What is Self-Talk & Why is it Important? With Shelley Bosworth

When you think about how you talk to yourself, are you talking to yourself as you would a friend?

Or are you super critical of every single step you take and every single move you make when it comes to being yourself or being in business?

I recently spoke with my friend, Shelley Bosworth, on The Social Brain Podcast about the way we talk to ourselves, why self-talk awareness is important, and the strategies to turn negative speak into positive self-talk so you can push forward with your goals.

Prefer to listen to the audio version of our conversation? Go here.

This is a topic that is really, really important to me personally. And I know that for a lot of my entrepreneurial friends, this is something that they really battle with or really struggle with.

How we treat ourselves and how we talk to ourselves can have a huge impact on us when it comes to building our businesses and in life in general. We’re quick to support our friends, celebrate their successes and reassure them through their ‘failures’, yet why do we find it so difficult to support ourselves in the same way?

It’s time to stop the self-criticism and switch up your self-talk with these top tips from Shelley.

The two elements of self-talk

When it comes to self-talk, there are two types we typically focus on.

There's the out loud self-talk: think talking to yourself as you’re washing up or chatting to yourself when you’re working from home. We’re typically more aware of this type of self-talk and often wonder whether we’re alone in speaking to ourselves when we’re on our own.

Spoiler alert: You’re not. Everyone does it.

The second type of self-talk, and the one we need to pay close attention to, is the inner self-talk. Inner self-talk is the way we talk to ourselves about ourselves. It’s about the beliefs we have about ourselves and the way we articulate them.

Most importantly, it’s the messages we are sending to ourselves all the time.

Why is inner self-talk so important?

The messages we’re sending to ourselves are the most important thing, yet we don't even realise half the things we're saying to ourselves out loud or inwardly.

Everything we’re saying to and about ourselves is contributing to the actions we do or don’t take. If your inner conversation is saying you’re not capable, you’re not good enough or you couldn’t possibly achieve that amazing goal you’ve set for yourself, chances are you won’t take any action towards it.

Not paying attention to our self-talk can often mean that we're holding ourselves back in a bunch of ways. In business, it can have a negative effect on our confidence and can feed into our self-doubt.

How often have you taken the brave, bold action necessary to move you forwards when you’ve been stuck in self-doubt and negative self-talk?

There is such a thing as positive self-talk

Whilst negative self-talk can be the default for a lot of people, there is such a thing as positive self-talk. You may need to work a little harder on this, but it’s possible to transform your mindset and shift into positive thinking more often.

Our natural instinct is towards negative self-talk that affects our confidence and resilience in challenging times. It can affect our stress levels, impact our relationships, and take us in the wrong direction.

When you start to pay attention to your inner self-talk and can learn to turn things around, you can challenge your thoughts, change the script, and move back into a positive direction.

With positive self-talk, you can increase your confidence, improve your resilience, reduce your stress levels, and improve your relationships.

And it all starts with thinking of yourself as a friend.

If you notice any thoughts in your mind that are negative, ask yourself: “Would I say that to a friend?”. Often, the answer is going to be no.

So, think about how you’d support your friend at that moment. Would you give them a hug, share a supportive word, encourage them, and reassure them how awesome they are? Of course you would! And that’s exactly how you need to start treating yourself.

Is there such a thing as too much positive self-talk?

Shelley believes that no, there isn’t such a thing as too much positive self-talk.

She shares: “I don't think you can ever be too confident. There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is more about not thinking about others, whereas confidence is about having a belief in oneself. Confidence is about trusting yourself to do the thing, try the thing, and come out the other side, whether it does or doesn't work out.”

And the more positive your inner self-talk, the more confidence you’ll build.

Why do we always go to the negative self-talk?

Shelley explains: “Scientifically speaking, we have a negative confirmation bias. We have a negative bias in everything. It's survival. It's self-preservation. I was watching Pretty Woman at the weekend and at one point, Julia Roberts says to Richard Gere ‘The bad stuff's easier to believe’.

“And you know, if you think about it, we can all resonate with that line because actually, how often do we find it easy to take a compliment? How often do we find it easy to believe that we will be able to do something we haven't done before?”

How do you change your inner self-talk?

