You have the agency to broaden and build your survival brain’s constrictive “zoom lens” into a “wide-angle lens,” creating a perspective that broadens your range of vision to take in more information and free you from your mind’s limitations.
Related: The Power Of Self-Talk
During the 1990s, comedians mocked the notion of self-affirmations with tongue-in-cheek phrases such as, “I’m smart enough” or “I’m good enough.” Al Franken created and performed the fictional character, Stuart Smalley, on Saturday Night Live in a mock self-help show called Daily Affirmations—a psychotherapist’s nightmare.
Years since, otherwise willing clients have steered away from the off-putting idea of self-kindness and positive affirmations. The comedic antics of the 1990s stigmatized the practice with shame and embarrassment, which led the public to disavow the practice.
In 2014, enter Clayton Critcher and David Dunning at the University of California at Berkeley. The psychologists conducted a series of studies showing that positive affirmations function as “cognitive expanders,” bringing a wider perspective to diffuse the brain’s tunnel vision of self-threats.
Their findings show that affirmations help us transcend the zoom-lens mode by engaging the wide-angle lens of the mind. Self-affirmations helped research participants cultivate a long-distance relationship with their judgment voice and see themselves more fully in a broader self-view, bolstering their self-worth.
4. Relationships With Your “Parts”
When you notice you’re in an unpleasant emotional state—such as worry, anger, or frustration—holding these parts of you at arm’s length and observing them impartially as a separate aspect of you, activates your thrive talk (clarity, compassion, calm).
Thinking of them much as you might observe a blemish on your hand allows you to be curious about where they came from. Instead of pushing away, ignoring, or steamrolling over the unpleasant parts, the key is to acknowledge them with something like, “Hello frustration, I see you’re active today.” This simple acknowledgment relaxes the parts so you can face the real hardship—whatever triggered them in the first place.
This psychological distance flips the switches in your survive brain and thrive brain at which point you are calm, clear-minded, compassionate, perform competently, and have more confidence and courage.
There is a direct link between self-compassion and happiness, well-being, and success. The more self-compassion you have, the greater your emotional arsenal.
Studies from the University of Wisconsin show that meditation cultivates compassion and kindness, affecting brain regions that make you more empathetic to other people. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers discovered that positive emotions such as loving-kindness and compassion can be developed in the same way as playing a musical instrument or being proficient in a sport. The imaging revealed that brain circuits used to detect emotions were dramatically changed in subjects who had extensive practice in compassion meditation.
Other studies show that the expression of empathy has far-reaching effects in your personal and professional lives. Employers who express empathy are more likely to retain employees, amp up productivity, reduce turnover, and create a sense of belonging in the company. If you cultivate the habit of speaking with loving-kindness, you change the way your brain fires at the moment.
Studies show when abrasive, survive self-talk attacks you, it reduces your chances of rebounding and ultimately success. Instead of coming down hard on yourself, loving-kindness helps you bounce back quicker. Forgiving yourself for previous slip-ups such as procrastination, for example, offsets further procrastination. A survey of 119 Carleton University students who forgave themselves after procrastinating on the first midterm exam was less likely to delay studying for the second one.
When we talk ourselves off the ledge (as I did in the snowstorm) using self-distancing, compassion, and positive self-talk, we perform better at tasks and recover more quickly from defeat or setbacks—regardless of how dire the circumstances.
Critcher, C. R., & Dunning, D. (2015). Self-affirmations provide a broader perspective on self-threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(1), 3–18.
Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Discover the upward spiral that will change your life. New York: Crown.
Kross, E. (2014). Self-talk as a regulatory mechanism: How you do it matters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106 304-324.
Moser, J.S. et. al. (2017). Third-person self-talk facilitates emotion regulation without engaging cognitive control: Converging evidence from ERP and fMRI. Scientific Reports, 7, 4519. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-04047-3Scientific Reports, 7, 2017.
Written by Bryan Robinson
Originally Appeared In Psychology Today
Being kind to yourself, and treating yourself in a positive way is key to being confident, and happy. Whenever you are feeling down, or stressed out don’t be too hard on yourself, and look towards these types of self-talk. This will help you get out of that negative zone, and overcome the undesirable situation that you are in, in a much better and effective way.
If you want to know more about the importance of positive self-talk, then check this video out below: