I find that women are often their own toughest critics (myself included!). But years of personal experience have taught me the power of positive self-talk. Around our offices, I like to go by this policy: If you wouldn't dream of saying it to your best friend ("Just look at that cellulite!"), don't say it to yourself.
Instead, when I'm faced with a challenge, like training for a triathlon, I've learned to give myself positive reinforcement: "My body is strong and I can accomplish anything I set my mind to." Having an upbeat inner monologue has helped me reach so many of my personal goals (swimming in open water despite a lifelong fear of sharks) and overcome a myriad of obstacles.
Studies back up the benefits of positive self-talk: Research suggests that consistently replacing negative thoughts with optimistic ones may improve your outlook, reduce stress and lift your self-esteem. Here's how to come up with a motivating personal mantra you can rely on again and again:
1. First, envision your ideal life, then come up with an encouraging phrase that makes it sound as if what you desire is already a reality. Instead of "I hope tomorrow is better," try "I believe that tomorrow will be a better day."
2. Repeat your mantra whenever you start to badmouth yourself ("I'm such a loser!"). You'll retrain your brain to focus on the positive, not the negative. Share your successful mantras on our Happiness forum.
3. Can't think of a mantra that doesn't make you feel silly? Try one of these:
"I choose to love and appreciate myself and others." "I am grateful for the good and wonder in my life." "I can make healthy choices and be the architect of my future." "I forgive my flaws and celebrate my strengths."
My personal favorite: "I am grateful for all the good things in my life and should remember this as often as I can."