The Importance of Positive Self-Talk

personal development
4/19/2020
Ben Atlas

Practicing positive self-talk is more important now than ever. In such an unthinkable time, it can be difficult to stay aware of the world while keeping a positive outlook. Amidst listening to the news, we forget to listen to what we’re saying to ourselves.

The question is, how can we listen to the news and practice our self-talk simultaneously?

Practicing positive self-talk can be difficult, so Guider is here to help you to master the skill...

What is Self-Talk?

Self-talk is the running dialogue inside our heads. Our inner monologue consists of the things we say to ourselves both consciously and subconsciously. Sometimes, we talk through something step by step in our head, and other times we say things that are more hurtful than helpful.

It is the voice that speaks without giving it much attention, and it can actually have a bigger impact on us that we realize. What we say to ourselves subconsciously can directly impact how we feel and respond to a current situation.

What are the Benefits of Positive Self-Talk?

Positive psychology studies how we individually flourish through building a life of meaning, purpose and optimism. Researchers have found that positive self-talk can help immensely with work performance, learning, self-awareness, and managing anxiety.

1. Reduces stress

  • Positive thinkers utilize better coping strategies when faced with challenges

  • Positive self-talk reframes the way we look at stressful situations and how we can approach them → Going from “this is too difficult” to “I can do this!”

2. Boosts confidence

  • Having positive self-talk boosts self confidence because it helps to believe we are capable of achieving goals and believing in ourselves

3. Helps to build better relationships

  • People look up to their coworkers who are optimistic, as it helps people to collaborate and cooperate more effectively

How Do I Distinguish Negative Self-Talk from Positive Self-Talk?

The way psychologists distinguish negative and positive self-talk is by the tone that our inner monologue speaks in. Our brains are hardwired to remember negative experiences over those that are positive. By showing yourself more understanding and self-compassion, our brains can be rewired to think more positively.

For example, say that your supervisor asks you to redo an assignment you handed in. In that moment, what would you say to yourself in your head? Would you say something that is negative and deterring, or positive and reassuring?

  • Negative self-talk would say: “I’m so embarrassed that I didn’t do the assignment correctly. I feel like a total failure.”

  • Positive self-talk would say: “I’ll learn from my mistakes this time, and do a better job next time.”

Do you hear the difference between the two? Think about any times you have said something a bit harsh to yourself that you could have said more positively.

Turning Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk:

Practising effective strategies to turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk has proven to be successful. Here are some to help you:

Don’t be too harsh on yourself when things go wrong

  • Instead, analyze the situation as if you were talking your coworker through something that went wrong for them

  • We tend to be biased toward and harsher on ourselves

Failure is not the end of the world

  • Failure allows us to experience, learn and grow

  • Embrace failure when it happens!

Focus on the positive too, not just the negative

  • There are negatives and positives in every situation, so don’t only focus on negatives!

A Three-Step Guide to Positive Self-Talk:

1. Listen to what your inner monologue is saying:

  • Is it mostly positive or negative?

  • Would your close friends, coworkers or mentor talk to you in this way?

2. Learn what thoughts seem to be recurring.

  • Is there a common theme in your self-talk?

  • Think about what this might say about yourself, and why these thoughts might be coming up.

  • Is this negative self-talk stopping you from achieving your goals?

3. Replace the negative with the positive.

  • Switch gears from negative to positive by changing statements to be kinder.

  • For example, change “I can’t finish before this deadline” to “I’ll do my best job to finish on time, but I can only do the best I can.”

  • Really imagine how you would speak to a friend -- often we speak harshly to ourselves and more kindly toward our friends.

💡 Try this out with your mentor as an exercise!

What is the Connection Between Mentoring and Positive Self-Talk?

Mentoring and positive self-talk are very connected. When we improve our self-talk strategies, we are better able to connect with our mentors. Mentees with positive self-talk are more likely to have positive mentoring relationships because they are willing to work on their desired areas while not falling into a negative mindset.

Positive self-talk allows there to be an open channel of communication between a mentee and their mentor, leading to more success within and outside of the workplace. Try working with your mentor on improving your positive self-talk the next time you meet!

📚 Read now: How To Run A Productive Mentoring Session

When is the Best Time to Practice Positive Self-Talk?

Given that we have more free time on our hands than we did before, now is the perfect time to practice positive self-talk. Guider strongly recommends that we take care of ourselves during this unthinkable time, and work on the things we usually do not have time to work on.


Guider is on a mission to give everyone access to the career development they deserve. Get in touch to find out how we can establish impactful virtual mentoring in your organisation 👋