How Do You Talk To Yourself?

by Catherine Pratt

choose how to talk to yourself

“You’re the slowest learner in the class”
“Why aren’t you getting this? Everyone else is.”

If your best friend told you about something new they were learning, would you say any of the above to them? Of course not. You’d be far more likely to offer encouragement and say something like:

  • That’s awesome that you’re learning that.
  • Wow, you’re picking that up really quick.
  • You’ll be a pro in no time.

So, why don’t you say similar things to yourself when you're learning something new? I bet it’s far more likely that the first sentences are closer to what you’d actually tell yourself.

Listen to what messages you're telling yourself. Think about what you instantly tell yourself when you make a mistake? These thoughts become automatic and unconscious statements that after hearing yourself say them over and over, you now believe them. Even if you say them to be funny, "What a goofball I am". Your subconscious isn't going to know the difference as to when you're joking and when you're being serious. The result will be the same and your confidence will continue to decrease until you start to believe new thoughts about yourself.

Just by paying attention to how you talk to yourself, you can make huge changes in your life. Choose how you're going to speak to yourself and make those comments supportive. So, instead of saying something like:

  • Guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks
  • I’m not good with numbers
  • I sure have a long way to go before I’m any good at this

Talk to yourself like this:

  • I'm just getting better and better every day
  • This is great what I'm learning
  • I'm so happy that I'm getting the chance to learn this

Be proud of yourself for learning something new. Be your own best friend.

You have nothing to gain by beating yourself up but everything to gain for raising your self esteem levels.

Let's take a look at some other situations where you may not realize you're causing yourself to lose confidence.

Comparing Yourself To Others

When you start learning something new, it's common to want to compare yourself to everyone else so you can judge how you're doing.

I'll give you an example. I’ve decided to start running again. It's one of those things that it's been a long time since I've done it so I have to start from basically the very beginning again. The problem comes when I start comparing myself to others. I think I “should” be able to run further or faster. Why? I’m in the shape I’m in and I’m slowly but surely improving every time I lace up my runners and get out there. I need to go at my own pace not someone else’s. As soon as I start to compare myself with others, I end up feeling stressed and disappointed in myself. The smarter thing to do would be to compare myself with how far I've come. When I first started, one minute seemed like a very, very long time. Now, I can run much further than that. It's almost hard to believe that I struggled with one minute. That's what's important. Not how much further or faster someone else can do it.

If you start something new, you're not going to be an expert at it from day one. You want to be but it’s not reasonable to expect that. You wouldn’t expect someone else to be perfect the first day so why do you demand it from yourself? Listen to how you talk to yourself, are you comparing yourself to others?

How About When You’re Trying To Break A Habit?

Do you talk to yourself like this:

  • I'm giving up chocolate.
  • I'm quitting smoking.
  • I'm cutting back on the number of times I go to the mall.

It will be easier if you don't think of it as "cutting back" or "giving up" these items but rather that you're "choosing" a new habit or lifestyle. You're moving towards a new way of life. You have a new you in your mind and those old habits don't work anymore so you're replacing them with new habits that suit the new you more. You're not breaking old habits, you're creating new habits.

Otherwise, your brain will feel that you're being deprived or that you're sacrificing something when you're not really. You're choosing a new habit to replace your old ones. It's just a slight shift in your perception but it will make it easier to resist temptation whenever it appears.

The other thing to remember is that if you decide to have that chocolate chip cookie, you're not a "failure" or "hopeless". You have a goal in mind and you'll be going in that direction again. You can start again tomorrow. You really only fail if you give up on yourself.

Fear of Doing Something

Whenever you’re feeling scared of doing something, it's tempting to talk to yourself about all the things that could go wrong and why it might be a mistake. You might also feel that you're about to make the worst mistake of your life or you may feel like your falling or drowning. Instead, imagine yourself diving into the end result you want. You're taking positive action. You're not simply allowing life to be done to you. Now, see yourself landing in a nice soft landing of flowers with money raining down or whatever you’re after. Maybe surrounded by all the new friends you'll make in your new job. You’re diving towards your dreams. This way, you’re taking control of the fear.

Here’s another tip to try. Whenever you have to do something that scares you, think of it as “easy to do” and erase any words like “can’t”, “too hard”, “difficult” from your mind. Think of them as no longer being English. They just don’t exist for you anymore. By considering it easy, it will become easy for you.


Do you tell yourself you “have” to go to work? All you need to do is change that one word to "get". You get to go to work. Or you "get" to go to that party you were invited to. It's not a chore, it's something that you're lucky enough to get to do. You can even use this on your To Do Lists as not what you have to get done today, it's what you get to do. By changing the one word, you will shift your mindset to feel a little bit better about that thing or event or situation. You'll no longer be focusing on what you don't want, you'll be focusing on what you do want.

Here's another way of looking your job, “What if instead of looking at work as 'work' we look at it as 'fun' or 'opportunity' or 'a blessed path toward getting what you want?'" – Mark Joyner

It really is all in what you tell yourself.

Listen To How You Talk To Yourself

At first it may take practice to become aware of how you talk to yourself but very quickly it will become a good habit. This is one of those tips that is very simple but will make a huge improvement in your self esteem and confidence levels.

Remember, be your own best friend. Whatever encouraging words you'd say to your best friend, say those words to yourself. You deserve it.

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