Your internal self-talk can help or hurt your success says Marsha Egan

We all struggle at times with self-confidence. A lack of confidence can keep you from reaching your goals, keep you from doing things you want to do, keep you from moving forward.

So much of self-confidence is what we say to ourselves. And conversely, so much of what gets us in the way of what we want to get out of life is also our negative self-talk.


In other words, what you think about yourself and what you say to yourself really matters in this intricate game of life.

Consider the person who is offered the opportunity to speak in public about a subject very important to them. Internal thoughts can run the gamut, for example:

  • “Oh – I could never do that – I am a horrible public speaker.”
  • “Well I’ve never done that, but I’ll give it a try.”
  • “What if I bomb? What will people think of me?”
  • “What an opportunity to practice speaking!”
  • “It is important to me – but maybe someone else can do it better.”
  • “I’ve never done this before; I’m going to find someone to coach me on this.”
  • “I almost fainted the last time I gave a speech – I would hate to faint on the stage.”
  • …and so on.

These short examples illustrate the power of how you see yourself. Your internal self-talk can help or hurt your success, plain and simple.

So, talk yourself into more self-confidence!

Self-Talk Guidelines

Here are some self-talk guidelines that can work for you:

1. Make positive statements

The first strategy is for you to think and say to yourself things in the positive. In other words, make statements about what TO do rather than statements about what NOT to do, statements about who you are rather than who you are not, statements with a positive direction rather than a negative direction. An example can be “I stay cool under pressure” rather than “I don’t get upset under pressure.”

2. “I am” statements

Your self-talk is most powerful when you talk to your current self, rather than your future self. Therefore “I am” vs “I will be” statements speak to who you are right now rather than who you will be in the future.

3. Short, precise statements

By making clear and concise statements to yourself, your self-talk can be more powerful. Examples can include “I am well organized,” “I am financially stable.” And “I am nice to people.”

Self-Talk Strategies

Here are some self-talk strategies to consider:

1. Make it a habit

Self-talk affirmations sink in when you say them to yourself and hear them regularly. I like to challenge my coaching clients to find a time in their daily schedule when they do the same thing each day. As an example engaging your positive self-talk affirmations with your morning shower, your evening commute, or even while brushing your teeth can help you ingrain the words and beliefs that will become part of who you are the more you engage those thoughts.

2. Believe it

As you employ these affirmations, focus on not just thinking them or saying them to yourself, try to believe what you are telling yourself. This is easier said than done but can go a long way to boosting your self-confidence and your personal and professional success.

3. Audit what works

Not all these strategies work the same for all people. As you embark on ramping up your positive self-talk, take notice which of the strategies work best for you, and which do not. But before you give up on any of these strategies, make sure you have given them a good try.

So, let’s go back to that opportunity you were given to speak in public about one of your passions. Success has a lot to do with the six inches between your ears. That’s where it all starts. So, the more positive you are about your values and capabilities, the more confident you can feel about taking the next step.

What an opportunity to practice speaking!

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Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, a Nantucket, Massachusetts-based workplace productivity coaching firm. She is author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. She can be reached at, where you can also read her ... (Read More)

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