How you are talking

photo by Roger Rössing, courtesy of Deutsche Fotothek via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Roger Rössing, courtesy of Deutsche Fotothek via Wikimedia Commons

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself, because you are listening.”
Lisa M. Hayes

One year ago, I wrote about hearing stupid remarks.  Today, I’m writing about saying them myself.  I have a double standard when it comes to what I say; I will talk to myself in ways I would never talk to another person.  I might chide myself for a careless error, or remark about how old I am getting, or how much weight I’ve gained, or what a dummy I was to forget something.

I don’t know why I think it’s okay to talk to myself that way, but I have seen many others do the same thing to themselves, so I know I’m not alone in this habit.  Perhaps it’s a way of trying to seem humble, though that would not explain why I mostly do it when nobody is around.  But I’m still hearing everything I say.  And we don’t need continual put-downs, even when they come from ourselves.

Another way I sometimes talk to myself is when I think something inside my head but don’t say it aloud.  Often, these are negative remarks about other people, or upsetting circumstances.  This can be just as damaging, maybe more.

If I send myself silent but critical remarks about other people, or gloomy prognostications about disasters that may be waiting in the wings, I’m ruining my own day.  It’s easy to be critical and reactive, but I’m never happy when I fill my head with such thoughts.  On the other hand, when I replace the fearful and cynical self-talk with affirmations of faith and hope, I feel pretty happy just to be alive.  When I decide that I like everybody until they give me a good reason not to like them, I’m find I’m surrounded by mostly nice people.

Today, I invite you to join me in paying close attention to how we talk to ourselves.  After all, we are listening — and we will respond accordingly.


One year ago today:

So many stupid remarks


  1. HarryS

    He was Leo Booth, Then Father Leo (Who said to me “recovery is about being positive and creative”) and now Rev. Leo Booth.
    Obviously this would include self talk.
    Thank you Julia.

    • You’re welcome, Harry. I like the linking of creativity to being positive. Sometimes I have to get creative to be positive – especially on days such as today! But the materials to work with are always there, and for that I am ever thankful.

  2. raynard

    Julia, 2 songs come to mind. One was” you talk too much, you worry me to death. The other was”You talk too much, you never shut up..I’m studying the art of talking and I was told i talk to hear myself. So as I get like” Snoopy from Charlie Brown with a ” cloud above my head with words”. I digress. You be surprise with you get tougue tied” not because you are “playing that old game show” Password ” or 25,000 dollar Pyramid .. I always wondered if” Porky Pig would of ever made it as a 911 operator” I digress lol

    • I remember that first song, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard the second one. On the first one I remember the line “You talk too much, you even worry my pet.” I don’t think I talk to hear myself since I don’t much like the sound of my own voice, especially on tape. That’s why I prefer writing. But I do sometimes talk to figure out how I feel or what I think. When you do that kind of talking you have to be careful who hears it. But it can be helpful for some of us to talk things over even if only with ourselves. Porky Pig could not have done 911 but come to think of it neither could Foghorn Leghorn or C-3PO or Chewbacca. I guess we should be grateful that some people can maintain a clear tone of voice even in an emergency.

  3. You’re not alone Julia. I too, as I’m sure many, catch myself with a knee-jerk reaction of anger, frustratiion or fear. That is why a nightly examination of conscience goes a long way to maintaining peace of mind. For me, I know there are words or actions that are not pleasing to God and those that are. For the good I offer Him in gratitude and for the bad I ask mercy and for the grace to do better tomorrow. Sort of like an “etch-a sketch.” Awake in the morning with a clean slate and see what improvements can be made at the end of the day.

    • Alan, that’s a good way of looking at it. I find that over-reacting to any slip ups or mistakes can cause me to give up, thus becoming a self-perpetuating cycle. It’s important to remember that we can always start again, each day or even mid-day, and head in a more positive direction, even if we are taking small steps.

  4. Julia, I have battled with negative self-talk my whole life. I heard my mom do that her entire life. It is s terrible habit! I hope to change someday! 😉

    • I’m with you. It really is something we do without thinking most of the time. I am trying to catch myself at it, and correct my thinking. Some days I do better at it than others!

  5. Good morning, Julia!
    So true. And I will tell myself that I need to be criticized for forgetting something, as if punishment for my error will prevent it from reoccurring.
    I don’t think it helps, though. Likely as not adding extra stress may impair my memory further.
    Is it OK to say to one’s self, “you are smarter than this!” Or is that still criticism?

    • Susan, I never thought about it before but I think you are right…the negative self-talk is a kind of punishment but I agree with you that it doesn’t help. In fact, I seem to feel more rattled the more I do it. I think “you are smarter than this” can be an affirmative statement – if it calms you and reinforces that you need not over-react. In other words, not in the spirit of “why’d you do that, you ought to know better!” but more like “come on, you know you can do this.” I had a professor once who began the final exam by telling the class, “Don’t get stressed!! You KNOW this material!” It was a big help, I think.

      • Very good distinction between the two approaches. Thanks!
        We are so blessed when we have a teacher like the one that you quoted.

        • Thank you, Susan. I’ve really needed to pay attention to how I have been talking to myself lately! No matter how much I try, I can’t seem to ignore the things I say to myself, so I need to be aware. Joyce Meyer also has some great things to say on this topic.

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