The Big 4 - Self-talk

Booster Progress

What we say to ourselves (self-talk)
can make the difference between
success and failure.

Just because
we think something,
doesn’t mean it is true.

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Self-talk can be rigid, inflexible conversations about ourselves, our life and the people in it. This will increase stress. 

Negative thoughts can actually change our brain chemistry

Messages like “I can’t do this” or “I am going to fail”
increase stress and arousal levels.

The hard part about challenging
negative self-talk is that
it always feels true.

With practice you can learn to notice your own negative self-talk and change it to more realistic and helpful thoughts.

Consider the following Thinking Traps and suggested remedies:


You take a single negative experience and expect it to forever be true. We often use such words as “always” or “never”. Because something happened once or a few times, you assume it will happen over and over again.

Remedy: The key to challenging overgeneralizing is to consider the evidence and quantify it. How many times has this actually occurred?

Mind Reading

You believe you know what others are thinking, failing to consider other, more likely possibilities. ​

Remedy: The key to challenging mind reading is to check it out; ask the person directly if your interpretation is correct.


You hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control.

Remedy: Consider all of the evidence. Carefully evaluate situations to really determine what, if any responsibility you have over the outcome. Don't place unnecessary blame on yourself for the actions and responsibilities of others.


You have precise, fixed ideas/rules of how you or others should behave and overestimate when these expectations are not met. These rules are right and indisputable, and any deviation from your particular values or standards is bad. You often use words like “should” or “must”.

Remedy: Have flexible rules; remind yourself that values are personal. Are your expectations realistic? The phrase “I should” is often used when “I wish” or “I would like” is more accurate.


You predict the future negatively without considering other more likely options. Catastrophic thoughts often start with the words “What if?”​

Remedy: The key to challenging this type of negative thought is to consider the evidence and ask yourself: “What are the odds that this will actually occur?”

Black and White Thinking​

This occurs when you do not see the shades of grey between the extremes. ​

Remedy: The key to challenging this thinking error is to think in shades of grey. Remind yourself that things are usually somewhere between 0 and 100 percent.