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Why your self-talk determines who you are

Apr 29, 2024

Words don't come easy...

Do you ever stop to notice the way you talk to yourself? Do you step outside of yourself as it were and consciously take note of whether you are trash talking you? And do you ever give much thought as to how you describe, or speak about yourself to others?

Your self-talk has a profound effect on your self-image. 

Have you ever considered that your life is the evidence of the views and beliefs you hold about yourself? Your self-image will always keep you where it thinks you should be i.e. according to what you believe you are capable of, and are worthy of achieving in life. 

Here’s a question: can you think of one person, one person only, whose advice you listen to at all times? The answer is– YOU! There is a silent listener in every conversation and it's your subconscious. We spend 70% of our life talking to ourselves, which is in effect, programming our subconscious mind with the beliefs we hold about ourselves.

You engage in “self-talk” whether you acknowledge it or not: we all “do” affirmations. Our self-talk is a form of affirmation– it is an informal affirmation because we repeat self-talk over and over again to ourselves. We hear everything we say and it creates the self-talk cycle.

These informal affirmations are either helpful or destructive in terms of defining your self-image and shaping your actions. We have all, by degrees, been conditioned, or programmed, by the words and concepts that have entered our heads over the years. Repetition of judgmental words and concepts in turn shape beliefs.

Examples of these are found in our everyday conversation. Most often we are unaware that we are making an affirmation: You might say: “I can’t save money”, then you’re absolutely right. “I’m always late”, If you say so. “I always forget where my keys are." Guess what, I bet that's true. “I never seem to be able to solve problems”. You're right then.

Have you heard people say, ‘Every time I go on a diet I put it back on.’ Really??? Who is the first person to hear these words? You! Who do you believe? You! You create your self-talk cycle.

Have you ever said, ‘I can remember faces but can't remember names?’ Someone gives you their name, your subconscious thinks: “There’s one of those things I forget” and subconsciously, you’ve thrown it away, ready for confirmation bias to prove you right.

If you were to complete the statement “I’m the kind of person who…” several times, would the answers be predominantly negative or positive about yourself? By and large, most people find it easier to answer negatively about themselves. When it ends with words such as ‘who always spends all their money’, ‘is always late’, ‘misplaces my keys’, ‘forgets names’ or ‘panics and crumbles under pressure’, you are keeping yourself small, you are limiting the choices you make, your opportunities and experiences, and that negative habitual language will continue to programme your brain with the ‘truth’ you believe about yourself. I encourage you instead, to describe yourself as someone who ‘feels empowered to make decisions’, ‘is great at communicating with others’, and ‘is calm, confident and in control.’ 

You are your own chief advisor because you hear everything you say. Your self-talk over time, changes your self-image, and your self-image drives thoughts which will then drive your feelings and behaviour.

By amending your everyday language and using positive self-talk to describe your potential abilities, you are sending positive ‘instructions’ to your subconscious mind; thus you are creating a positive self-fulfilling prophecy which means you will feel differently about yourself and accordingly, behave differently to build habits which serve you well. You are then more likely to find yourself with a brand-new set of circumstances. 


New self-talk would be: “I watch the pennies and pounds.” “I’m getting much better at time-keeping.”, “I always remember where my keys are.”, “I always remember names” and “I’m solution-orientated and always find a way.”

Affirmations are key to changing yourself- to changing the negative to believe in a positive outcome.

Mind your language!

The Self-Talk Cycle shows why optimism and a positive attitude have such a powerful effect on the quality of your life.

By using positive self-talk to describe your potential abilities (e.g. “I will remember other people’s names”), you can modify your self-image and, therefore, behaviour. You begin to behave in accordance with the new opinion you have of your ability and find yourself remembering names with just a little more ease than before, giving you proof that your efforts have paid off. Your self-talk has been substantiated and you enter the second loop of the Self-Talk Cycle with increased belief- “I really can remember names!” The effect is cumulative and can be used to improve almost every area of your life.

