woman talking to herself. Self-talk concept
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
November 28, 2023 ·  4 min read

Why Do We Talk To Ourselves?

Self-talk is an internal dialogue within our minds, combining conscious thoughts, unconscious beliefs, and biases. Many of us are familiar with this inner voice that provides a running monologue on our lives throughout the day. It serves as a way for our brains to interpret and process daily experiences. Many people wonder why they do this and most importantly, if it is “normal.” Experts say that it is not only normal, it is healthy – if done the right way. This is everything you want to know about self-talk.

Self-Talk: Normal and Healthy

Self-talk is a normal and common phenomenon that affects individuals in various ways. According to research, some people credit their success to having a strong inner voice. This inner voice, even if critical, can push individuals to achieve by raising awareness of internal and external obstacles to their goals. (1) While most of us tend to talk to ourselves quietly or internally, psychologist Dr. Jessica Nicolosi says that voicing our thoughts out loud can be helpful and productive.

“If we speak out loud, it forces us to slow down our thoughts and process them differently because we engage the language centers of our brain,” she explained. “By talking to ourselves we become more deliberate, and this creates a slower process to think, feel and act, instead of being bombarded by our thoughts.” (2)

However, it is essential to recognize that self-talk can take a toll on one’s confidence and self-esteem over time, especially if it predominantly consists of negative thoughts. Therefore, understanding the distinction between negative and positive self-talk becomes crucial.

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Negative vs. Positive Self-Talk

Negative self-talk involves thoughts and beliefs that are self-defeating and critical. It often exaggerates our flaws and shortcomings, leading to self-doubt, decreased motivation, and increased stress levels. Negative self-talk can manifest as sweeping assertions such as “I can’t do anything right” or “I’m a complete failure.” On the other hand, positive self-talk involves thoughts and beliefs that are constructive, compassionate, and supportive. It motivates and empowers us, encouraging growth, resilience, and healthy decision-making. Positive self-talk reinforces confidence and fosters a healthier mindset. Dr. Julia Harper explains this further.

“If we’re talking to ourselves negatively, research suggests that we’ll more likely guide ourselves to a negative outcome,” says Dr. Harper. “However, when self-talk is neutral — as in a statement like ‘What do I need to do?’ — or positive, such as ‘I can get this done,’ then the outcome is much more effective.”

Transforming Negative to Positive Self-Talk

The good news is that negative self-talk can be transformed into positive self-talk, allowing us to improve our lives and well-being. Here are some practical strategies to implement this transformation:

  1. Awareness: Start by becoming conscious of your self-talk. Pay attention to the dialogue happening in your mind and identify any negative patterns or recurring thoughts.
  2. Challenge and Reframe: Once you’ve recognized negative self-talk, challenge its validity. Ask yourself if these thoughts are based on facts or simply self-imposed limitations. Reframe negative statements into more realistic and positive affirmations.
  3. Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Replace self-criticism with self-compassion, understanding that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s a part of our learning and growth process.
  4. Replace with Affirmations: Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. These are powerful statements that reaffirm your strengths and abilities. Repeat them regularly to shift your mindset and bolster self-confidence.
  5. Surround Yourself with Positivity: Surround yourself with positive people, environments, and influences. Engage in activities that uplift and inspire you, helping to counteract negative self-talk and promote a healthier outlook.
  6. Seek Professional Help: In some cases, negative self-talk may be more deeply ingrained and require professional assistance. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown to be effective in helping individuals challenge and reframe negative thoughts.

Keep Talking To Yourself, Just Make It Positive

Self-talk plays a significant role in our daily lives, influencing our emotions, behaviors, and overall well-being. While negative self-talk can be detrimental, it is important to remember that positive self-talk can create a foundation for personal growth, resilience, and happiness. By becoming aware of our self-talk, challenging negative thoughts, and replacing them with positive affirmations, we can transform our inner dialogue and improve our lives. Embracing positive self-talk empowers us to navigate challenges, enhance self-esteem, and cultivate a healthier mindset. So, let’s embark on this journey of self-transformation and reap the rewards of a positive and empowering inner voice.

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  1. Self-Talk.” Psychology Today
  2. Go ahead, talk to yourself. It’s normal —and good for you..” NBC News. Wendy Rose Gould. October 9, 2023.