Self Talk


Lesson #2 - Self Talk

In this lesson we will discuss Self Talk, which is something we all do both consciously and unconsciously every day. Self Talk can be a powerful tool to help you meet your goals or it can be a destructive form of non productive or even harmful thinking.

What is Self Talk?

Many people describe self talk as a little voice inside your head. It sometimes engages us in a conversation when we are feeling less interested in what is actually happening around us. It also can allow us to escape into our minds when we want to avoid what is currently happening or to seek stimulation. So Self Talk can be both conscious and unconscious, it serves to interpret and process our daily experiences. Self Talk can be positive, motivational and help us to solve problems. It can also allow us to construct accurate or inaccurate interpretations of our experiences resulting is both positive or negative messages or feedback.

What types of messages are you giving yourself?

When we experience self talk we should pay attention to the types of messages that are occurring inside our mind. Self critical feedback or messages are often the result of our insecurities or lack of confidence or abilities. Positive messages are self congratulatory and boost our self image or self esteem. Positive messages promote growth and give us feedback in a way that encourage development while negative messages can make us question our beliefs and abilities, reducing our feelings of competency.

Our minds often are drawn to what is not going well resulting in negative messaging. Being self critical can cause feelings of insecurity, reinforcing self doubt. Frequent critical or negative self feedback that is harmful to our perceptions of self efficacy, which are beliefs we hold about our ability to achieve and accomplish our goals.

Our strategy to address negative self talk is to “keep it positive”. Select a few statements that you feel will help you promote messages in you mind. Here are four messages to try in your mind.

“I can change” – this statement can be applied to any number of situations or circumstances. It is short, affirmative and empowering. It promotes self belief and supports our ability to make changes when they are needed or desired.

I can control….. – Many times we feel that we don’t have control over situations or circumstances. In some events, this may be true. But, we also have the ability to demonstrate control over certain events or to exert effort to be in control. This statement supports our need for self control, power and authority. It is important to feel in control and to be able to show self control in the messages that we hear in our mind. These messages are linked to our perceptions of self efficacy.

It’s normal to make mistakes but I will learn from them. – We often become self critical when we feel we have made a mistake. This may be the result of being taught not to make mistakes. Mistakes are actually the foundation of knowledge that teaches us how to be more successful or competent. When mistakes happen, or when be perceive they have happened, we sometimes punish ourselves with words that are critical or negative. Change your thinking about the nature of mistakes….that they serve to inform our knowledge, our thinking, or way of acting. We must make mistakes if we are to learn.

And finally…

I don’t have to do things just to fit in….. – We may be influenced to behave or to conform to the way others are behaving because we believe that will make life easier or better. Sadly, this can cause us to feel conflict when we know the conforming behavior is not the right choice for the situation. We may strong feelings of conflict as the result of choosing a behavior that doesn’t feel right. We may be self critical in our mind of the choice we made and feel unhappy as the result. Use a positive message to help with situations that don’t seem right…or when you must make a decision that conflicts with your self beliefs. Doing so will promote a feeling of autonomy and self worth.

Always keep in mind that if you are giving your brain positive messages, you will be promoting a positive mindset. Positive messages are pleasing to receive and promote a feeling of inner peace. They can also help you avoid the negative messages that are less productive in developing greater self worth and self efficacy.

Now that you have a better understanding of how self talk can impact your thinking, use these four statements as starting points for constructing positive messages that you can repeat to yourself during the day. Copy the statements into your calendar or journal, or write them on a piece of paper and place it where you will see them. Try to use each statement at least once each day in a positive message that you repeat in your mind.