Ease Your Worried Mind Using Interrogative Self-Talk
Do you spend too much time worrying about things? Practicing positive affirmations can help – but practicing interrogative self-talk may be more effective.
Did you know that the average adult spends 1 hour and 50 minutes per day worrying about something? Constant, excessive worrying not only wastes time and energy, but can also lead to anxiety, which ultimately leads to dire mental and physical health consequences. Excessive worrying can hurt your heart, your brain, your memory, and the people who are close to you.
So how can you stop worrying?
The Power of Positive Affirmations
Instead of allowing negative thoughts to marinate, you can create and tell yourself positive affirmations to lift your spirits. Some of my favorites include:
- I am in control of how I react to others.*
- I will succeed today.*
- Difficult times are part of my journey and allow me to appreciate the good.*
- I make a significant difference in the lives of people around me.*
- I will toss my hair in a bun, drink some coffee, and handle it.*
- Awesome things will happen today if I choose not to be a miserable cow.*
*I have actually practiced these positive affirmations.
Even More Powerful: Interrogative Self-Talk
Positive affirmations are great for improving self-esteem and practicing self-love. However, recent studies have shown that interrogative self-talk – a fancy way of saying ‘asking yourself questions’ – is more effective at improving motivation and performance than using declarative statements like affirmations.
Sometimes positive affirmations don’t work.
Let’s say that there is something you really want to see happen. Maybe you would like to be treated with respect by your coworkers more often. So, you practice your positive affirmations:
‘I am respected and appreciated by my work colleagues. I am always worthy of genuine respect.’
You write your desired outcome on a sticky note and tape it to your bathroom mirror so you can regularly remind yourself of your desired outcome. You repeat the phrases over and over to yourself until you are sick of hearing your own voice.
The results of your efforts don’t lead to your desired outcome.
You start to think: ‘Did I fail because I am not truly worthy of or deserve their respect?’
Depending on your state of mind, this belief may seem true, even if it is not the actual reality. If you deeply and truly believe that you are not worthy of the respect of your coworkers, practicing positive affirmations could set off an inner struggle. Your unconscious (holding on to that negative belief) could refute each positive affirmation, resulting in a huge expenditure of energy, as well as the accumulation of stress and tension in the body and mind.
Interrogative self-talk is a great alternative.
Alternatively, interrogative self-talk engages the problem-solving part of your brain. Instead of boosting your self-esteem with declarative statements like, ‘I am respected and appreciated by my work colleagues. I am always worthy of genuine respect,’ you could question yourself with, ‘How can I gain the respect and appreciation of my colleagues?’ This causes you to think about how you can attain your desired outcome, as opposed to just thinking it will come true. How would you act towards your coworkers? What resources would you need? Interrogative self-talk helps you put a plan into action, thus increasing your chance of success.
The Bottom Line
I am an analytical scientist. I have been trained to solve problems. Suffice to say I enjoy solving problems. So, it makes sense that practicing interrogative self-talk works well for me. But everyone handles stress and worrisome thoughts differently – so it might be worthwhile to practice a combination of declarative mantras to combat self-doubt and catastrophic predictions and interrogative self-talk to activate your brain and propel you into problem-solving mode.