In my work I meet a variety of clients dealing with issues including, depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, stress management, etc. Among these many issues there is one common malady - they all talk to themselves in a negative fashion inside their minds. In psychology, we call this negative self-talk. Self-talk, simply put, is the manner in which you speak to yourself inside your own head. This negative self-talk becomes an inner critic, a chattering, harassing voice that takes great delight in making negative commentary on virtually everything you do. Unfortunately, this is a normal human phenomenon, not a sign of some form of severe mental dysfunction or disorder. Everyone does it and everyone's life is less livable because of it.

The only way to live a quality life is to begin a process of removing this negative self-talk, to quiet the inner critic. The best, and simplest, strategy I have developed for doing this is the "Best Friend Strategy." The "Best Friend Strategy" is simple to apply because it only requires that you treat yourself as you would your best friend. It is a simple philosophy of never saying anything (negative) to yourself that you wouldn't say to your best friend. By practicing this, and adhering to this philosophy, the negative self-talk is reduced rapidly and self-esteem rises proportionately.

To begin this process, I start people out by having them observe their negative self-talk for a couple of days, so that they can observe and fully appreciate just how negative their own inner conversation is within themselves. It is amazing the quality and quantity of verbal abuse we put ourselves through on a daily basis. Is it any wonder we feel stressed, depressed, self-conscious and anxious? If anyone else spoke to us in this fashion we would quickly reprimand them and let them know, in no uncertain terms, they we would not tolerate this ever again in the future. Unfortunately, we say these negative things to ourselves hundreds of times a day, and for some strange reason, think nothing of it. This must stop.
Talking to yourself with the respect, dignity, warmth and compassion you would provide a friend (or even a stranger) is the key. If a friend were at your home enjoying a beverage and accidentally spilt the drink, you would not yell at them in a booming voice that they were an idiot, a loser and the stupidest person you have ever met - but how quickly we will say these very things to ourselves in our head when we spill the drink! Why? For some strange reason, people are programmed to think of what they say out loud to others as important and what they say in their own heads as meaningless. What you say to yourself is not meaningless, it determines your mood, self-image, stress levels, anxiety and overall level of happiness. This self-talk is one of the most important things in your life because it will determine the quality of your life.

The goal of the "Best Friend Strategy" is to begin to notice how you talk to yourself, keep the inner-conversation positive and to practice respect and compassion with yourself. If you aren't going to treat yourself well, who will? Compassion is the key. You need to be more forgiving of your mistakes and more supportive of yourself during hard times. Remember that you are the only person you will ever be in a relationship with for your whole life - and begin to treat yourself as you would your best friend - because, in fact, you are your best friend. Begin to act the part today!

Author's Bio: 

Prof. Paul J. Cline is a Professional Trainer/Seminar Leader, University Professor, and local expert on Time Management and Addictions/Mental Health. Paul is owner of Advanced Training Seminars, providing seminars, consulting and coaching based in St. Petersburg, Florida (727) 204-0779. Visit our website at: - Check out our selection of FREE articles and Useful Links & Resources.