“Speak to yourself the way you’d speak to a close friend” is a sage piece of advice that’s easier said than done. Most of us are pretty hard on ourselves and wouldn’t dream of speaking to a friend, relative, or even a random person the way we speak to ourselves. Our internal dialogue tends to be harsh, often negative, and many of us struggle to be just a little bit kinder to ourselves.
How you speak to yourself — your self-talk — has the power to change your life. If you can speak to yourself in a kinder way, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Here are some books to help you on this journey.
For a slightly more in-depth view of self-talk and internal dialogue, Helmstetter's book is packed with practical tips for changing that internal narrative. Helmstetter’s research into self-talk has been written about for more than 40 years, and he’s considered one of the early pioneers on the topic. After getting a PhD in motivational psychology in the early 1970s, he dedicated his life to researching and helping others understand how our internal chatter affects every area of our lives.
If you believe in the general concept of positive selftalk, this book will help make it a daily habit. The daily affirmations, messages, and exercises help keep you focused on your internal dialogue. Reading it every morning (or whenever fits into your regular routine) is the reminder you need to stay on track to develop the habit of being kinder to yourself.
This workbook is ideal for those who want to immediately apply Sanderson’s lessons and cement them in your brain. It’s a reflection journal that helps give you tangible tools to apply the mental strategies Sanderson mentions into the real world. Taking matters into your own hands (literally, with a pen and paper) will help clarify your thoughts.
Sometimes, books designed for children can actually enlighten adults, too. That’s definitely the case here. Meredith paints a clear picture to show how self-talk can negatively or positively impact our lives, especially when it comes to anxiety. The visualization exercise of linking a ‘monster’ to every negative thought can help you externalize the negative thoughts as something outside of you — and help you learn to ignore them as a result.
How to Be Fine: What We Learned by Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer
Prefer getting your self-help in a funny memoir format? (Us, too.) How to Be Fine is the often hilarious, but also shockingly helpful and insightful, memoir co-written by the hosts of the By the Book podcast. They chronicle their journeys in self-help, and while improving their self-talk is only part of their story, it’s interesting to see what a big change it makes. From positive self-talk to meditation to even clearing out clutter, this book is a fun read that makes you think about all the ways you can improve your life.
Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs That Hold You Back from Living A Better Life by Gabrielle Bernstein
For many of us, our self-talk comes from a place of judgment: We’re not good enough, smart enough, brave enough, strong enough — you might be familiar with this line of thinking. Bernstein offers a six-step program to let those beliefs go. You’ll learn to release lingering resentments (for yourself and others), and how to stop comparing yourself to others, which is one of the major drivers for negative self-talk. Skeptics should know this book presses pretty hard into the spiritual side of self-talk instead of a more science-based, cut-and-dry approach.
Negative self-talk is rooted in one major proposition that most of us still believe deep down: That we should be perfect. This idea, Brown argues, is the reason why no matter how much we achieve, we still believe we’re not enough. Instead of constantly feeling like we need to be more or accomplish more, what if we actually were able to embrace imperfections, and come to a place of self-acceptance? This New York Times bestseller has been changing lives for over a decade, and while it’s not the shortest book on the list, you’ll have a hard time putting it down.
The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion by Simon Marshall PhD and Lesley Paterson
This book from an athlete’s perspective uses the lens of personal performance rather than personal growth. Sports psychology is ultimately traditional psychology shifted to the mindset of a performance-focused athlete. After all, what’s a work project if not a finish line you’re hoping to cross? This book makes practicing self-talk and engaging in other stress-relieving exercises a little more palatable.
Simply put, your brain has no idea how to stop ruminating. Even when you’re trying to relax, there’s that nagging voice in the back of your mind telling you there are chores, work, emails, problems, or any other life annoyances that are still present in the background. While of course, you can’t ignore work deadlines or household chores, they shouldn’t be intruding on your thoughts every waking moment. Selby argues we need to let go of overthinking and make space for accomplishing so much more.
Chatter — that annoying voice in our head we have so much trouble quieting, whether it’s negative self-talk or just a constant stream of over-thinking — can be incredibly difficult to deal with. This summary is a fast read that hits the high points of Kross’s latest book. He shares critical tools — like changing the way you talk to yourself from first person to second (you) or third (your name) — that can help you master that annoying inner chatterbox to let you be more focused, calm, and positive.