The same ‘rules’ apply to questions and metaphors. We tend to get literal answers, so we need to shape questions carefully. 

How you re-word your previously negative comments is important too. Remember that a negative dominant thought may be hidden in apparently positive thoughts, for example, “I won’t forget”, “I don’t want to fail” and “I don’t want to be broke at the end of every month”.  All of these examples risk creating a dominant thought focusing on what you don’t want. Always use words that paint a picture of what you do want: “I will remember”, “I aim to succeed”, “I’m going to save £30 a month.” The intention is much more positive and makes a huge difference.

Similarly, our thinking and beliefs are directional and therefore, being aware that the same ‘rules’ apply to questions and metaphors, means we need to be very conscious of how we word our beliefs about our self and well, life really, which come up in everyday language. It's important to shape questions carefully. Instead of saying: “Why do I always run out of time for this?” instead say: “How can I create more time for this?” Rather than: “Why do I get nervous before I meet a client?” could instead be worded: “How can I boost my confidence here?”

It's interesting to think about the metaphors we use that shape and reflect our beliefs. For example: “Life is one long struggle” - “It’s a rat race” - “Life’s a bitch” or maybe we could change them to: “Life’s a beach”, “The university of life” and “Life's rich tapestry.”

There are many other ways of revealing underlying beliefs in popular language: “You’re nothing without money” - “Life begins at forty” - “The best days of your life are your school days”.

All of these things we say regularly without giving a thought that they are programming our subconscious and the beliefs we hold.

Repetition is the mother of all learning so, if when you repeatedly tell yourself every day you’re struggling with your business, or can’t ever get to sleep at night, or are no good at avoiding the treats and snacks, guess what? You’re building yourself a big fat self-fulfilling prophecy because you are conditioning your subconscious to create that reality.

What you say is what you get

WYSIWYG- What You Say Is What You Get. Your subconscious mind acts on your beliefs at face value. It does not know whether they support or hinder your ability to succeed. The Self-Talk Cycle is therefore equally powerful in creating unwanted negative results in response to negative self-talk. There is no Health & Safety Executive in your subconscious to say: “No! Don’t think about yourself that way!” or “Please don’t say that about yourself.” That has to come from conscious thought which halts the negative self-talk.

It's about dragging the unhelpful beliefs up to conscious gaze and effectively rebooting your thinking with positive assumptive affirmations to override these potentially harmful thoughts; your thinking and beliefs are directional and therefore affirmations are a way of steering them positively.

The benefits of improving your self-talk to improve your self-image are obvious when you consider that the world accepts you at your own evaluation of yourself. A positive self-image creates strong feelings of self-worth, meaning how you feel about yourself will affect the dynamic of how others will in turn treat you. Also, your feelings of self-worth will directly influence the level of success and happiness you believe you deserve.

So, what do you say to yourself and about yourself?  How are you describing yourself to others? What are YOU repeating on a daily basis? Unwittingly, you are programming your brain to believe it, therefore you are accepting this self-made ‘truth’ which is great if it's positive thoughts, but not so great if they are negative.

The nature of your self-talk is crucial- if you are more consciously aware of it and amend those words which are hindering you, you will become more resourceful and steer your thoughts and beliefs in a positive direction– towards the result you want.

Is your self-talk holding you back? Or is it supportive and propelling you forward, encouraging you to take on exciting opportunities and to enrich your life with new challenges?

Turn the phrases around which are not serving you well and override the negative thoughts with more positive ones.

If you want different for yourself– if you want to be different, to do different and to have different, it’s important to challenge the status quo of your self-beliefs and work out “how did I get here?" if you truly want to change things. 

Your life is the evidence of the views and beliefs you hold about yourself; if you want to create a positive change, it starts with the nature of your thoughts- your self-talk. Remember: your life will never be better than your self-image allows it to be.

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Is your self-talk full of negative language? Are you constantly putting yourself down to yourself, and to others? If you feel need to work on creating a positive self-image, the Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the future you want. Find out more here.

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