What’s the Difference? Positive, Realistic, Negative Self-Talk

What’s the story about negative self-talk versus negative other-talk? How is positive thinking different from realistic thinking? What’s wrong  with positive thinking? What exactly is realistic thinking?

I wrote an article published in the January 2013 issue of The Toastmaster magazine about debunking positive thinking. In follow up e-mail and phone conversations, I was reminded that everyone doesn’t agree on the definitions of negative, positive, realistic thinking. Agreed upon, commonly used dictionary, psychology, academic, or research definitions don’t exist, particularly for positive thinking.

Since the beginnings of this blog arose from my goal to motivate women to eliminate negative self-talk, the answers to the questions above are important. Positive self-talk and realistic self-talk are both part of the solution of the NST problem, although neither is the cure.

Here’s an example: Joe just finished a speech that didn’t go too well. His pace was uneven, with some rambling. The speech wasn’t organized tightly. The audience was quietly unenthusiastic.

He could think negatively about himself.  “I really blew that. I’m an idiot. What was I thinking?”

He could think negatively about the audience. “What a blobby group that was.”

Or positively about himself.                       “Way to go Joe. You hit a homerun.”

Or realistically about himself.                    “I need to spend more time preparing my speech.”

Most people would agree with the negative self-talk and negative other-talk (the audience.) But some people would say that the positive self-talk was unrealistic talk, a lie to himself, or OVER positive talk. Others would see the realistic quote as positive and self-encouraging.

In the next couple of posts, I’ll focus more on the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of thinking and refine the definitions. Plus, I think I’ve found a man, Bo Bennet, who’s willing and able to write a guest post about men and negative and positive self-talk. Here’s a link to a recent article he wrote about positive thinking.



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