How Much Does Self-talk Really Affect You?


Created by
Karen Gray CH, RN

We all experience self-talk. It is the thoughts we have about ourselves and the world around us. It is that dialogue we have when we “talk to ourselves.” But how much does that really affect you? And how important is it to your day to day life?


In order to understand how self-talk influences us, we have to understand a little about how the mind works. For the sake of time, we can simplify the mind down to two basic parts.


Your Conscious Mind

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You can think of your conscious mind as a small data collector. Your conscious mind is in charge of taking in all the information about everything around you and sending that information off to your subconscious mind. That’s it. That is its job. It does not influence behaviors or emotions, and it is not capable of changing your self-talk on its own.


Your conscious mind communicates with Logic, and Reason, and Rational Thinking. It works in Facts and Figures. It is designed to use your senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing to determine where you are and what is going on around you. It is not very good at getting you to change your habits, or at influencing your emotions. It just doesn’t know how.


This is why we keep doing things that we know aren’t good for us. This is why no matter how hard we try to apply reason to our emotional states they still get the better of us. Which brings us to the other part of the mind.


The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind is immense, and it is in charge of everything that you do not have conscious control over. It determines your heart rate, your blood pressure, and how many times a minute you blink. It works in imagination and governs your moods, habits, behaviors, and your self-talk.


Your subconscious mind has the very important job of keeping you alive and safe. It uses its ability to influence your thoughts and behaviors to do just that. Think about a time when you felt nervous or afraid. Your subconscious mind was responding to your environment in a way that made you want to avoid that situation. This is one of the ways that your subconscious mind protects you.


Because of the very important role your very powerful subconscious mind plays, it tends to override anything external, including your own conscious mind. What this means is that unless your subconscious mind agrees with the advice your friends are giving you, or the reasonable and logical idea from your conscious mind, it is going to ignore it.


About That Self Talk

There is a continuous conversation going on in everyone's head, all the time. A lot of energy, time and attention goes into maintaining these conversations, and their emotional impact on us is as real as anything else we might experience.


All throughout our day there is a continuous stream of self talk going on inside our minds. These thoughts, feelings, and ideas are there to influence how we think and feel about ourselves and the world around us. It is that voice in our heads that tells us what we think about ourselves. Sometimes it is good and supportive, but all too often it is negative and limiting.


Because self-talk comes from the subconscious mind, it is almost impossible to argue with. Rational thinking and logic is no match for the imagination and the subconscious mind, and the self-talk prevails. You can think of it like hearing something from a source you trust. It just so happens that you are the smartest person you know, and you believe everything you say!


Self-talk tends to have a “snowball effect”. Each time you hear the same thing you believe it with more conviction and determination. For example, if you hear something once from a coworker, you might be skeptical, until you hear it from someone at the store, and then again on the radio. The more often you hear something, the more believable it becomes. So, the more often you tell yourself something, the more you believe it. You begin to accept it as fact.


The intensity of the effects of our self-talk increases when we consider the effect emotions have on believing our self-talk. When something you think causes you to feel emotions,  more energy is attached to the thoughts. When emotional energy is attached to thoughts it gives them even more validity and power, making them even more effective at influencing our behaviors.


The Power of Negative Self-talk

We can be really critical of ourselves at times. We may be telling ourselves that we aren’t good enough, we aren’t strong enough, or even that we do not deserve something. Sometimes we can put down the way we look and act, and still other times we may just put ourselves down by saying that we are stupid, slow, impatient, unlovable, and worse.

We hear these statements as facts. Remember that we believe everything that we tell ourselves. And since we believe that these ugly statements are true, we subconsciously shape our behaviors to validate these negative thoughts. We become what we say to ourselves.


The effect that negative self-talk has on a person is very similar to how affirmations are used to instill positive thoughts. Consistently repeating an idea tells the subconscious mind that you are trying to establish a new behavior. The subconscious mind accepts these thoughts and words as truth and then acts on them, making those negative thoughts a reality.


Getting Positive - The Role of Hypnosis

You have the ability to change what you are saying to yourself and about yourself by using your subconscious mind to your advantage. The first and probably easiest way is by using positive affirmations as a self-hypnosis suggestion.


Sit in a comfortable position where it is safe to close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths to calm your body, and begin to visualize your desired outcome. Maybe you would like to be calmer or more focused. Maybe you would like to be more patient with your kids, or more assertive at work. Whatever you want to see happen, picture it in your mind as if it is already happening. Imagine yourself in that situation reacting exactly how you would like yourself to be.


With that desired outcome in your mind, repeat this phrase ten times.


“Every day, in every way, I am better and better.”


The combination of imagining the desired outcome, your focus on success, imagining the emotions that come with the success, and the positive phrasing creates a very powerful suggestion that will give you positive results almost immediately.


Another technique allows you to separate yourself from the negative thoughts. Sit in your safe and comfortable position again, and take a few deep breaths. Begin by focusing on your breathing, letting it become rhythmic and steady.


Once you are in a good and steady rhythm, shift your focus to the thoughts in your mind. Imagine that each of your thoughts is a leaf floating down a stream. You can notice each thought as it floats by, but allow it to move along, even becoming fainter as it moves farther away. By putting some space between you and your thoughts, their level of importance decreases, and you will no longer feel pressured, pushed, or overwhelmed by them.


Hypnosis allows you to resolve the cause of the negative thinking without having to relive any trauma. Your subconscious mind is using these patterns of thinking to protect you, and it just doesn’t know that there is a better way. By using positive suggestions in hypnosis it is possible to heal wounds from the past and replace the negative thinking with a more positive and supportive dialogue.


Having an inner dialogue is healthy and normal. Unfortunately, we are all too often giving ourselves negative thoughts that break down our confidence and lead to negative emotions, fears, and self-defeating behaviors. By becoming aware of it, replacing it with positive thoughts, and learning to manage it, you will enjoy the benefits of a more positive, productive, and happier life.∎


Karen Gray is a Certified Hypnotist, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, contact Karen at karengray@greenmountainhypnosis.com, or call (802) 566-0464.


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