Self-talk, or the way we talk to ourselves, has a significant impact on our self-confidence. The words we use when we talk to ourselves can either empower us or hold us back. So it’s no surprise that positive self-talk can affect our confidence levels and help us achieve our goals.
It will come as no surprise to you that calling yourself a silly cow when something goes wrong is not going to help at all. This was one of my favourites until I beat it out of me. Ok, I didn’t beat it out of me. Instead, I gently coaxed my self-talk to be more compassionate. But it took a while.
Self-confidence is an important aspect of our lives. It affects our self-esteem, the way we interact with others, and our overall sense of well-being. When we feel confident, we are more likely to take risks, try new things, and put ourselves out there. However, when we lack confidence, we may hesitate to take action or try something new, which can hold us back from reaching our full potential.
Our self-talk can either help us build our self-confidence or contribute to feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. For example, negative self-talk, such as “I’m useless at XYZ” or “I always mess things up,” can erode confidence over time. On the other hand, positive self-talk, such as “I am capable of achieving my goals” or “I am worthy of success,” can help us build confidence and belief in ourselves.
But a mantra or affirmation on its own is as useless as a chocolate teapot. Of course, no one would believe that putting hot water into a chocolate anything will work, so why do we talk to ourselves in such an undermining way?
That’s easy: self-talk influences our beliefs and attitudes about ourselves. The way we talk to ourselves shapes our self-image and can impact our expectations for ourselves. For example, if we constantly tell ourselves that we are not good enough, we may start to believe it and set lower expectations for ourselves. This can create a self-fulfilling prophecy where we don’t achieve as much as we could because we don’t believe in ourselves.
This self-fulfilling prophecy is a nightmare which can last a long time. I remember my first husband saying that if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be anyone or anywhere and telling me that I was stupid. It drove me insane but built upon things I’d previously heard. Such as, after passing my 11Plus, the teacher told my dad that despite that, I would never go to University.
And I didn’t. I left school early, not believing in myself and having appalling low self-worth and confidence. Despite my confident exterior, I was not a happy girl. I did, however, go to University in my 30’s and do an MBA. Yes, I passed, but I continued believing I wasn’t good enough. And yes, I did divorce the husband.
If only I had known how to use positive self-talk to build a more positive self-image and set higher expectations for myself. When we tell ourselves positive things, we start to believe them, leading to greater self-confidence and motivation. Positive self-talk can help us focus on our strengths, celebrate successes, and overcome obstacles.
On the other hand, as you already know, this negative self-talk can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. When we feel happy, optimistic and self-assured, we are more likely to take action, try new things, and take risks. Although, in my experience, I was one of those people who would leap in and try things. Sometimes they worked and sometimes not. What I did was look before I leapt without the parachute of positive beliefs about myself.
But it’s all feedback, isn’t it, in this messy thing called life?
Can Affirmations Help Boost Self-Confidence?
Lots of things can help, but finding the thing that helps you can be like finding a needle in a haystack. I found a way of using affirmations that helped me to peel back the layers.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are positive statements or phrases you can repeat to yourself to change your thoughts and behaviours. These statements can be about any aspect of one’s life, such as self-worth, self-confidence, relationships, or career goals.
There are many potential benefits to using affirmations as part of a confidence boosting routine. One of which is improved self-esteem. Affirmations can help you to develop a more positive self-image, reduce negative self-talk and help you to build your confidence.
To get the most out of affirmations, it is important to choose specific, positive, and achievable statements. So an affirmation like I am a beautiful princess, while very lovely, isn’t going to cut the self-confidence mustard.
Affirmations are things you affirm as true and describe something positive you want to achieve. They are usually short sentences that you can easily repeat during the day. They are designed to tell your unconscious mind that something is real. Your unconscious mind will see these positive statements, and they will be triggered into action.
This does not mean that all you have to do is say an affirmation, and as if by magic, it will be so. Oh no… While it all sounds remarkably easy. It can, however, take a while to reverse the negative self-talk stuff. The affirmations are the start of an action plan, which will help you to get through many dark nights of the soul.
The point is that affirmations influence behaviour, which means that your beliefs and habits will change. As a result, you will become more confident and do whatever needs doing.
There’s lots of reasons affirmations don’t work, such as mindlessly chanting them. I’ll cover that in another article. But for now, make a choice about what your thoughts are. Yeah, ok, I get it. These words just slip out. You could pretend to be a wizard and imagine holding a wand and saying (in your head) I neutralise you. Now, while you think that's amusing and silly, it may just work.
Working With Affirmations To Build Self-Confidence
Pick an affirmation and work with it. Let’s go with I speak to myself with love, kindness and compassion.
Take a few breaths and focus on your heart
Read the affirmation. Say it aloud
How does it make you feel? Good, or perhaps there is some resistance?
