THRIVE resource – self talk

22 Jun 2023
THRIVE self talk 1.jpeg

Written by Andrew Thompson for, and on behalf, of Animal Industries Resource Centre and Crampton Consulting Group, and submitted by our THRIVE Veterinary Wellness Symposium partner, Provet/Covetrus.


Self-talk is our internal monologue with our inner voice providing a running dialogue while we are conscious, but it is also present while we are unconscious. We may not give much thought to this internal narrative, but we should as it can have a significant influence on how we view ourselves and the world around us. Self-talk can be positive or negative. Having an awareness of this and our usual style of self-talk can lead us to tackle life’s challenges from a more positive head space.

According to research shows that positive self-talk can:

  • improve self-esteem, stress management and wellbeing
  • reduce any symptoms of depression, anxiety and personality disorders
  • improve your body image and can help treat people with eating disorders
  • reduce your risk of self-harm and suicide.

Negative self-talk

Negative self-talk can make us feel unhappy about ourselves and what’s going on around us. It can put a negative spin on anything – even the good things.

It’s not possible to be positive all the time. What is more important is how can we make self-talk work for ourselves in this moment?

Some examples of negative self-talk taken from are:

 “I should be doing better.”

 “Everyone thinks I’m an idiot.”

 “Everything’s crap.”

 “Nothing’s ever going to get better.”


Positive self-talk

As opposed to negative self-talk, positive self-talk can make us feel good about ourselves and the things that surround us. Simply put, it’s like having an optimistic voice in our head that always looks on the bright side of the situation.

Some examples of positive self-talk taken from are:

 “I am doing the best I can.”

 “I can totally make it through this exam.”

 “I don’t feel great right now, but things could be worse.”


What can we do to combat negative self-talk?

It’s important to realise that we’re all unique, and what works for our friend to break their negative self-talk cycle probably won’t work for us. Some common ways to break that negative self-talk cycle suggested by are:

  • Be aware of what you’re saying to yourself (often it’s negative).
  • Ask yourself – is it true? (often, it’s not).
  • Put your thoughts into perspective (so what?).
  • Then ask yourself – what is a more helpful thought?

It can take time to recognise your negative thoughts because chances are, they’ve been part of your internal narrative for some time. Remember, it can take 1-3 months to change a habit.


How can we improve our positive self-talk?

Put positive thinking at the forefront of your mind. Perhaps a good starting place is seeing the glass as being half full, rather than half empty.

Spend some time identifying your strengths. We all have at least one. If you’re stuck, reflect on what others have said about you. Accept compliments and use them to think and act in a positive way. Take that compliment and write it down and stick it to your mirror, visor in your car or the front of your journal and look at it.


Here’s an activity (with thanks to

The Imaginary Best Friend Activity

This activity has a very simple premise. It encourages people to think more deeply about the negative self-talk they engage in and whether they would use it when referring to a friend, or if a friend would use it to refer to them.

Step One

Identify when you use negative self-talk, and the phrases/words you use to talk about yourself.

Step Two

Once you have your list, reflect on each negative self-talk phrase, and ask the following questions:

  • Would a friend say or think this about me?
  • Would I say or think this about a friend?
  • What would a friend say about me instead?
  • What would I say to a friend who thought this about themselves?

Use the answers you’ve jotted down to these questions and formulate some new positive self-talk phrases.

Step Three

Keep these phrases written down on your phone, on post-it notes or in a notebook that you keep with you. When you recognise yourself reverting back to old negative self-talk habits, refer to this exercise and the positive self-talk phrases you’ve created and noted instead.



If you spend time thinking negatively about yourself, you will feel bad, which can drag you down. Or, if you’re already feeling down, it can make it more difficult to get back up.

However, if you spend your time thinking positively about yourself and the world around you, you will feel good.

Article Supplied and written by Andrew Thompson for and on behalf of Animal Industries Resource Centre and Crampton Consulting Group. With thanks to: