Tips for Talking To Yourself

When you talk to yourself, what do you say?  No, I don’t mean the kind of talking to yourself you do for ordinary things like “I have to remember to buy eggs at the grocery store,” or, “I wonder when Jimmy’s soccer practice is going to end?”.  Instead, I mean what do you say to yourself when you mess up, hurt someone else’s feelings, or are hurt yourself?  Do you sound like this:
  • “I can’t ever do anything right.”
  • “I really am the worst.”
  • “Why would anyone be my friend?”
  • “I don’t deserve good things, anyway.”
Or do you sound more like this:
  • “That wasn’t my finest moment, but we can’t be perfect all the time!”
  • “I don’t like that I did that; how can I make it up to her?”
  • “I don’t think that action aligned with my values.”
  • “I’m sad I missed that opportunity, but surely another will come along.”
If the first set of sayings sounds more familiar, don’t feel bad - a study from the National Science Foundation estimates about 80% of our 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day are negative.  That’s anywhere between 9,600 and 48,000 negative thoughts running through our mind on a daily basis.  Can you imagine the impact that must have on our stress levels, anxiety, and self-esteem? If your first instinct when something goes wrong is to berate yourself, check out these three tips on how to make yourself your best friend. Engage in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is one of the most common approaches used in psychotherapy.  CBT consists of experiencing a negative thought and challenging that thought before it leads to a negative emotion.  For example, if someone cuts us off on the road, we’re likely to think “that jerk - I ought to show him how I feel!” and then experience rage.  CBT helps us to experience the negative event (being cut off) and challenging irrational thoughts (“that jerk!”).   In this example, CBT may help us to instead think “he must have overestimated how much space there was in front of me; we all make a driving mistake at some point, and nobody crashed”.  With this thought, we skip experiencing rage and instead show empathy and understanding.  Now, apply this same process to self-talk - challenge negative talk and replace your thoughts with something more empathetic and understanding. Treat Yourself Like a Friend This approach is rather simple, but easier said than done.  When your friend is having a hard time, would you ever seriously say, “well, you’re a pretty terrible person, so you should’ve just anticipated this”?  If you would, that’s a topic for another blog (like one titled “being kind to others”).  Chances are, you’re far more likely to say something like “I’m sorry that happened, but everything will turn out okay!”.  When you’re tempted to say something negative to yourself, pretend you’re talking to a friend instead.  You’d be amazed how willing we are to show kindness to others before we show kindness to ourselves. Research Positive Psychology If you haven’t heard about positive psychology, it’s time to check it out!  Positive psychology is a field in the mental health industry that investigates not only feeling okay, but feeling well.  Learning to be strengths-based, how to be successful, and how to be resilient in the face of struggles.  Positive psychology also covers positive self-talk and the benefits of being kind to yourself - it’s no surprise that being nice to yourself improves self-esteem, stress levels, anxiety, and overall happiness.  If you haven’t checked out positive psychology, we’d recommend it! Positive self-talk is a relatively simple step in loving yourself more.  If you’re struggling with loving yourself, being kind to yourself or others, and challenging negative thoughts, reach out to us today at  We’d love to help you grow your relationship with yourself and others.  Happy healing!