The Power of Self-Talk



Each and every one of us has the freedom to say things to ourselves, things that no one else can hear.

“Relentless, repetitive self-talk is what changes our self-image” -- Denis Waitley

The question is: How well do we use this freedom?


For most of us, the answer is: "Not very well."


When was the last time you thought to yourself, “I can’t do

this”, “I’m so stupid for doing/thinking that”, “This crummy outcome is what I deserve”, or “I’m not good enough for _____”? If these things sound familiar, you are not alone. All of us can be hard on ourselves and say things that we would never say to a friend or family.


While this inner self-talk may seem harmless, it can come with some pretty detrimental effects; poor self-esteem, cracked motivation, low self-compassion, anxiety, and depression are not uncommon outcomes. Truth be told, we are often quick to scold ourselves for our failures and slow to appreciate ourselves for our successes. So let me ask the question again: How well do we use our freedom of self-talk? Or rather, how well could we?


With a little bit of practice, the potential to become a positive self-talk guru is within all of us. This doesn’t mean we have to move across the world, and meditate for months on deep existential questions, our value, and our purpose on this earth (although feel free if you like!). For the rest of us, becoming a positive self-talk guru doesn’t really mean that much has to change… just our perspective. Positive self-talk inspires us, empowers us to pursue what we really want, and helps us to build a stronger connection with not only ourselves, but with others.


Want some tips on how to start? Here they are:


1.) Start with gaining self-awareness. Notice what you are thinking right now and how you are feeling. Take out some time every day or every week, to introspect what is going on in your mind. Ask yourself the following questions:



What are the three most important thoughts I have right now?

Are these thoughts making me feel good? Why?

Are they making me feel bad about myself? Why?

Are these thoughts contributing to my immediate goals, as well

as my long-term future/goals?

The answers to these questions will help to gain deeper insight into the quality and direction (optimistic or pessimistic) of your self-talk and can help you to realize what needs to be changed, if anything. Don’t be surprised, if you first begin this exercise and are shocked at the amount of negative self-talk you participate in. For many of us, this is NORMAL, but the good news is that it can be changed if we want to it. Engaging in positive self-talk is a skill, and like any skill, it must be practiced.



2.) Once you understand what needs to change, migrate to the next step where you consciously attempt to replace your negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Continue to be mindful and monitor yourself frequently. Once you get into the habit, positive self-talk will begin to come more naturally. Here are some examples of how we engage in negative self-talk and how we can replace it with more positive self-talk.




3.) One common misconception about developing and using positive self-talk is that it turns you into someone who will start to ignore problems, or refuse to accept failure. Rather than taking your self-talk to this extreme, healthy and positive self-talk is more about accepting what is (which means, sometimes accepting your failures), and then focusing on what good can be extracted from it.




Challenging and changing the way you talk to yourself is valuable work. In addition to building self-esteem and self-confidence, positive self-talk will make you feel more attuned to your goals in both your professional and personal life. So go ahead and tell yourself how awesome you are!


I just did and I feel better already.

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© 2019 Trish Stephens, Psychotherapist - Ottawa, Canada