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The way you talk to yourself can really impact your confidence. The effect can be good or bad depending on whether your self-talk is positive or negative. We’ve got a few ways you can improve your self-talk below.

What is self-talk?

Even though you might not know it, you’re already practising self-talk.

Self-talk is basically your inner voice, the voice in your mind that says the things you don’t necessarily say out loud. We often don’t even realise that this running commentary is going on in the background, but our self-talk can have a big influence on how we feel about who we are.

The difference between positive and negative self-talk

Positive self-talk makes you feel good about yourself and the things that are going on in your life. It’s like having an optimistic voice in your head that always looks on the bright side.

Examples: ‘I am doing the best I can’, ‘I can totally make it through this exam’, ‘I don’t feel great right now, but things could be worse’

Negative self-talk makes you feel pretty crappy about yourself and the things that are going on. It can put a downer on anything, even something good.

Examples: ‘I should be doing better’, ‘Everyone thinks I’m an idiot’, ‘Everything’s crap’, ‘Nothing’s ever going to get better.’

Negative self-talk tends to make people pretty miserable and can even impact on their recovery from mental health difficulties. But it’s not possible, or helpful, to be positive all the time, either. So, how can you make your self-talk work for you?

Why should I practise?

The more you work on improving your self-talk, the easier you’ll find it. It’s kind of like practising an instrument or going to sports training: it won’t be easy to start with, but you’ll get better with time.

It might not seem like much, but self-talk is a huge part of our self-esteem and confidence. By working on replacing negative self-talk with more positive self-talk, you’re more likely to feel in control of stuff that’s going on in your life and to achieve your goals.

3 ways to talk yourself up

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What can I do now?

  • Start monitoring your self-talk and challenge any negative thoughts.
  • Head to the ReachOut Forums for some info, advice and help from your peers.
  • Read Sarah's story and find out how she beat her negative thoughts.