How Healthy is Your Self-Talk?

Our self-talk can often be brutal. The things you say to yourself can keep you feeling small and deflated.

But in the busy-ness of our day, it’s hard to tune in to all the mean things we tell ourselves. Instead, look out for these warning phrases and words, and use them as an alert that your self-talk is taking a dive:

1. “Should”

Whenever you catch yourself saying you should, take note and question it. “Should” usually indicates you are feeling inadequate, or are caught up in or perfectionism or comparing yourself to others.

Common examples include:

- “I should be able to do this quicker.”

- “I should get more exercise.”

- “I should be able to cope better, everyone else can.”

Instead, ask yourself: Is that true? And do I really want to? Try switching to: “I will” or “I can”. Or even, “I choose not to”.


2. “I don’t have time”

We are all busy. In fact, we are all often overwhelmed by the expectations of society. But is it true you don’t have time? Or is it true that you only have time for what really matters to you?

Ask yourself: Do I want to make time for this thing? Or do I choose to invest my time in something that matters more to me?

3. “I’m not good at that”

Have you ever told yourself, I won’t be good at that”? It’s very common.

You say it like it’s a fact, and it gives you a way out.
When you hear yourself saying this phrase, ask yourself:

- Is it true?

- According to whom? Who says? You? Your old teacher? The part of you that’s scared of failure?

- And even if it is true, so what? Do you have to be brilliant at it to do it? What if you practiced? Or, what if you did it just because you want to?

4. “I’m not smart enough/funny enough/good enough.”

Here’s a secret: none of us feel “good enough”. Many people go through their entire lives building evidence for why they are not good enough. Others go through their lives trying to cover it up, hoping no-one will ever find out.

Yet the truth is that being smart/funny/good is purely subjective. Remember that Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

When you hear yourself saying any combination of “I’m not [adjective] enough”, tune in and question it.

5. “If only”

This is usually spoken from a feeling of unfairness or helplessness.

- “If only I was born richer.”

- “If only I was more confident/more good-looking/more [anything].”

- “If only had I saved more money in my 20s.”

You can’t change the past, but you can reframe it.

When you catch yourself saying “If only”, make an effort to look at what you can do, what you have achieved, and what you do have.