Self-Talk and its Complexities

How You Talk To Yourself is a Reflection of How You Feel About Yourself

Self-Talk: It is one’s internal dialogue. When we talk to ourselves, which can happen out loud (when we mumble something to ourselves), or inside our heads.

We all talk to ourselves. It is something that is very normal, and because it is something that we do automatically, we do not consider its effects on our wellbeing. We just see it as a way of life.

Self-talk is very powerful because it is influenced by one’s subconscious mind, and it reveals one’s thoughts, beliefs, questions and ideas about the world and/or self. It can also be something that either empowers one or leaves one feeling defeated/distressed, depending on the type of self-talk one engages in.

Types of Self-Talk:

  • Negative Self-Talk
  • Positive Self-Talk

Negative Self-Talk:

This refers to any inner dialogue/conversation that you may have with yourself that may be limiting your ability to believe in yourself; including your abilities and to reach your potential.

The content is negative and can be thought of as “you trashing yourself”.

Typical ways negative self-talk manifests:

  1. Filtering: When you magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all the positive ones.
  2. Personalising: Automatically blaming yourself when something bad happens.
  3. Catastrophising: Automatically anticipating the worst.
  4. Polarising: Seeing things as either good or bad.


  • There is no way I can do this
  • No one bothers to communicate with me
  • I am not going to get any better at this
  • It is my fault that relationship did not work
  • I am going to fail at this
  • I can never do anything right

This type of self-talk can leave one feeling distressed, and even stunt one’s success at completing a task at hand. It can lead to decreased motivation and feelings of hopelessness; often linked to depressive disorders. One would find it hard to see opportunities and captalise on them.

Positive Self-Talk:

This refers to any inner dialogue/conversation you have with yourself that makes you feel good about yourself. It enhances your ability to believe in yourself, your abilities and to reach your potential.

It can be thought of as an optimistic voice in your head that encourages you to look at the bright side, pick yourself up when you fall, and recognise when you fail.

Positive self-talk is about showing yourself some self-compassion; an understanding for who you are and what you have been through.


  1. I can do better next time
  2. I choose to learn from this mistake
  3. This is a difficult task; I am proud of myself for trying
  4. I am capable and strong, I can do this
  5. I will give it my all
  6. I cannot control what other people think, say or do, but I can only control me.

Positive self-talk can become such an asset in one’s life because it can enhance self-worth and performance. It can help reduce stress, unlike its counterpart negative self-talk. It can boost confidence and resilience, as well as help one build better relationships.

To engage in positive self-talk can be so difficult, especially when it is something you are not used to. One way to help you engage positively with yourself, is through positive affirmations.


Affirmations are statements that reflect positive attitudes/thoughts about oneself. They often capture one’s desires, phrased as if one already has it.


  1. I am strong
  2. I am enough
  3. I really come through under pressure
  4. I matter
  5. I deserve love, compassion and empathy
  6. I am smart and resourceful
  7. I choose to love myself today

Obviously, this is not an easy task, but doing so with self-compassion, even when you forget to do it, will go a long way.

Self-talk does not always have to be about what we feel our shortfalls are, we can use it to celebrate ourselves too.

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