Making Healthy Self-Talk Work For You

Written by on July 24, 2017 in Emotional Mastery, Self-Awareness

Healthy Self Talk


Today we’re going to explore the surprising benefits of that endless stream of mental chatter known as self-talk, the ongoing narrative that represents the world in your head.

Let’s be honest, outside of occasional reminders to think this / not that in an attempt to stay positive, most of us leave our inner dialogue to run on auto-pilot, comfortably outside of conscious awareness.

But when used constructively, self-talk is a powerful form of insightful communication because it can give you important clues about your emotions and behavior, and has the ability to influence the way you think and feel.

Healthy self-talk is not self-deception or mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see. It is the process that allows you to recognize the truth, in situations and in yourself.

The Nature of Healthy Self-Talk

You may be wondering if I’m just playing “self-help” word games by using the term healthy rather than the more commonly used term of positive self-talk, but there actually is a difference.

Positive self-talk focuses on increasing energy, effort, and positive attitude, but does not include any action related trigger. Also, many of us have a tendency to base our positivity on little more than fantasy, wishful thinking, and unrealistic expectations.

If you are just looking for a quick mood boost or reminder, chances are that this may be enough.

But sometimes you need more. For example, if you are going through a rough patch, pursuing an important goal or suffering from lack of confidence or self-worth issues, simply saying “I am a good person” or “I am relaxed and in control.” to yourself a few times isn’t likely to make much of a difference.

Healthy self-talk allows you to commit to yourself in a concrete way, rather than simply hoping for the best. It is logical, reality-based, compassionate and productive.

It is a way of looking at a situation that allows you to feel good about yourself and your abilities. With this perspective, you are encouraged to take action and look for opportunities for growth rather than sit back and assume all will be well if you just think good thoughts.

Healthy Self Talk

Examples of Healthy Self Talk

  • “So you made a mistake, it’s not the end of the world, what’s next?”
  • “You’re going to be so proud when you cross that finish line!”
  • “What can you do to make this a valuable lesson?”
  • “You may not be there yet, but you’re getting closer every day.”
Instead of saying “I’m damaged, I’m broken, my life is over” say “You’re healing, you’re rediscovering yourself, you’re making a fresh start.”

The Benefits of Healthy Self-Talk

Studies have shown that tuning into your inner dialogue can help to regulate emotions, which reduces stress and anxiety. There is a strong body of research that shows it facilitates learning, increases productivity, motivation, and confidence. And, I can tell you from personal experience, it also boosts creativity.

Impressive … but wait, there’s more!

Make Better Decisions

It can help you make better decisions by reviewing all your options. Take it a step further by debating your choices out loud and you might be surprised at the unexpected directions your thoughts will take you.

Work through Difficult Situations

If you avoid confrontation like the plague, you are not alone. Practicing what you need to say to get your points across clearly and without anger will put you in a much better position when it comes time to communicate about a tough issue and prevent you from falling into the trap of endless mental reruns.

Improve Concentration

Self-talk helps to clear mental clutter and so that you can concentrate. Notice how often you see athletes muttering under their breath before an event; they’re putting themselves into a highly focused state and pumping themselves up.

It works.

Either you control your thoughts or outside forces will control them and outside forces usually consist of fear, worry, and doubt. ~Maddy Malhotra

When you practice healthy, constructive self-talk you take charge of your inner dialogue. Your self-talk becomes your voice, your actions, your choices, your interactions with the world – all the things that make you who you are.


Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here“.


Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Elise Cohen Ho

    I always remind my clients to speak to themselves as they would speak to their best friends. As well, saying it to yourself is not the same as saying it outloud.
    Elise Cohen Ho recently posted…Using The Law of Attraction EffectivelyMy Profile

  2. Marquita,
    Great suggestions on ways to use self talk to feel better and improve your outlook. I often speak to myself about what just happened, why I am reacting the way I am, what could make the situation better, what can I do next. All of that takes away the feeling of blame and upset. As you said, healthy self talk can clear the mind so that we can make healthy decisions and productive choices.

    Warmly, Erica

  3. Edward Thorpe

    Hi Marquita,

    Firstly, I’m gonna miss your thoughtful and interesting thoughts. But, I wish you well with your project.

