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Be Careful of the Words You Use When Speaking to Yourself

Feb 23, 2022

Recently I was working with a client who was finally able to uncover how terribly she speaks to herself. She regularly says things like, “I messed that up”, “I will never have enough time”, “I don’t ever follow through with things”, and “I’m always disappointing people”. It has become a habit for these phrases, or other phrases like them, to run through her mind. In addition, she always takes the blame when things don’t go well, and rarely takes the credit when things do go well, because she does not want to seem like she is bragging.

Do you see how problematic this can be for her self-esteem, for her overall emotional state, and for her confidence regarding being able to accomplish the things she really wants in her life? Her thinking pattern had become so routine that she was not even questioning the accurateness of her thoughts. She was just accepting them as true, even if there was plenty of evidence to prove that they were not true.


No wonder she was experiencing low mood, a lack of motivation, and felt like she was not moving forward in her life. If you believed that you always mess things up, that there is not enough time to get things done, that you don’t accomplish what you set out to, and that you disappoint others, you would likely want to shrink, play small in life, and do everything you could to stay in your comfort zone (even if it was not actually comfortable at all).


The good news is that she finally uncovered this pattern of self-talk so we were able to implement strategies to start to create better patterns that worked for her, instead of against her. What is fascinating about our brains is that they are very amenable to change. It does not take years to change negative thinking patterns, even if they have been present for years. The key is always consistency. If you believe you have negative thinking patterns that are causing challenges for you, try the strategies below. 

Strategies for changing your negative thinking patterns about yourself.

  • Uncover them. When you notice negative feelings, ask yourself, “what am I thinking right now that is causing this feeling”. If you are speaking negatively about yourself, write your thoughts down. Do this as often as possible so that you can see all the trashy thoughts you have, and also so you can identify any patterns.


  • Challenge them. If, for example, you notice that you say something like, “I never follow through with what I say I am going to do”, challenge it. Ask yourself, “Is it true that I NEVER, NOT ONCE follow through with what I say I am going to do?”. Likely, you will confirm that your initial statement is not true. If so, sticking with this example, write down at least 3 things that you have followed through with in the past (big or small).


  • Come up with a different thought that is more accurate. You might say, “I don’t always follow through exactly how I planned, but I am a work in progress and I will learn from this.”. Another thought may be, “I did not follow my plan, how can I regroup and get closer to where I want to be?”. The more you do this, the faster you will start to change your automatic, negative thinking patterns. Don’t you think you would feel a lot different about yourself if you thought like this? When you feel different, you take different action, and get different results. 


  • If you are struggling to come up with new thoughts, step out of your own shoes and into someone else’s. Imagine someone you care about was in the same situation you are when you have your negative thoughts about yourself. Imagine you are listening to them beat themselves up with their negative thinking. What would you say to them? It is likely kinder than what you would say to yourself. Think about what you would say to them and then try speaking to yourself in the same way.


  • Every day, write down 1 thing you are proud of or 1 thing you did well during the previous 24 hours. It does not have to be anything big, in fact, noticing the smaller things that you might otherwise dismiss is a good thing. It is a way of helping to remind your brain that you are doing lots of positive things, so that it does not only focus on the challenges you are experiencing.


As a reminder, consistency with this is key. The more often you catch yourself and challenge your thoughts, the more successful you will be in changing those automatic thinking patterns. What you say to yourself impacts how you feel, your relationships, your actions, and the results you get in your life. Start speaking to yourself as you would speak to a good friend and notice the positive impact it has. You’ve got this!

Live your best boss lady life.

~ Karen

Karen Vincent Solutions

If you are interested in some more information about ways of improving thought patterns that are not working for you, sign up for a free coaching consultation session with me by clicking HERE.

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