Power of Positive Self-Talk

My client Riah (name changed) is undergoing a divorce. She has a 9-month-old baby girl and in such cases, it’s usual for the client to want a family counseling session where the relationship issues can be worked out and the marriage restored. Riah, however, had a different request for me as a family therapist. She had accepted the fact that her marriage was beyond repair and felt the family therapy sessions would just prolong the pain of the separation process. What she wanted was my help in coping with the stress of litigation and managing the emotions and fears of fighting for child custody and alimony. I acceded to her request, grateful that half my work had been done by the client herself, that is, she had accepted the situation as it was. 

The first step in therapy is bringing the client to acceptance so that they can work upon preserving their mental wellbeing through the crisis situation. In Riah’s case, some of the mental health challenges she was facing were:

  • Anxiety about the future.
  • Fear of losing her social status as a divorcee.
  • Toxic blame game in court proceedings that left her feeling physically and mentally drained.
  • Regret for the past: marrying against her parent’s wishes, investing in the relationship emotionally, physically and financially. 
  • Ruminative thoughts about the past wrongdoings of her husband and his family members.

Clearly, she was in a state of distress and needed coping skills so she could hold herself together, and start a new and secure life for herself and her daughter. In our sessions, we talked about the various strategies that can help her in coping with stress. Knowing that a lot of women may be going through the same, I thought of sharing the first step she took that was a game-changer for her mental health. Riah committed to changing the dialogue she was having with herself. So, whenever she spoke about the distress she was facing, she was encouraged to change it to a slightly more rational and positive statement, and engage in ‘positive self-talk’:

“My life is a mess.”
Changed to:
“I am going through a difficult phase of life but things will get better.”

“I failed in keeping my marriage together.”   
Changed to:    
“Marriage is a partnership. I did the best I could. It’s not all my responsibility”. 

“I should have known this marriage would be a mistake, why didn’t I see the signs?”
Changed to:
“Everyone makes mistakes. We can never know the other person completely.”

“What will happen to my daughter?”
Changed to:
“My daughter and I will be each other’s strength. We will bring out the best in each other and lead a happy life.”

“How will I manage and cope with all this?”
Changed to:
“I have managed so well this far. I will be even better once out of this toxic relationship. I am only getting stronger.”    

“What will people think of me?”
Changed to:
“The world does have empathetic people, and they will understand and support me in their own ways. The rest I don’t have to be concerned about.”

While positive self-talk is just one of the many coping skills, it is immensely beneficial due to the elements of the statements. Positive self-talk is not positive affirmations that may not be based on the truth and may also be whimsical. It’s important for the mind to believe the positive statement for it to respond. It consists of:

  • Acceptance: Of the current situation as stressful.
  • Truth: It states the situation as it is.
  • Forgiveness and self-compassion: For making some mistakes.
  • Hope: That the situation will change for the better.
  • Futuristic: The current situation may be bad but the future is yet to happen and it can be good. 
  • Belief: That the world is not black or white, there will be bad as well as good people and circumstances.

Riah continues to consult me once every two weeks. It’s been very gratifying as a therapist to see her come a long way from the anxious person she was to the confident and composed person she has become now. 


Abhilasha Herr
Abhilasha Herr

Abhilasha Herr is a practicing counselling psychologist and is pursuing her Masters in Family Therapy. In her past life, her work as a Behavioural Skills trainer for more than a decade was instrumental in her quest to delve deeper into the science of facilitating real behavioural change. When she’s not helping
her clients, she can be found strumming her guitar or with a book in her favourite nook. She is currently living in snow-capped hills of Shimla with her golfer husband and soon to be teen, son.


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29 thoughts on “Power of Positive Self-Talk”

  1. Nice article.. Full of hope and belief.. We always need to think and act positive.. Try and see the silver lining to everything..

  2. Beautifully articulated. I myself being a therapist got so many insights. Thanks for writing Abhilasha. Proud of you. Keep writing.
    Love always
    Sonie

  3. Absolutely impressed by your approach of positive self talk… I’m sure it works wonders with all those going through tough times in their relationship struggles… Keep it up!

    1. Thank you for your feedback. Yes it’s one of the important factors that can bring down stress levels because stress comes from how we perceive things.

  4. Loved the write up as it brilliantly brought out the impact by sharing what was to what is.Abhilasha.KExcellent

  5. Impressive Abhi… You must bring a lot of comfort to a lot of folks

    Here is to being a shoulder to lean on…

  6. Love it to the last word abhilasha …very well written and truly said..god bless u n way to go my dear

  7. Beautifully written article! We go through tough phases in life and this approach could make all the difference on quickly we heal. Keep up the good work! Nav Sidhu x

    1. Thank you for your feedback. Yes hoosing the approach is up to us, and a positive one certainly speeds up the healing process.

  8. Very aptly put Abhi. And having someone to direct the thoughts is so helpful. Such times can be very distressing and emotionally challenging.
    You are doing a great job !

  9. Brilliantly executed Abhilasha. Indeed we need to break it all down and literally spoon feed our clients as babies. Patience is the name of the game. Keep it up.

  10. Great article Abhilasha…
    Absolutely true that the body and soul both need to heal as there is scientifically proven mind and body connection.
    Positive self talk is very important in this regard as our body listens and responds and the results are clearly visible…
    Keep writing and helping more people heal …👍

  11. Fantastic article! Positive self talk as a tool can be very powerful and beneficial to our mental health if utilized the right way. Hope your client is in a better space now!

  12. Proud of you Abhilasha….excellent thoughts and articulation on positive living….need of the hour….stay blessed

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