Did you know that you are talking to yourself all the time? It’s just that no one can hear what you are saying because you aren’t doing it out loud. We all say things to ourselves in our heads (aka self-talk or thoughts).

In fact, we are all constantly giving ourselves messages about:

  • What we look like
  • What others think about us
  • Whether we are good or no good
  • Whether we are smart or dumb
  • Whether we will succeed or screw up
  • Whether we will manage or lose it again
  • And so on and so on and so on

But did you know that what we say to ourselves and how often we say these things can really affect our mood, our happiness, our behaviour, our relationships, our confidence, and our success? It can also affect how we act in the future.

  • So, what are you saying to yourself about you?
  • Is it kind? Is it encouraging? Is it positive? Or is it mean? Discouraging? Negative?
  • How do you treat you?
  • Are you kind like a friend or are you mean like an enemy?
  • Is what you are saying and doing helping you or is it getting in your way?

Everybody sometimes says unkind, discouraging, and negative things to themselves. That’s normal. But if that is the kinda stuff you mostly or always say to yourself, that is a problem.

But things can change: you can practice being kind to yourself

Saying and doing kind things for yourself can become a new habit. Even if you don’t believe it at first, kind, encouraging, and positive self-talk and actions will eventually begin to feel true. And don’t worry that saying positive things about yourself to yourself is bragging. Sometimes we need to go a bit overboard being positive to shake us out of our habit of being unkind.

Here are some ideas to help you get in the habit of saying and doing kind things to and for yourself:

Write kind messages on post-it notes (or a piece of paper)

  • Stick them up or put them where you can see them (e.g., on your mirror, in your room, on your dresser).
  • Read them to yourself at least once a day.
  • Make a mental note of a couple of your favourites and practice saying those to yourself 5 different times during the day.

Start a “What I like or what is good about me list”

  • It can include your personality traits, awesome things you have done, things you are good at, how you look, etc. Keep adding to it.
  • If you are having a hard time, maybe get other people to help you by having them share positives about you.

Try to notice and catch yourself when you may be being unkind to yourself

  • Believe it or not, we may not even realize that we are saying something mean or rude or negative.
  • Sometimes it helps to pay attention to our feelings. If you are feeling sad, irritable, moody, or negative stop and think about whether any negative self-talk may be happening and try to change up the message.

Do things you enjoy

  • Go for a walk, play a sport, sing, dance, watch your favourite show, cook or bake.

Do something simple but nice for yourself

  • Have a bubble bath, listen to your favourite music, pet your dog, go for a bike ride, draw.

As a family, have everybody take a turn saying something nice to every other person in the family

  • Maybe you could do this during a meal.

Say or do something kind for someone else

  • Tell your parent or caregiver you love them, help your sibling, give a friend a compliment, do a chore, play a game with your sibling, call your grandparent to say hello.

Try not to be an “all or nothing thinker

  • If and when you make a mistake, acknowledge what you have done, make things right, and then move on and do better the next time. Don’t decide you are either all bad or all good. Everyone is a mixture of both.

It’s up to you!