The Times Australia

The Times

How to reshape your inner voice according to a doctor

  • Written by Dr Christopher Robinson, Medibank Chief Medical Officer

In 2020, a reported 8.5 million Australians had experienced a mental illness at some time in their life1, and now new research2 by Medibank and parkrun has revealed one-in-five (20%) people surveyed constantly, or frequently engage in negative self-talk.

While we can sometimes tend to think negatively, it is important for us to use our inner voice to help promote a positive mindset and encourage greater wellbeing. Our inner voice can be an important tool that to can help change our thought process, and optimise our self-esteem.

Here are my top tips for helping Aussies reshape their inner thinking:

  1. Stop and reflect:

Next time you have a negative thought, take a moment to pause. Reflect on your thought process, and ask yourself: ‘Why am I thinking this way?’. Then, reshape the tone of your thought. For example, if you are out on a run, and think to yourself, ‘This is tough’, recognise the thought, then flip it to something more motivational, such as, ‘I’m capable’. Positive self-talk promotes resilience and can help to increase motivation.

  1. Change ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’:

It sounds simple, but encouraging yourself to actively think in ‘I can’ statements, rather than ‘I can’t’, can help increase your self-esteem. Often we are more capable than we can give ourselves credit for.

  1. Take a breath:

In moments of stress and anxiety, it can be difficult to break a negative thought cycle. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, take a deep breath, and count to ten. Sometimes taking a moment to pause is all it takes to shift your mindset. Breathing practice like box breathing is also a great technique that can help balance your emotions and increase positivity3.

  1. Treat yourself how you would your best friend:

You would never talk badly about your best friend, so why would you talk badly about yourself? Negative self-talk can become a habit, but for better wellbeing, it’s important to try to interrupt this pattern. While it won’t happen overnight, actively working to foster positive self-talk is a great step to improving your mindset.

Our inner voice can be an important psychological tool; I encourage you to nurture it, treat it with care, and above all be kind to yourself.

Dr Christopher Robinson is the Medibank Chief Medical Officer.

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, ’National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing’, 2020-2022.

2 Conducted by Pureprofile between 15 and 18 January 2024 and commissioned by Medibank and parkrun. Sample of 1,006 Australians, aged 18 years and up. Full research available on request.

3 Balban, MY, Neri, E, Kogon, MM, Weed, L, Nouriani, B, Jo, B, Holl, G, Zeitzer, JM, Spiegel, D, Huberman, AD, 2023, ‘Brief structured respiration practices enhance mood and reduce physiological arousal’, Cell Reports Medicine, National Library of Medicine, 2023.

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