Understanding Self-Talk and Its Effects on Our Mental Health


Have you ever listened to the conversations you have with yourself? Throughout the day, we all have an internal voice that narrates our decisions, praises our successes, and often criticizes our mistakes. This inner voice, known as self-talk, significantly influences how we perceive and react to daily events. It shapes our emotions, affects our decisions, and forms our attitudes about the world around us.

Self-talk isn’t just casual internal chatter; it has powerful implications for our mental health. Positive self-talk can lead to improved confidence and a more optimistic outlook, while negative self-talk can pull us down, increasing feelings of anxiety and depression. Identifying the nature of our self-talk and learning to shift from negative to positive can be transformative.

Exploring Self-Talk: What It Is and Its Impact

Self-talk refers to the internal dialogue that goes on in our minds throughout the day. This continuous stream of thoughts can be both conscious and unconscious, influencing our emotions, behaviors, and overall mental health. It’s like a running commentary that constantly interprets and judges our experiences and interactions with the world. The nature of this self-talk—whether it’s positive or negative—can significantly impact the way we view ourselves and our capabilities.

For instance, when faced with a challenging task, if our self-talk is positive—thoughts like “I can do this” or “I’ll give it my best shot”—we feel motivated and capable. Conversely, if our internal dialogue leans towards negative—such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’m bound to fail”—it can diminish our confidence and increase feelings of inadequacy. This impacts not just our mood but also our actions and the outcomes of our endeavors. Understanding the power of our self-talk is the first step towards harnessing it to foster greater resilience and a healthier mindset.

The Role of Negative Self-Talk in Anxiety and Depression

Negative self-talk can be particularly harmful, especially when it becomes a persistent pattern. Such self-talk can spiral into a constant feed of self-criticism and pessimism, contributing significantly to the development and exacerbation of anxiety and depression. When we repeatedly tell ourselves we are inadequate or incapable, these messages get ingrained deeply, skewing our worldview and decreasing our ability to handle life’s stressors effectively.

For someone with anxiety, negative self-talk often revolves around fears of future disasters or feelings of being out of control. Depression, on the other hand, might manifest self-talk that reinforces feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. This harmful dialogue can trigger or worsen these emotional states, creating a vicious cycle that’s tough to break. Recognizing these patterns is crucial because it’s the first step toward changing them. By identifying and addressing negative self-talk, individuals can begin to uncover and dismantle the underlying beliefs that contribute to their mental health challenges.

Therapy Strategies to Overcome Negative Self-Talk

Therapy can be a powerful tool in transforming negative self-talk, which often fuels the cycles of anxiety and depression. In therapy sessions, I focus on identifying the patterns of negative thinking that my clients routinely engage in. Once these patterns are made apparent, the next step involves challenging and reshaping them. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is particularly effective for this purpose. It teaches you to question the validity of your negative thoughts and replace them with more balanced and realistic ones, thereby decreasing their power to affect your mood and behavior.

Another technique involves mindfulness, which allows you to observe your thoughts without judgment. By becoming more aware of the mental chatter without immediately reacting to it, you can gain greater control over your responses to those thoughts. Together, we work on strategies like ‘thought stopping’ and ‘thought replacement’ that help interrupt negative self-talk as soon as it starts, replacing it with affirmations or positive counterstatements that promote a healthier and more positive mindset.

Enhancing Your Life with Positive Self-Talk and Its Benefits

Developing positive self-talk is not just about reducing negative thoughts—it’s about building a voice that actively supports and encourages you. Positive self-talk can significantly boost your confidence and reduce the stress that often comes with negative thinking. In our therapy sessions, we cultivate a habit of gratitude and self-compassion, which are key components of positive self-talk. By focusing on what you appreciate and forgiving yourself for your mistakes, you can foster a more loving and supportive internal dialogue.

The benefits of positive self-talk are far-reaching. Increased positivity can lead to better stress management, enhanced resilience, and greater satisfaction in life. Moreover, people who engage in positive self-talk are more likely to pursue their goals with optimism and persistence. Over time, this practice can not only improve your mental health but also your overall life satisfaction as you learn to approach challenges with a positive outlook and a belief in your own abilities to overcome them.


Throughout our lives, self-talk shapes our experiences and feelings in powerful ways. By understanding and transforming this inner dialogue, especially turning negative self-talk into a positive, supportive voice, we can significantly improve our mental health and overall well-being. 

If you’re struggling with the effects of negative self-talk or wish to enhance your resilience through positive self-talk, I am here to help. As an anxiety and depression therapist, I can help you develop strategies that will empower you to lead a more fulfilled and more hopeful life. Reach out today, and let’s take the first step towards a happier, healthier you.

Dr. Sarah Allen

If you have any questions, or would like to set up an appointment to work with me and learn how to reduce anxiety, please contact me at 847 791-7722 or on the form below.

If you would like to read more about me and my areas of specialty,  please visit Dr. Sarah Allen Bio.

Dr. Allen’s professional license only allows her to work with clients who live in IL & FL & the UK and unfortunately does not allow her to give personalized advice via email to people who are not her clients. 

Dr. Allen sees clients in person in her Northbrook, IL office or remotely via video or phone.

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