    Secondly, your suggestion for changing our ‘I’ into ‘You’ has asstounding possibilities. I’d never thought of doing so and I’m excited about practicing it. Thank you,
    Edward Thorpe recently posted…Why Smart People Do Dumb ThingsMy Profile

  4. Love the tip – change “I” to “you”. self-talk , specifically negative, can be so destructive …. turning it around to see a way for solutions is way more productive. Using “you” really helps to take the focus off personal problems. Great food for thought here as usual
    Lesly Federici recently posted…Be Prepared With Adrienne Z. MilliganMy Profile

  5. Good for you for unplugging for a month. How I wish I could do that. But as it is necessary for me to woo sponsors with the stats of my site and social media reach, I’ve got to keep at it ion a regular basis.

    There are so many challenges in my life that I have become quite the expert at positive, and what I believe to be, healthy self-talk. Thx for the encouragement.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…what I learned at the Hershey GardensMy Profile

  6. Joy Healey

    Hi Marquita,
    I really liked the extra dimension of talking to yourself giving a call to action. I tried it and it does feel very different.
    That said, I have to confess that avoiding negative self-talk is still a work-in-progress for me. But I’m getting there.
    Excellent tip on healthy self-talk.
    Joy – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted…Who To Learn Marketing Online FromMy Profile

  7. Hi Marquita. Great post!

    I liked that “self-talk allows you to commit to yourself instead of hoping for the best. ( What most people do I think )
    It is logical, reality based, compassionate and productive,
    “Healthy self-talk helps you take charge of your inner dialogue. Your self-talk becomes your voice, your actions, your choices, your interactions with the world – all the things that make you who you are.”
    Loved that. Happy unplugging for Aug.
    Kathryn Maclean recently posted…6 Social Media Practices For Your Business PagesMy Profile

  8. Applause for disengaging for the month of August. Wonderful idea.

    I like the idea of self-talking to “you.” I’ll try that. I do realize that if I speak negatively to myself, but follow it up right away with something that makes me laugh, the negative thought goes away.
    It seems positive talk only works if I am a specific about it, just like with a goal. “read more,” means nothing, “read 5 blogs today,” is a goal.
    Great post from which to take it easy for a bit.

  9. I’m so glad you found the information worthwhile Tuhin and I wish you all the best on your project! 🙂

  10. Yes, this stuff really does work! I have to admit that as a creative and a writer, I’ve been somewhat obsessive about learning to not merely manage but channel my internal narrative. This is pretty amazing stuff for anyone willing to do the work. Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation, always appreciated! 🙂

  11. Excellent point William and your description perfectly aligns with a theory developed by Nobelist Daniel Kahneman called Fast Brain Slow Brain! He’s written a fascinating book about the topic but like most things these days there is easy to find at least the basic information online for free if anyone reading this is interested. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  12. Well said Moumita, especially your point about the difference between positive and negative self-talk. There is an interesting aside to that because it turns out that – like so many things in life – there is no one-size-fits-all definition of “negative” self-talk. I have some compelling research on this topic as well as the positive side of pessimism and plan to write a post about this in the future. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

  13. Welcome back Monna! Great points, and like you, I still have to work at keeping my mind de-cluttered, which is a big part of the reason I’m taking some time off. You are right, I will be working but I’m also going to be taking time for myself and I can’t wait! 🙂

  14. I’m so glad to hear that Amber! Thanks for taking the time to share. 🙂

  15. Thanks for letting me know that you found value in the post Sonal! I do think it’s worth emphasizing that it’s not one way or the other. Yes, we need to love and believe in ourselves, but it’s also important to build a healthy support system of people who can back you up because no one can do it all alone. Thanks! 🙂

  16. Tuhin

    Loved the post, Marquita!
    I have bookmarked the four examples you have shared here. I am working on a tough project and right now I need to remind my self that I am moving closer everyday.
    Thanks for the piece.
    Tuhin recently posted…Preventive Steps to Control Sibling RivalryMy Profile

  17. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    I like the way you distinguished “healthy” self talk. Whenever negative thoughts run through our minds, we can turn it around with a healthy self talk.

    I had learned this in therapy years ago, Once one practices it, a habit is formed. So now, when a thought like “Oh I’ll never…..” pops into my mind I can immediately turn it around an do a self talk like “I can do anything I choose to do.”

    This stuff works!

