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Positive Self-Talk: Teen Version



  • We mentally talk to ourselves all the time. Self-talk can be negative or positive.
  • Studies show that being positive and optimistic can affect how well you live and even how long you live.
  • You can learn to pay attention to your self-talk and change it from negative to positive.


What is positive self-talk?

We mentally talk to ourselves all the time. We give ourselves more feedback than anyone else ever could. Self-talk can be negative or positive. It can affect all parts of your life, such as health, finances, and relationships.

Negative self-talk is discouraging. Some examples of negative self-talk are:

  • "I'm dumb."
  • "I can't do it."
  • "I'm no good at this."

Positive self-talk is encouraging. This kind of self-talk helps you achieve your goals. Some examples of positive self-talk are:

  • "I can do it."
  • "I'm good enough."
  • "If I try hard, I can."

Why is self-talk important?

Self-talk is powerful. It sends the same chemical messages to your brain as actual experiences do. Your body believes your self-talk. When you tell yourself that you are not good at meeting new people, that you freeze up and look stupid, your heart beats faster, you breathe more shallowly, your stomach tightens, and you may not think clearly. This negative self-talk creates stress in your body and your mind.

Studies show that being positive and optimistic can affect how well you live and even how long you live. The health benefits of positive self-talk may include:

  • A sense of well-being and being able to deal with things
  • Less chance of catching a cold
  • Less stress
  • Better school and sports performance

How do I make my self-talk positive?

We can talk ourselves into or out of many things. You may not be aware of the things you say to yourself. The first step is to pay attention to your self-talk. To change your self-talk from negative to positive:

  • Focus on the way you want things to be. Carefully choose the words you use. Phrase your self-talk statements in the present, even if you don't completely believe them yet. For example, instead of saying that you want to be a better friend, say that you are a terrific friend.
  • When you catch yourself in a negative thought or blaming yourself for things you have no control over, ask yourself if it’s really true. Then replace it with a more positive and truer statement.
  • Ask family members and friends to point out when you make a negative statement. Then, switch to positive self-talk right away.
  • Accept setbacks and mistakes as normal. Tell yourself that you can rise above a mistake and carry on. Just because you are not perfect does not mean that you are not good enough.
  • Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Rather than complaining about what you cannot do, remind yourself of what you can do.
  • Watch out for words like always and never. Very often we make things sound worse than they are. Instead of saying that you can never stick to a diet, say that you can lose 1 pound, and that's a start.
  • Replace criticism with praise. Learn to be your own best fan. Give yourself credit for things you do well.
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2021-11-03
Last reviewed: 2021-10-28
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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