Improving your self talk, is an easy but effective way to empower yourself and to change the way you feel.

You don’t have to be mad to hear voices, because we all have an inner voice and we all talk to ourselves at times, and how we do this, particularly the language we use, and what we are saying to ourselves when we do this ‘self talk’ reflects how we are feeling inside.

Changing your self talk is one of the keys to real internal change, with positive self talk we feel motivated, we get more done we make progress and feel good about it too, whilst negative self talk can make you focus on the negatives in your life and keep you trapped in a gloomy place for much longer.

This article discusses the top 6 ways you can change your self talk for the better, changing your inner voice is easy, it just takes practice.

 1. Get Rid of Negative Wants.

Negative wants are a pattern of thought that damages your ability to achieve and takes your eye off any real goals that you may have, instead a negative wants focus your mind on what you don’t want hence its name.

e.g. “I don’t want to be overweight”.

In regards to ‘self talk’ a negative want focus the mind on the problem and not the solution, in doing this the only resource the mind can find is how bad it feels having the problem and not alternatively the better option of how to find a solution.
A negative want makes you think and dwell on the negative things around the problem and this is exactly what you don’t want to do if you want to improve what you are saying to yourself.

2. Stop Using Negative ‘What if’s.

A Negative what if is a negative thought pattern that prevents you doing what you need to do because of the fear of an untoward event.
If you are still confused and lets have a few examples; have you ever said to yourself any of the following?

What if I fail?
What if she says no?
What if I miss?

Self talk with a negative what if causes you to always think of a bad, or the worst possible outcome, to the extent that you fail to take opportunity and feel like you have failed before you even try,  if you find yourself focusing on negative what if’s you will dwell on the worst outcome and it’s also likely your motivation will be poor and you find it difficult to take action.

The only solution is to give it a go, and this is summed up in the words of Wayne Gretzky “you miss every shot you don’t take”.

3. Get rid of ‘have to’ and give yourself a choice. 

Saying ‘have to’ is psychologically damaging, it makes you feel dis-empowered, it saps your emotional energy and it takes away your motivation. Getting rid of have to from your self talk can give you more choice, if you catch yourself saying ‘have to’, then change your self talk to ‘I will’, or ‘I choose to because…….’

Just by ‘choosing to do something’ instead of ‘having to do something’ will give you the feeling of choice, it will get rid of feeling trapped and frustrated and you will feel much more motivated.

Also by adding the ‘because’ onto the choose to ….. statement you also change the motivational direction of the statement to give you purpose.

I must admit that if this all seams a bit fuzzy, you may choose to follow this link about ‘have to’ for clarity.

 4. Turn the Can’t into Can Do.

Can’t is a phrase I hear every day when talking to patients, it’s the first phrase that comes to mind when we doubt ourselves and when we lose faith in our abilities, the thing is ‘I can’t’ is not always true, there’s almost always a way and all you have to do is learn how to look at the problem with a new set of eyes.

In this review article on self talk I just want to concentrate on a few of the best ways to question your ‘I can’t’ self talk. When you hear yourself say I can’t simply ask yourself a few of the following questions;

What would happen if I could?
What haven’t I tried yet?
What do I need to do that ?
What am I not doing now?
What’s the next step?

For more information on how to do this feel free to take a look at this article written to help therapists change I can’t into can do. 

5. Self Denigrating self talk.

One of the most damaging types of self talk is when we insult ourselves, or give ourselves a negative self image, the trouble with this is that it’s more difficult to ignore an insult when we say it to ones-self, (such as; I’m fat, I’m Stupid, I’m not very good at this), unfortunately you start to believe these insults and they start to effect your identity.

The way to handle self denigrating self talk is simply to catch yourself doing it and if that’s not enough perhaps say to yourself “what am I that’s more than this” this will hopefully get you to a far more positive self image. If you do get stuck here and have a real problem with you self identity follow this link for a more comprehensive explanation and a linguistic model which can really help you if you practice it enough.

6. Is what you are saying really true.

The language that people use usually represents what is going on inside their head, and sometimes especially when we aren’t seeing the world in the way it really is the language we use can also not be quite right, it can contain deletions, it can be distorted or it can generalise.

These deletions, distortions and generalisation are easy to spot if you have been trained to do so, and in some therapies especially NLP practitioners use something called the ‘meta-model’ to ask specific questions to the client to question what they are saying to help them create a better view of the world.

How to do this specifically is certainly the topic of a much more comprehensive article and will take a fair bit of practice, as a quick alternative just look out for the ‘danger’ words, some of them we have already discussed. Try writing these words down and notice how often they come up in your own language and that of others around you.

Can’t, must, have to, everybody, every, nobody, always, never.

e.g. ‘Nobody loves me’, or ‘it always happens to me’.

Listen to what you are saying to your self and others and when you catch yourself saying the following simply repeat the ‘danger’ word back to yourself and say to yourself ‘is that always true’.

Summary; improving your self talk.

The self talk you use reflects how you see the world, improving your self talk is one of the keys to real internal and lasting change, the key to changing your self talk is first to be aware of what you are saying, and by reading this article and the links within it I hope that has already started to happen.

By advice if you really want to change is to concentrate your efforts for the next 7 days, spending a whole day on one of each of the above examples, noticing the language you use in your own self talk and what others are using in conversation. Then on the seventh day try putting it all together.