Straight Talk about Self-Talk

By LeaAnn Casper, LMHC

You’ve got an inner voice that has a running dialogue about life that can determine if you feel positive or negative.

Called self-talk, this is the inner voice that has opinions about everything, and those opinions can make a big difference in how you view life. You have an average of about 6,000 thoughts a day, most of which you habitually repeat to yourself.  In many cases, you learned to think these thoughts from experiences with your primary caregivers in childhood, and have been repeating them from that time.  As you can imagine, many of these thoughts no longer serve you.

There is both positive and negative self-talk.  For instance, when you say to yourself, “This is a scary situation but I can handle it,” that is positive self-talk.  Negative self-talk comes when you say to yourself, “I’m a loser and I’ll never get a boyfriend.”

The first step in changing your self-talk is to begin to observe what you say to yourself.  Keep notes for a few days and write down everything you say to yourself.  You will probably start to notice patterns—certain phrases that you say to yourself.

Next, consciously focus on changing the negative phrases to positive ones.  For instance, when you notice yourself saying that you are a loser, change that to “I’m a good person with a lot of positive qualities.”  Or, when you find yourself overwhelmed by a situation, instead of allowing defeating self-talk, coach yourself to say, “Yes, this is a difficult situation, but I have handled situations like this in the past and I can do it again.” It’s not easy, but you will notice you become better with practice.  It’s just like practicing an instrument or a sport—you’ll become better at it as you spend more time doing it.

With a little attention, you can begin to change that negative self-talk, and you will probably find that this will significantly impact your emotions in a positive way.  You’ll be on the road to your emotions providing more joy and happiness!