MSS041 4 Easy Ways to Soften Abusive Self Talk

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MSS #041: 4 Easy Ways to Soften Abusive Self Talk

21 Oct 23

MSS #041: 4 ways to reduce the impact of your own self talk.

21 Oct, 2023

Read time: 5.5 minutes

This week learn 4 simple, quick hacks to radically change damaging self-talk.

Our self-talk or brain chatter is incessant having a major impact on our wellbeing and ability to act. Learning how to tame it, alleviates discomfort and enables us to live better, more effective lives.

Most of us are unaware of the damage our self-talk causes, because we are consciously unaware.

Now you will be able to spot bad self-talk, as you know what to look for and how to change it.

Let’s get into it now. 👇

4 quick self talk wellbeing changes:

Our self-talk is almost constant and dictates our mindset, outlook, mood, motivation and so much more - upgrading our continuous mind chatter, is a quick and effective way to change how we feel and act.

Here is what you will learn:

1. Two powerful words that introduce possibility

2. Changing your self-talk voice

3. Detaching from your self-talk voice

4. To move away from damaging absolutes words like “always”

Self-talk is an unconscious habit. Research shows we are seldom aware of our habits, they just happen like a silent autopilot.

  • First step is to start awareness of what you are saying to yourself

  • Then start noticing opportunities to apply the 4 hacks

  • It’s easier then to change your self-talk.

What is self-talk?  

The human brain has evolved over millenniums, with 3 distinct steps in brain evolution.

Self-talk originates from the older part of our evolutionary brain that is highly focused on keeping you safe. This part of the brain has learnt lots of “ideas” on what you should be “protected” from, most of which got programmed in before you were seven years old. As a result, lots of this learning is not appropriate now you are an adult. For example.

Most parents teach us not to talk to strangers, to keep us safe. As adults this can impact us when we want to meet new contacts in a business networking event, or when making sales calls to someone we have never met before.

A good approach is you choose just one of these hacks, implement it, make it your new habit. Then choose another one and layer this on. Avoid the temptation of using all the hacks and then in fact using none! I want you to be successful.

Ready to get into it…………… we go then:

Hack 1# Two powerful words that introduce possibility

Add the word ‘yet’

When you are aware of a limiting script running in your head such as

“You know you cannot run at that speed”

, add the word “yet” at the end. This is a simple approach, but powerful because transforms the limiting, negative self-talk into a hint of possibility.

It is effective because it is so simple and quick to do. It is far easier to modify your negative self-talk script, than change it to “can” from “cannot”


“I cannot learn all of that” BECOMES “I cannot learn all of that, yet

“I am no good at exercising” BECOMES “I am no good at exercising, yet

“I cannot seem to understand this” BECOMES “I cannot seem to understand this, yet

“I can’t run fast when exercising” BECOMES “I can’t run fast, when exercising, yet

The beauty of this technique is you do not need work too hard changing the self-talk, you can simply modify it at the end.

Add ‘up until now’ to limiting self-talk

You can use this approach 2 ways. You can add the phrase “up until now” at the end of the self-talk, in a similar way to “yet” above or at the beginning of the self-talk.


“I always get nervous giving speeches” BECOMES

“I always get nervous giving speeches, up until now”


“Up until now, I always get nervous giving speeches”

“I am no good at speaking up in groups” BECOMES

“I am no good speaking up in groups, up until now


“Up until now, I am no good speaking up in groups”

Adding the phrase at the beginning of the self-talk requires a bit more awareness the self-talk script is about to kick off. Here are some more examples.

“I always mess up” BECOMES “Up until now, I always mess up”

“I cannot run fast” BECOMES “Up until now, I cannot run fast”

Hack 2# Change your self-talk voice - who said that!

The voice in our head or brain chatter appears in different ways for all of us. Quite often it is an actual voice or an awareness of an emotion in words.

There are many ways this is described, sometimes as the voice on your shoulder, whispering into your ear. So do not get too concerned how you sense it, but we all have one.

What voice?

We all have a specific voice for our self-talk, we may have more than one. Each has its own unique tone, timbre, volume or accent. You might even have an associated feeling or image of the “person” giving the self-talk.

When you are in self-talk mode a way of reducing the impact of the self-talk, before you start modifying it, is to change the voice.

A bit like it was popular to do with satellite navigation systems for a while, with celebrity voices or cartoon characters. The idea is the same here, change the voice to one that is amusing or has less impact on you emotionally, when it is self-talk that does not help you or holds you back.

You can change the tone, the volume or other aspects, whatever works for you to dilute the impact. We tend to take less notice of higher pitch voices, so perhaps choose a cartoon character, as these often have high pitched voices. Choosing a voice like Minnie or Micky mouse for example. Think of the voice as a character you cannot take seriously.

What character voice are you going to choose, so you start to take less notice of your unhelpful self-talk?

Remember it’s your voice, in your mind - so you can change it however you want. The first step is just being aware which negative talk you want to change and then deciding on a suitable voice that you cannot take seriously any more

Simple, quick and effective. Try it.

Hack 3# Detaching from your self-talk voice

Where is the voice?

When your self-talk is taking place, consider where you are hearing it from? What is the point of origin?

Many, not all people, hear it from within their heads. Some hear it from outside, perhaps the devil on your shoulder. Just be aware and consider where it is? It might be in a different place for different self-talk.

You have two options to reduce the impact of unwanted self-talk.

Wherever the voice is coming from, move it. Imagine it is on a tether fixed to its current position and move the voice further and further away from you, outside your head, so it has less impact on you. The further away it is, the quieter the voice. It’s your voice, you can change it however you want. After consistently doing this for a few days, the impact of the previously damaging self-talk will drop, even more so after a couple of weeks.

If you want to reduce the impact of the self-talk further, imagine cutting the tether that holds it to its starting position and watch it float away like a balloon filled with Helium. Just watch it float away.

You might think this is strange, but the part of the brain self-talk comes from, used images and emotions as it main language of communication. So simply using imagery will change the emotion you feel. Give it a go, it does work.

Hack 4# Move away from absolute words like “always”

Change your words

Start noticing absolute words in your self-talk and spoken word, words that assume 100% of something is affected, such as,

  Always, every, never, all, none, only,

  everyone, entire, everything, impossible

These words assume there is no hope, or possibility. These words cut off change or improvement.

Watch out for these words, as it is seldom accurate and factual to use them. For example, “everyone hates me”. If you examine this it is highly improbable this is true, however you interpret everyone i.e., everyone at work, at home, in your social circle, people you have never met etc.

Start noticing these destructive, seldom accurate words, challenge and change them in both your self-talk and spoken words. Substitute words could be,

 Sometimes, occasionally, seldom, a few, some,

from time to time, possible, maybe, now and then

So what?

There you have it. Four very simple, quick to do hacks to change your self-talk. Key takeaways,

  • Self-talk is incessant and impacts our lives

  • We all have brain chatter or self-talk; it shows up in different ways for us all

  • Start being aware of the most damaging self-talk

  • Start by using one hack, keep using it till you feel the benefit, then choose another one

  • Self-talk is a habit, habits go about unnoticed - now you know what to start to look for.



Quick recap.

  • Hack 1# Two powerful words that introduce possibility - “yet” & “up until now”

  • Hack 2# Change your self-talk voice - who said that!

  • Hack 3# Detaching from your self-talk voice

  • Hack 4# Move away from absolute words like “always”

See you next week. If you haven't already, follow me on LinkedIn and hit the bell for daily posts on tips, insights and techniques.

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Happy habits – simple habits to make you feel happier everyday.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, really hope this helped. Contact me if you think I can help you further at [email protected].

Happy thinking.