What Do You Say When You Talk to Yourself?


You have just completed a major work project before the deadline. Having worked diligently and spending your own time, you’re proud of the results and can’t wait to impress your boss. You show him the project and he immediately begins to criticize it and you. The criticism is completely unwarranted. What do you say to yourself? “I’ve failed again” or “He must be having a bad day, I know I did an excellent job”?

You’ve thought of an innovative idea for a business that you really believe in. Excitedly, you tell your spouse who finds only faults with your idea. He tells you it’ll never work. Seeking another opinion, you confide in one of your closest friends. She has nothing positive to say either. What do you say to yourself? “Why can’t I ever come up with good ideas” or “I know my concept is good, I’m going to go with it”?

You’re a volunteer at a civic organization. You make a suggestion for a fundraiser and the president of the organization tells you it’s a bad idea that won’t work. What do you say to yourself? “It’s no problem if they don’t like my ideas, I’ll still help anyway I can” or “If they don’t like my suggestion, they can do it themselves”?

You help your neighbor move some furniture. Several months later, you ask them for help carrying some heavy items to the dumpster. He tells you he’s too busy and doesn’t have time. What do you say to yourself? “Fine, last time I help him or anyone else” or “No big deal, I’ll ask one of my other friends to help”?

There’s a job opening where you work. The position is something that you always wanted to do. It’s a great opportunity and would be a promotion. You’re not sure if you have enough experience. What do you say to yourself? “I’ll apply, I’ve got nothing to loose” or “Why bother applying, I’ve got no chance”?

You can probably relate to one or more of these illustrations or have experiences that are similar in nature. Comments of all sorts are volunteered by everyone; friends, family, coworkers, bosses, acquaintances, and even strangers.

People are constantly giving you their unsolicited opinions. There’s nothing you can do, it’s human nature. What’s important is what you say to yourself, not what others say to you.

Without discrimination, your brain believes whatever you tell it and immediately goes to work figuring a way to make the statements happen. Your mind processes your self-talk 24 hours a day. Don’t say to yourself phrases you don’t want to come true.

Tell yourself things that help rather than hurt you. You want to be saying things such as I can do this, I am capable, I’m a good person, I can learn what I need to know, I can make it work, and good things will be happening.

Whatever it is that you say to yourself, you are right. Occasionally, I have a student tell me that he or she can’t do something. I tell them if that’s the way they feel, they are right. But if someone says, “I can do it,” they are also right. Remarking “I can’t do this” is different than saying “I need help” or “I don’t understand.” Asserting, “I can’t” is a final conclusion rather than making an effort to seek a solution.

Be aware of and monitor what you say to yourself. Don’t tell yourself anything that’s not going to help and assist you in achieving a positive outcome. Always engage in positive self-talk.

© 2004 Bryan Golden