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The Power of Positive Self-Talk

September 25, 2012

Darlene Vincent joins us this Fall as our Girls on the Run of Atlanta Intern. She’s a student at Georgia Gwinnett College and will be shadowing three Girls on the Run and Girls on Track programs in metro Atlanta. 

One of our elementary school Girls on the Run teams in Gwinnett learned the importance of conquering negative self-talk through the power of positive reinforcement. Repeating negative notions admitted among the girls included not feeling pretty or smart enough. The girls turned harsh and hurtful beliefs into uplifting and truthful words. Thus, “I’m not pretty” transformed into    “I am beautiful,” while “I’m not smart” morphed into “I get A’s in science” or “I’m good at language arts.”

For example, one girl shared that she struggles with a daily task. Whenever her discouraging inner critic rears its ugly head, it tells her that she will have difficulties with or won’t be able to do this task. However, when she listens to her encouraging voice, it tells her she can do it. Of course, when she takes the latter advice, she is not only successful in  completing her undertaking, but in conquering negative self-talk as well.

Later running laps was extra empowering, thanks to the impact of positive self-talk. Girls both received and gave encouraging words such as “You’re awesome” and “Way to go” to their fellow Girls on the Run teammates in passing. Coaches Janelle and Kat promoted positive self-talk as they motivated each girl to proclaim something wonderful about herself. Hence, optimistic exclamations like “I’m cute,” “I’m extraordinary,” and “I’m funny” were heard throughout the day.

However, as a whole, negative self-talk is not just an issue that affects adolescent girls; it is a problem that occurs at any age. Like many of us, one of the coaches admitted that when she listens to her negative thoughts or words she doesn’t feel like doing anything except for curling up on the couch with a bowl of ice cream.

On a similar note, comedienne and actress Amy Poehler addresses the problem of negative self-talk and self-image in one of her “Ask Amy” YouTube clips. Amy’s message within this video is that we should not focus on or lament the “negative” aspects of ourselves, but we should love and be grateful for our positive qualities, such as our health. Happiness will be much easier to obtain if we focus on what we have, rather than obsessing over what we don’t.

Throughout the day the girls discovered that they possess the power to be both their toughest critic and their biggest cheerleader…and that it is up to them to choose which one they want to be!

Photography by Darlene Vincent

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