The first step to changing your inner self-talk is creating awareness. Start to pay attention to the thoughts you have on repeat. Notice what you’re saying as you say it out loud. If you drop something on the floor, what’s your immediate response? Is it: “Oh you’re such an idiot”? Or do you simply pick the thing up without berating yourself?

Start to really listen to yourself and your internal chatter. Have a little chat with yourself and find out where these voices are coming from. And then ask yourself: “Is this really true?”. If you accidentally drop something on the floor, are you really an ‘idiot’, or was it just one of those things?

Our inner self-talk can be learned. It can come from any manner of places, including deep trauma. It can be what you’ve learned from the way your parents spoke to themselves or behaviours you picked up from those around you.

It can be useful to understand where it’s come from but it’s not necessary in being able to change it.

Shelley says: “What can be important is to notice triggers, so become aware of trigger points. Whether that's the environment, whether that's people that might bring something up in you that then gets you speaking to yourself in a certain way. Noticing trigger points can be really useful in the same way as the awareness piece.”

Is there a connection between manifestation and self-talk?

Manifestation simply means to make something happen. If we manifest something, we make something happen. How we go about that is entirely up to everybody around us.

Here are Shelley’s thoughts on self-talk and manifestation: “I think it would be wrong to suggest anybody should have no negative self-talk. I'm human. I still have days where I give myself a hard time, or I'll say something to myself, and I know that's not particularly serving me well. The goal here is to increase the positive self-talk and reduce the negative self-talk.

The more we pay attention to that self-talk, the more positive self-talk we have, the better we feel. And most likely people around us feel better as well, because people who are constantly putting themselves down, whilst I want to put my arms around them and make them feel better, can also be a bit of a drainer.

If we think more positively about ourselves, we will likely think more positively about the world around us, which means we will see more positive things around us, which means we'll see more opportunities, which means we're likely to take more opportunities.

And because we're talking positively to ourselves, we'll actually embrace those opportunities. They're likely to go better because we're in a better state of mind, more positive state of mind. And then things start to happen that we want to. Everything starts here. And if that starts as a negative it will continue down the negative train line.

If we start with something slightly more positive, even if we don't go all the way down the positive train line, we're not going to go in that direction. And so, I 100% believe in a non-woo, but woo-curious way that if we have an ability to shift some of that self-talk to more positive. that will result in us feeling better, doing better, being better, having better and manifesting what we want”.

What tools can you use to reprogram your mind?

Here are Shelley’s top tips for reprogramming your mind and increasing your positive self-talk to reap all the benefits she’s mentioned above:

Step 1: Create awareness

Notice what you are saying to yourself, be that out loud or quietly. Really notice the inner voice and even make notes on it because then you can start to see the common themes. It’s ok to question your own voice.

Step 2: Pay attention

Pay attention to triggers because you may be surprised to notice certain thoughts happening in certain environments, with certain people, or around certain activities.

When you understand what triggers you, you can make a conscious effort to adapt in those situations or remove yourself from them completely.

Step 3: Positive Affirmations

You have to decide to change your narrative and the only way to change it is to stop saying what you’re currently saying and swap it for something more positive. This isn’t about lying to yourself. It’s about changing the narrative one tiny step at a time.

Rather than saying “I’m rubbish at X, Y, Z” you could try saying “I am able to give things a go”. This gives you a different perspective and can help you build a new habit, ingraining a new positive belief in your mind.

Shelley says: “Fundamentally, we're just telling ourselves what we believe. So positive affirmations really do work because it's reframing that statement we've been saying, that's actually quite negatively talking to ourselves and just trying to take that in a different direction.”

How long does it take to change your self-talk into something more positive?

The time it takes to change your negative self-talk really depends on your starting point and your commitment to doing something about it. This is definitely not overnight stuff.

The goal is to have awareness of it and to be able to catch it before it actually holds you back. It's not about never having those moments of negative self-talk. We all have days where we doubt ourselves, we don't feel that confident and actually we tell ourselves things that may or may not even be true.

What's more important is whether you hold onto those things or whether you're able to move through them, reframe them and choose to speak to yourself in a more positive way that’s going to move you forward.


Shelley Bosworth is a Business & Mindset Coach for women in business. Shelley helps you to get out of your own way, stop thinking about changing your mindset and actually help you build a strong mindset that’ll see you achieving all your goals.

Follow Shelley on Instagram and join her Facebook group here.


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