The Brain (pt. 4): Self-Talk

Self-Talk: According to several sources, self-talk is the act of conversing with oneself, either mentally, verbally, or through actions, occasionally motivating oneself to accomplish something. Verbal or mental examples of these can be:

Positive:

  • I can do this
  • Lookin’ good!
  • I’ve gotten better at that
  • Take a deep breath

Negative:

  • I’m so useless
  • I will never measure up
  • Dumb idea
  • Just blend in with the crowd

Let me give you a taste of what positive self-talk does for your brain, from a science perspective. Since we are mainly focusing on how the brain works in this series, I’d like to stick to factual science, rather than the emotional benefits to positive self-talk:

One way that I’ve learned about how memory is processed in our brains: it is similar making pathways, or ruts, in our brains. We have positive pathways and negative pathways. The more we think a thought, the pathway is driven deeper. This means when we think, “I am awesome!” we build pathways in our brain toward that particular thought. It’s like ruts in a road. They get deeper as they gets used. But then when we think negative thoughts such as, “I’m just not good enough,” that road can also be driven deeper into our brain, solidifying the negative or untrue thought.

It used to be thought that brains could not be changed after a certain period of time in human life or if something too traumatic happened. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a scientist originally from South Africa, researched a lot about the validity of being able to change the brain. If you’d like to learn more about this, I’d recommend the book, Switch On Your Brain, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. I’ll also share a video on Saturday from one of her Ted Talks. She explains to the everyday human how our brain works and what we can do to build positive memory tracks in our brains.

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