How To Change Your Self Talk – Part 2: Challenge! – Caroline Ferguson, Mindset Trainer

How To Change Your Self Talk – Part 2: Challenge!

By Caroline Ferguson | Self Talk


In my last post, which was part 1 of my 3-point plan to change your self talk, I wrote about the importance of tuning in to your thoughts.

Mostly I referred to the negative, self-doubting and self-critical thoughts that we all have from time to time. But it’s also enlightening to notice when the voice in your head is more helpful and realistic.

  • Perhaps you’re more accepting of yourself and others than you thought you might be?
  • Do you give yourself the benefit of the doubt?
  • Maybe you’re quite forgiving of your flaws and funny little ways?

When you notice these more helpful and constructive thoughts, focus on them and make a point of actively feeling pleased. Make a note of them, and the situation that triggered them.

Your unconscious mind will notice the extra attention you’re focusing on this kind of self talk, and the positive emotions you felt when you noticed the way you were thinking. It may well try to generate more of this kind of helpful self talk in future.

So now that you’ve learned how to tune in to your self talk, what comes next?

Part 2 of my 3-point plan to retune your inner radio is to CHALLENGE unhelpful thoughts.

By challenging long held assumptions about yourself, many of which you may have absorbed from others, you can start to unravel these false stories and get at the REAL truth.

Which is that you are a worthwhile human being, complete with strengths and weaknesses and limitless potential.

How to challenge your thoughts

When you notice that the content or tone of voice of your self talk is negative, critical, self-limiting or self-doubting, stop and ask yourself these questions:

  1. How does thinking in a self-deprecating way make me feel, emotionally?
  2. Would I speak to a child or someone I love the way I’m speaking to myself?
  3. Is the way I’m thinking in this situation constructive – for me and others?
  4. Are my thoughts an accurate, proportionate and realistic response to the situation?
  5. Is there any cast-iron evidence to support my negative or self-limiting thoughts, or are they just hunches and assumptions?
  6. How would an independent outsider view my self-limiting self talk?
  7. What’s the worst thing that could happen in this situation – and how likely is that to happen?
  8. What’s the best thing that could happen in this situation – and how can I encourage that to happen?
  9. What will be the lasting negative impact – if any – of this situation? How can I lessen that impact?
  10. What can I learn from the way I’ve been thinking?

At this point, don’t consciously try to come up with an alternative way to think in these situations (I’ll be tackling that tomorrow). You may find, though, that when you challenge your thoughts, your mind automatically proposes solutions.

What is the purpose of challenging your self talk?

Asking yourself these questions sends a clear message to your unconscious mind that habitual negative or self-damning thoughts are not constructive.

If you keep interrupting your self talk when it’s unhelpful, and challenging it, within a relatively short space of time you can start to see a change in the way you think.

Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up!

The point of this exercise is to become more self-accepting and supportive of yourself. When you realise the extent to which you’ve been getting in your own way, it’s not uncommon to start berating yourself for being self-damning.

To avoid falling into this trap, aim to challenge yourself in a curious, non-judgemental way.

  • Appreciate the effort that you’re putting in (mentioning it in your Gratitude Journal is a good place to start).
  • Congratulate yourself on your growing awareness of your self talk.
  • Tell yourself that you’re learning how to think in a new, flexible and rational way and that it may take time to get it right.

TASK: Keep tuning in to your thoughts and challenge them whenever you catch yourself falling back into the critical thinking habit. Make a note of the thoughts in your Mindset Journal. Connect with your emotions and describe how confronting negative thoughts makes you feel.

In step 3, coming soon, I’ll cover the final part of this series, which is how to think in a more constructive and helpful way. Stay tuned.

If you’ve found this post useful, please feel free to share it, and comment below on how you’re getting on with monitoring and challenging your self talk.


About the Author

Caroline is a Mindset Trainer and speaker who works with sensitive, high-potential leaders who know they were born for something more. She shows them how to beat mindset blocks and habits, such as limiting beliefs, low self worth and procrastination, that are preventing them from making a bigger impact.

  • Sarah Arrow says:

    I love the idea of interrupting my self-talk. I also thanks to Sarupa Shah, practice my L’Oreal affirmations 🙂

    • admin says:

      Sarah, when I started paying attention to my self talk, so much changed. It really is true that when you change one thing, you change everything – especially if that one thing is your mindset.

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