If you feel resistance, ask why and explore in your journal
If something comes up, reframe it. For example, Jeez, I was bloody awful - as usual, to I may feel I was not so great at XYZ. However, I did get some positive feedback
If it feels good, write about what feels good
If the affirmation works for you, make a point to repeat it often. Bring your hands to your heart when you do and take a few breaths to bring you into the present moment
Then explore other ways you will use this affirmation throughout the day
Write it as a question (see below) - what are the ways that I can talk to myself with love, kindness and compassion? Then do them
Reflect at the end of the day in your journal. What did you or didn’t you learn? What will you do differently?
When you say the affirmation, it brings up a strange sensation of not being 100% true. Ask yourself why. Connect with your heart, turn it into a question and explore it in your journal.
If the affirmation that has been designed to build self-confidence by changing our self-talk is not the right one – it will obviously not work for you…
Mull this affirmation around, I speak to myself with love, kindness and compassion. Can you hear yourself say, do I really?
Write in your journal – how do I speak to myself with love, kindness and compassion? After exploring this, you can choose one thing you will do today to respect yourself, treat yourself as you would a friend, and speak to yourself with love, kindness and compassion.
Take action and reflect on what happens when you do. This might be as simple as turning I can’t into I can, or instead of silly cow, I am a beautiful princess (only kidding, but if it makes you smile, go for it).
Working With Your Chosen Affirmation
I Speak To Myself With Love, Kindness And Compassion
This has to be an affirmation that resonates with you (I’ve said that) and is about what you want to change. At this pivotal moment in your life, these words resonate with a profound truth that seeks to illuminate the shadows within, calling on your courage to face how you speak to yourself.
Start to notice how you speak to yourself. These words are etched on your body. While you may tattoo yourself with a positive affirmation, you would not dream of writing your words of hatred on yourself for all to see. Your body can hear your words. Notice what they are and start to change them.
What I find helps me is keeping Post-it notes in the kitchen and bathroom and writing little heart notes. I feel fab when I find them (not sure how I could have forgotten I wrote them), and they help reinforce a positive self-image and self-love. When I find the notes, I say what is on them aloud. I also start the day by looking in the mirror and saying my chosen affirmation. And whenever I catch myself about to criticise myself, I turn it around with a reframe.
Part 1 – sit quietly with these questions and your journal.
Pick a negative thought that is associated with the affirmation
What triggered this thought?
What emotions am I feeling right now while having this thought?
What am I saying to myself?
Is this negative thought true, or is it just my opinion?
Could I be wrong about this?
How else can I look at this?
What evidence supports this thought?
What evidence disputes it?
Is this negative thought serving a positive purpose in my life? If so, how?
Is this thought interfering with my inner peace and happiness?
How can I change this thought into something more positive?
If someone else had this thought, what would I say to them?
What would someone else say to me if they knew I was having this thought?
Is the true reason for this thought because I’m trying to avoid something? If so, what is it? Why am I avoiding/resisting this? How can I address this?
Am I taking responsibility for something that is not my fault or within my control?
What is the worst thing that could happen if this thought is true? Could I handle it, and how?
What’s the best thing that could happen if this thought is true?
Part 2 – What is the story behind the voice?
When you talk to yourself, who do you hear? I don’t mean you. I mean, perhaps a parent or a teacher. Stop and listen. Who first spoke to you in this way? Or who did you notice speaking to themselves as you do? Remember, as children, we learn from others, such as teachers. And it sticks. Is there a story attached? While you may not want to go in time to events that could be triggering, there is always great insight to be had when you notice where something has come from. The underlying voice and its story are just waiting to be revealed. When they do, it’s always a fascinating aha moment.
Take some moments to think about whose voice you hear and the story that goes with it. Then, ask yourself, is it really you talking or someone else?
Part 3 – Reframe
Now that you understand how you talk to yourself, it’s time to think about being kinder to yourself. One way to do this is to take one of your statements and say it in a few different ways.
Try it. What do you notice about how each feels? And where do you feel it in your body? The next thing to do is reframe what you say to yourself.
Change, I’m a silly cow. With – While I may feel silly, I am a unique and valuable individual deserving of love, respect, and kindness. Or I may have messed this up, but I’ve done this before, so I can do it again.
Record yourself – this is fascinating. Normally, you only hear yourself through your ears. Listening back to a recording will allow you to hear your true voice. Practice reframing and recording your voice—Journal about what you discover.
Embrace this affirmation as a sacred gift from your heart, a gentle reminder to always speak to yourself with love, kindness and compassion to build your self-confidence. As you do so, you will find that the wisdom of your heart will guide you towards a life filled with love, joy and the inner peace that comes with feeling more confident.
What does speaking to myself with love, kindness, and compassion mean to me, and how can I cultivate more of it in my life?
How can I speak to myself with kindness and compassion when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed?
What beliefs or self-talk patterns do I need to let go of to speak to myself with more love and kindness?
How can I practice self-compassion when I make mistakes or face challenges?
What is one thing you can do today to challenge and change your self-talk?
I hope you have enjoyed this and are ready to embrace your inner princess and speak to yourself in a kinder way.
And if you love affirmations, this book 101 Affirmations To Get You Through The Day is fab.