Self-talk is the running dialogue inside our heads. It’s how we talk to ourselves.  Psychologists describe self-talk as a blend of the conscious and the subconscious. You may notice your self-talk when you are trying to remember something, completing a task, making a plan or decision, navigating a social interaction, reflecting on an outcome, or in many other situations. The reality is, self-talk is happening quite often, even if we don’t actively notice it.

Self-talk can be overwhelmingly negative.  Negative self-talk is when we say things like “I’m not good enough,” or “This always happens to me.” According to Positive Psychology, negative self-talk typically falls into four categories:

  1. Personalizing – Meaning you blame yourself when things go wrong.

  2. Polarizing – Meaning you see things only as good or bad, no gray areas or room for middle ground.

  3. Magnifying – Meaning you only focus on the bad or negative in every scenario and dismiss anything good or positive.

  4. Catastrophizing – Meaning you always expect the worst.

    It’s no surprise that when we engage in negative self-talk, we feel worse than if we talked to ourselves in a more compassionate way. In fact, research shows that negative self-talk is tied to greater feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, negative self-talk and the resulting emotions are actually linked to weaker muscles, hormonal changes, and other physical symptoms like gastrointestinal problems.

    Conversely, positive self-talk actually builds resiliency and decreases negative emotions and physical outcomes. Positive self-talk has also been linked to improved performance. Positive self-talk is motivational and involves showing yourself compassion and being open to solutions.

    Rather than telling yourself you’ve messed up, positive self-talk can enable you to tell yourself “I can learn from my mistakes.” Being mindful of self-talk, and then actively trying to positively re-frame your inner dialogue can help you overcome adversity, lower stress, and has physical benefits. Why not start to make this shift now?