Coaching Corner: Positive Self Talk

Positive self talk
Written By Rdap Dan

Positive Self Talk: Words Matter

Words carry a lot of weight and possess power to help, inspire, belittle or destroy. When you think about the words you say, you probably think of things you speak aloud. But the words you say internally pack a powerful punch, and can elevate you or tear you down. Positive self talk is about choosing a positive conversation inside your head.

Every day you have multiple conversations inside your own head. You might be unaware of it, but it’s true. How you speak to yourself internally heavily impacts how you feel and act. It can also feed good outcomes or draw bad ones.


Ruminating involves replaying a negative situation over and over in your head. It’s different from thinking a problem through, which can be helpful to do. When you ruminate, you fixate on the wrong done to you, or the negative thing and you wallow in the anger and bad feelings of it all. Rumination enlarges small issues to big deals and often leaves you wishing you’d done this or said that.

Rumination is the opposite of positive internal dialogue and it can lead to anxiety or depression. You need to be especially mindful about not falling into this pattern of thinking when you have a lot of time on your hands, such as when serving a prison sentence.

Negative thinking grows from itself

Think about this example:

Initial thought: I have zero willpower.

Then: That’s why I’m fat and drink too much.

And: Anyone can see I’ll never have the willpower to amount to anything. I might as well give up now because I’ll only fail again.

In that example, what began as one negative thought quickly spiraled into something bigger and more self-defeating. The great news about that is that the same can happen with positive self-talk. It takes work because we’re so used to doing it the opposite way, gravitating to the negative.

Positive Self-Talk

Instead of allowing your internal dialogue to be taken over by rumination and negativity, develop positive self-talk habits. Positive self-talk is a skill you get better at with practice, so expect it to feel awkward at first. Instead of using first person terms like “I” or “me”, use third person terms like “he” or “she”. This helps you step back and observe situations with less emotional bias and, perhaps, more compassion for yourself. It may help to speak to yourself internally the way you would speak to someone other than yourself. We often show more compassion toward others than we do to ourselves. When facing a stressful situation, ask yourself, what would a mother or a sage advisor say to me in this situation. Then, give yourself the same internal advice.

Before you begin

Take a couple days and really pay attention to how you speak to yourself internally. Do you jump to conclusions, assuming you know the intentions of others? Do you tell yourself that you’re too much or not enough? Watch out for belittling yourself or discouraging yourself from taking chances in a positive direction. Become aware of all the ways you speak down to yourself inside your own head. This awareness helps show you where you need to begin with positive self talk.

Part of our style of prison coaching rests around mindset. We believe in the power of your mind. If you’d like to talk about leveraging your mind to create a more positive outcome, give me a call today at 866-208-8997

Dan Wise Federal Prison Consultant

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