What is Self-Talk and How Does it Impact Your Wellbeing

How you treat yourself can be reflected in how you treat others. By this logic, the way you speak to yourself can influence how you speak to others and how you feel about yourself. What is self-talk and why does it matter?

Self-talk is more common than you think –source

Learn everything you need to know about this habit, and what are the benefits or cons of doing it? Is it even normal to talk to yourself? All of these questions and more are answered here in this guide.

What is Self Talk

Self-talk is the stream of narration in your head, the monologue that runs as an inner voice throughout your life. This is different from thinking of an image or recalling facts and information. This type of inner voice refers to thoughts directed at yourself or aspects of your life.


Different types include reflections, self-critiques, or observations about the world around you. It can be thinking, I should really work out more or this traffic is soooo annoying.


Even speaking out loud to yourself counts as self-talk. This can be seen in children, as they tend to vocalize thoughts and observations more readily than adults. In fact, it can be seen as beneficial to the development of children as they tend to repeat and practice conversations while playing.


As you grow, the out-loud self-talk naturally becomes internalized. This internal monologue is highly important to wellbeing. It can help you or hurt you, depending on how you do it.

Is Self Talk Normal?

Absolutely. It’s something many of us do, sometimes without even realizing it! It can happen at any time in any situation. Maybe you set your alarm for 5 am and think Why did I want to get up this early? This is horrible. When you’re drinking a cup of coffee you think I really should have splurged on the more expensive brand, this tastes like gasoline. Maybe you’re heading out the door, you walk down the apartment’s steps, get to your car, and remember oh no, I forgot to lock the door to my place, I’m such an idiot.

Decades of research have shown that talking to yourself is completely normal. More than that, the way to talk to yourself influences you greatly. This inner voice can be positive or negative by default. Meaning it can either increase worries and fears or boost confidence and calm you. 


Self-talk can help you plan, increase motivation, boost challenge-solving, or prepare you, depending on how you do it. It largely helps you process emotions and thoughts and work through issues.

Motivational self-talk can increase self-esteem, and focus, and helps you accomplish tasks. For example, in this study, individuals that practiced motivational self-talk had more energy and accuracy in their sport.

Speaking to yourself can also help you regulate emotions as you work through issues and come to new solutions, all on your own.

Negative Self-Talk

As a species, however, we humans are prone to negative self-talk. It’s ok to be critical of yourself every now and then. We are works in progress and should always be looking to improve. However, a constant stream of negativity aimed at yourself can lead to feeling defeated, depression, anxiety, loss of control, and can become a toxic trait.

How to Stop

A proven field of treatment for excessive negative self-talk is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT focuses on training the mind to stop ruminating on negativity and regulating the tone of self-talk.

CBT uses strategies to identify habits of negative thoughts and replace them with neutral or kinder thoughts. Over time, it trains the mind to gravitate less towards the negative, or at least gives you the tools you need to notice a negative thought and deal with it. This in turn tends to improve mental health greatly.

A Technique to Boost Wellbeing

Here’s a type of inner speech you can practice. Distanced self-talk is a type of inner communication that can help you work through problems and motivate you greatly. It is particularly good at reducing stress when you are doing an activity that makes you anxious.

Distanced self-talk allows you to be more rational and less irritated. You, speaking to yourself, can think, Jess, you can do this. You can trust yourself, you can believe in yourself, you can get through this.

Tips to Practice

Here are some tips to help your inner voice be kinder!

  • Mirror – look at yourself in the mirror, and try to be more compassionate.
  • Affirmations – use affirmations to focus the mind into a more positive state and rewire negative habits.
  • Repetition – habits are made by repetition. To make positive self-talk into a habit, you have to practice it a lot.
  • Address yourself by name – addressing yourself by name adds a degree of separation. This can help you be more clear-headed and rational.
  • Mindfulness – mindfulness meditations are a good state to practice positive self-talk in. You are calm and in the present moment, which can let you gravitate toward more positive feelings and thoughts.
  • Journal – sometimes, just talking in your mind is not enough to work through an issue. It might help to journal your thoughts and emotions. This can help get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper, where you can look at them and work them out. Journaling can also help clear out the mind as you don’t need to remember everything and keep thinking about it.

The Takeaway

Self-talk is a vital component of mental wellbeing. It is normal, something everyone does, from children to adults. Your inner voice can determine whether or not you believe in yourself and can influence your actions. An inner monologue determines how you view and interact with the world. As humans, we tend to be more negative, which is why it is important to train the mind and help it out. Some ways to rewire the mind include cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, self-reflection, or journaling.

Remember that health comes from within, so eat well, exercise, and care for your mental health. Daily habits become building blocks for overall health. Plus, try to take care of microbiota health. Learn everything you need to know about gut microbiota today for free here.

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