
By self-awareness, we mean the ability to have an objective look at our own emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Internal dialogue broadens the perception of the individual who practices it, whereas the opposite is true for negative internal dialogue.
This widened vision makes it possible to overcome mental blockages such as beliefs, internal conflicts, dysfunctional identity, in general any problem in terms of self-esteem.
It is as if somewhere the individual becomes able to perceive the stereotyped and henceforth fixed vision of himself.
The internal dialogue helps him to find a new mental flexibility allowing him to access more to his innate potential.
6 – Internal dialogue and performance
Neck & Manz (1992) show that internal dialogue can influence performance in different areas.
Finally, positive internal dialogue leads to improved performance.
Probably this happens by the fact that the individual develops a better attentional focus on his or her resources.
This leads to a deep awareness of what he is really capable of.
The individual is more motivated to surpass himself and becomes able to better integrate temporary failures into his professional and personal life.
This habit of pushing one’s limits leads over time to better performance and results.
Conclusion on internal dialogue
Internal dialogue is a natural process that each of us uses throughout our lives, both at work and at home.
The appropriate use of internal dialogue allows each person to act effectively on their emotions, thoughts and actions.
This leads the individual to a clearer understanding of situations and choices that will enable him or her to act usefully on reality.
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