    See you in September,

    Donna Merrill recently posted…8 Expert Blogs Reveal How Passion Impacts Your Blogging BusinessMy Profile

  18. William Rusho

    Self talk is a form of concentration, which I think is the key to almost anything successful. I find that I fail, when I lose focus. Example, I do not go out to break my diet, I forget I am on a diet. I act natural in eating the wrong food, without thinking I am not suppose to.
    This self talk, is just a reminder to you, to focus on the items you need to and help remove the negative things you should forget.

  19. I enjoy reading your posts. They trigger the introspection mode in me. Self-talk is something which I am used to since so many years.

    It acts as a support system when no one is trying to understand me, helps me deciding between right and wrong (which matches to your ‘Make Better Decisions’ point). But the trick is to draw a line between positive self-talk and negative self-talk. I am trying to master that gradually.
    Moumita De Sarkar recently posted…Should a neighbour pay back simple favours with money?My Profile

  20. Hi Marquita,
    It’s been a while and I’m happy to be back reading your blog.

    I use “healthy self talk” all of the time but didn’t realize it had a name. I agree with you 100% that letting your mind run wild and chastising yourself over something that cannot be changed is the problem that the majority of people have. I know I have to work at it myself.

    I’m anxious to see what you will be working on in August. Even though you’ll still be working, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the different down time away from the internet and blog to regroup.

    Thank you so much for this thought-provoking post.

  21. I need to practice self-talk at the moment and your article spoke to me – thank you for your great advice Marquita

  22. Sonal Talwar

    Hi Marquita
    Self help talk is very important. Instead of depending on others to help and support us, we should help ourselves and think positive. As you said “So you made a mistake, it’s not the end of the world, what’s next?” – this is something I do at times.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Sonal Talwar recently posted…13 Health Facts You Believed Are Actually MisleadingMy Profile

  23. Thanks Sharon, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  24. Everyone experiences that mental chatter Phoenicia, it’s just that most people ignore it despite the potential impact these non-stop messages have on our thinking and behavior. Like you, I am very aware of my self-talk and take full advantage of it, especially when it comes to my writing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  25. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know you found value in the post Mark! And thank you for your good wishes on my break. I’m excited about being able to focus on my projects, but also about taking some time for myself. This wasn’t something I’d really planned but then recently I realized next month marks one full year since I moved back to the mainland and I haven’t really been anywhere or done anything, so I look forward to some exploring and shopping! 🙂

  26. Emily

    Self-help talk is so so important. We often rely on others to give us support and encouragement but forget that we also need to give ourselves the same positive reinforcements!
    Emily recently posted…Which Keywords Should You Use? (Bonus: 2 Free Tools to Find Them)My Profile

  27. A lot of great information on this post. I agree being positive make such a difference.

  28. Phoenicia

    Marquita – enjoy your break which I am sure is well deserved!

    I am always thinking and speaking to myself. I wonder if others do the same! The words we speak over ourselves has far more impact than the words spoken by others. When one is feeling discouraged, they may struggle to believe and accept the best for themselves.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Are you a ‘night owl’ or an ‘early to bed’?My Profile

  29. Mark

    Thank you for clarifying the subtle differences M!

    personally, I’m for most positive things, which help to further empower me
    in the right direction.

    But it’s definitely good to know, there are even more effective approaches, to a proven process.

    The You vs I approach has definitely opened my, because I simply had no idea such tiny change could make much difference!LOL!

    Enjoy your much deserved time off, and I for one, can’t wait for your return!

    And the best to you, with your behind the scenes project(s!)
    Mark recently posted…Introducing Five Potentially Profitable Free Resources For Aspiring Online Marketers!My Profile

  30. You know what Jeannette, my research actually shows that talking to yourself out loud is even more powerful than internal self-talk, so you’ve got it wired! 🙂

  31. Thanks for letting me know that you found value in the post Chery, always appreciated!

  32. Marquita — I talk to myself all the time — out loud. I don’t use “I” but most often refer to myself in the third person. “Come on, Paladino, get with the program!” When my husband was still here, he would often ask, “are you talking to me?” So often I’d have to respond, “No, just talking to myself!” I thoroughly believe in self-talk whether inside your head or spoken aloud.

  33. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! Wow Healthy Self talk Vs Positive Self talk! I will work on this one my friend! This is exactly what I needed to hear today!

    Thank YOU! Enjoy your time off. See you in a month.
    Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…What Is Your Favorite Blogging Tool?My Profile

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