The power of positive talk

It’s common knowledge that you have a montage, even Rocky had a montage after all.

Whether you know it or not everyone has a montage. The tune we go through life to. The words we say to ourselves and the songs we sing in our heads (or out loud) create the mood and tone for our lives. Is your film a positive, thrilling romp or is it considerably darker?

We all have an inner critic, the one who berates us. The one who reminds us we are silly for forgetting our keys, or tells us we couldn’t possibly step up on stage in front of all those people because we will embarrass ourselves.

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When we tell children they are stupid, they stop trying. When we tell them they are useless, that no one wants to hear what they have to say, they retreat into themselves and become quiet and withdrawn. Knowing this, why is it that this is what we tell ourselves each day. We make a small mistake learning something and we tell ourselves we are useless and we stop trying. We don’t take the steps to move forward, we don’t push the boundaries. Depression is caused by the hurtful words we say to ourselves.

This is the voice that thinks it’s keeping us safe. Our ancestors needed to be accepted by the tribe, anything that put that acceptance at risk could threaten our survival. We would die without the protection of the tribe. Back then it really did keep us safe, but although we are grateful for that, that voice is not what we need now. Now we need, more than ever, a cheerleader!

We need our inner voice to encourage us to go for our dreams. To cheer us on when we are winning and to push us forward when it feels like we have stalled. We need our voice to heard and to be an individual to stand out. We need to stand out to get the job, to bag the promotion, it now benefits us to be seen.

The good news is, this inner critic still wants to help us, we just need to teach it how to help us in a modern world where to succeed we need to show our vulnerability, our personality and our opinions. We need to teach it to help us by being our cheerleader and changing the montage.

It’s time to give that critic a new role, to teach that voice how to cheer us on, how to encourage us to be ourselves and reach our goals, even when they are scary.

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Take a moment to write a list of everything you say to yourself when you have made a mistake, gotten something wrong or not lived up to your own expectations. My list used to look something like this:

  • I’m not smart enough to do that
  • of course I couldn’t do it, I’m useless
  • Everyone will laugh at me if I make a mistake
  • I’m pathetic, who wants to listen to me

When you have written your list, go through it again. Picture your child or your best friend saying that about themselves. Next to the critic phrase, write what you would say to support them, to encourage them and lift them up.

  • I might not have the knowledge right now, but I will learn
  • I can do anything if I want it enough
  • I don’ have to be perfect, I just have to show up
  • My opinion and knowledge is valuable and people do want to hear what I have to say

Use this positive reframing every time you catch yourself saying something negative. Make positive words and pictures familiar to you. Installing the cheerleader is about making negativity unfamiliar and encouragement familiar, each and every time. Change the music you listen to when you need a boost. I love REM, but sometimes singing “it’s been a bad day, please don’t take my picture” just isn’t the right tune for me. Rather I reach for The Script and remind myself that “[I] can be a hero, [I] can be the best, [I] can be the king king banging on [my] chest”

with this new montage, this cheerleader coaching you and encouraging you, you’re changing the score, the backdrop to your life. You are creating the best version of you.

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Related Post

How to Say NoHow to Say No

What was the last thing you said “No” to? A meal? Drinks with friends?

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Why did you say no; was it that you had plans with others, plans with yourself, or just couldn’t face it? How did you feel when you said No? Guilty, annoyed with yourself, tired?

You aren’t alone.

I used to feel so guilty and upset with myself if I said no to people. You want me to bake biscuits for your party? “yes”. You want me to give up the one night this week with my husband to look after your children? “Yes”. You want me to put my whole life on hold for you? “Yes”.

I would put so much on my plate and struggle to get everything done, icing cakes at ten o’clock at night. I would feel so guilty if I said no to anyone, that I just said yes to everyone. I would stay up all night to get through my list and crawl into bed feeling like I had missed out on time with my children and my husband, no matter what I accomplished I always felt like a failure, but I found out that it doesn’t have to be this way to have friends. People still like me now I have healthy boundaries, in fact they like me better now I respect myself enough to set them. Do you know the biggest surprise though on this journey, that it is so EASY once you start.

It all started by saying yes to my husband ironically. He was the first one to tell me to put a day in the diary every month that was for just me. I tried just keeping some space in my mind, but I always ended up filling it. It wasn’t until I put it physically in the diary that I was able to honestly say no to people.

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The first few times I said no to others in favour of myself, I still felt so guilty. I would spend that designated me time beating myself for letting everyone around me down, but after a couple do you know what? NO ONE cared. Not one single person that matters cared. I didn’t have to lie and say I was unwell or had other plans and people not only accepted hearing No, but I was still invited and given the opportunity to say yes.

Now I spend time with my friends and family, I help them when I can and I enjoy spa days, long baths and time to myself. I finish my day with most of the jobs done, but I don’t care if it’s not perfect or I have to roll somethings to the next day. I’m proud of myself, I’m happier and somehow, actually have more time for my family and friends.

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Every time you say No to something, you are saying Yes to something else.

Make sure the things you are saying yes to are worth it.


Watch Julie Elves and I Discuss how you can improve your self talk todayWatch Julie Elves and I Discuss how you can improve your self talk today

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What were you thinking?What were you thinking?

You stupid idiot, I can’t believe you did that? What did you do that for, twat? You should’ve known better, idiot?

They aren’t nice things to say to someone are they? But these aren’t things someone said to me, these are the phrases I said to myself, multiple times a day for 20 years. Sometimes I said them jokingly, sometimes I screamed them inside my head. I’m a peaceful person and have never really gone for violence, but woe betide the person who ever speaks to my husband or children like that.

So why do we think it is okay to bully ourselves like this? We know there are enough people outside our heads to do that for us, but still we continue to use hurtful, shameful, bullying language toward ourselves every day.

Just like a child who is bullied externally, these hurtful words wear us down. We say them so often we start to believe them because our minds don’t know care if what we tell it is true, false, helpful or unkind, it just lets it in. We repeat them over and over when even the slightest thing goes wrong until it is the loudest voice in our heads, the nagging self-doubt that says we can’t do that, we are useless.

As I mentioned, I spent 20 years tearing myself down. I never reached for anything outside of my comfort zone. When I started implementing the techniques below to change how I talk to myself, I changed my life – I never thought I would be able to practice therapy or start a blog but here I am and I can show you how to change how you feel about yourself by just changing the words you tell yourself everyday.

"You are Smart" compliment
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Today is National Compliments Day for my American cousins, and what more amazing way is there to celebrate, than starting the habit of complimenting ourselves every day. Us English as a rule could definitely use some more practice accepting compliments and the more you give and accept compliments with yourself, the more you will find you are giving and accepting compliments of those around you.

No one is going to stand on the side-lines of your life in a skimpy dress cheering your name for you (and would you want that when you are putting on your socks…..yay, go you!). But we can do this for ourselves. We can be our own cheerleaders.

When you make a mistake, catch yourself telling yourself off like some evil dictator and think, “if my best friend had done that, what would I say to them?” Show yourself some compassion when things don’t go to plan and soon you will find it easier. It will feel strange at first, but every time you notice yourself being unkind, stop, apologise, and reframe what you were saying into something you wouldn’t be ashamed to say out loud. The more you practice compassion towards yourself, the more you will feel compassion for those around you. You will have greater self-esteem and self-worth.

Now put on some Fat Boy Slim and go and Praise you like you should!