Your inner voice


Self-talk

We all talk to ourselves.

From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, that voice inside your head can influence how you feel, how you act and how you manage your pain.

This self-talk can be helpful and positive – ‘it’s a beautiful day and a gentle walk in the park will help me loosen up after sitting all day’; or negative and unhelpful – ‘everything hurts and if I go for a walk it’ll make things worse’.

Negative self-talk can affect how you see yourself, your life and your future. It’s that pessimistic, critical voice that focuses on the bad.

Paying attention to your self-talk and changing negative thoughts to be more positive will help you deal with your pain more effectively.

When you hear yourself say something negative ask yourself: Is there any evidence for what I’m thinking? Am I keeping things in perspective? What can I do to change the thing I’m feeling negative about? Try and turn the negative around and put a positive and optimistic spin on it. It can be difficult, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Examples – Changing negative self-talk to positive

Negative – I’ve tried everything for my pain and nothing works.
Positive – Mindfulness seemed to help a bit, I should give it another go and practise more often.

Negative – I’m fat and my pain makes it impossible to lose weight.
Positive – I want to lose weight so that I feel better. I’ll talk with my doctor about ways I can do this.

Negative – My pain means I’ll never be able to travel like I’ve always wanted.
Positive – Travelling is more of a challenge, but with the help of my doctor and my pain management tools I can still see the world.

Negative – I’m a burden to my family.
Positive – My family loves and supports me.

Practise your self-talk regularly and you’ll find you feel more positive, confident and able to deal with your pain better.

Tips

  • Stick post-it notes around you with positive, upbeat messages – e.g. ‘I look great today!’; ‘I control my pain, it doesn’t control me’; ’exercise is fun and makes me feel good’.
  • When you have a negative thought about yourself – e.g. ‘I’m a burden to my family’ – ask yourself what you would say to a friend if they told you they thought that of themselves? We’re often kinder and have better perspective when we’re thinking of others.
  • If you wouldn’t say it to another person, don’t say it to yourself.
  • Surround yourself with positive, happy people. If you have friends or acquaintances who are constantly negative or critical, that can affect how you feel. Talk with them about how their attitude makes you feel, or limit the time you spend with them.

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