The impact of negative language on your confidence

Published by Hayley Gillard on

Your brain processes thousands of messages from many different sources every second. There is massive power in the thoughts that you have. They directly influence beliefs that you hold and affect how your brain instructs you. What messages do you feed your brain on a daily basis? I want to check in with you to find out whether the language that you’re using is helping your confidence or actually making it worse.

Thoughts and “self-talk”

I talk a lot about language and the way that our thoughts and what we’re experiencing and saying out loud does in terms of our self-belief and confidence. I’ve got plenty of tools and techniques that you can use to ensure that the thoughts that you’re having are really conducive to confidence. Check out some of my other blogs and videos on this subject if you’d like to learn more.


Here I want to talk to you specifically about the language of your thoughts; what messages feed your brain; and how those messages affect your capacity for confidence.


When I’m coaching clients, in the early days of our work together I often interrupt them to highlight phrases that they use. You might think that’s a strange thing to do, when I’m the coach and they are the client – “hang on a minute… I thought the role of the coach was to listen and ask questions!” – but this is an important step in the process to identify habitual use of language. Often this language has become so familiar and entrenched that they become quite blasé about using certain phrases about themselves. Or the phrases become so familiar that it becomes hard to notice them – so they might even be invisible.


Check in with the kind of language you use in your own brain – let’s call this your “self talk”. Are there any phrases in your self-talk that you repeatedly think—and say to yourself or to others—which use all-encompassing and powerful language such as “I always…” or “I never…”?


Here are some examples that I often come across:


I always struggle on a Monday morning.

I’m never any good at writing blogs.


I’m sure we could come up with endless examples for the “always” and “never” self-talk!


But let’s just pause and think for a moment about what those great big definitive statements are telling your brain.


When you say things like “I never” and “I always,” any possibility for change or variation is dismissed. Your brain focuses squarely on the definite statement and with no room for opportunity it won’t waste any energy on trying to problem solve that. For example, if you said something like “I never make enough sales to cover my costs,” your brain is processing that there is no wriggle room to change that status – so why should it bother trying?


This lack mentality is really common – how many of us can relate to the “I never have enough…time / money / clients / {insert your own version here!}” phrase? The problem with these all-encompassing statements and phrases is that there is absolutely no room for opportunity or development. You’re not giving your brain any possibility that things could be any different. Ever! That’s some powerful confidence-diminishing stuff right there!


How to reframe your self-talk

Reframing is one way to begin to break down the power of negative language and change your habits. Here are a few examples of how you can reframe “never” and “always” statements:


“I struggle with…”

“My current challenge is…”

“I tend to…”

“Frequently I…”


Can you see how this language allows for the possibility that things could be different?


Negative self-talk language isn’t limited to the lack mentality and sweeping statements about things that we can and can’t do, which we’ve already looked at. Many of us have developed labels that show what beliefs we hold about ourselves. Can you think of any labels that you give yourself?


I’ll share an example with you: “I’m a recovering perfectionist” might seem like it allows for positive change and acknowledge that you’re working on something that you’ve identified as a negative influence on your confidence. In reality, the way that you process speech means that your brain focuses on the subject of that statement, and “perfectionist” is the message that computes before it can apply the “recovering” bit. If I tell you not to think of a pink elephant then of course that’s what you’ll think of because you have to think about it to process this message!


It’s my job to help you to learn the tools that you need to be confident. The more you become aware of your self-talk language, the more you will start to recognise that language and stop yourself in your tracks before you say it. Even if you notice after you’ve said it, that still helps you to become conscious and decide to feed your brain more positive messages. You’re beginning the habit change process; changing your thought patterns and feeding your brain positive information. This is powerful enough to influence your brain’s deepest held beliefs, which are the driving force behind how you think and act and link directly into your governing mindset. It really is that simple, I promise! It’s absolute gold for your confidence and self-belief and you can apply it to anywhere in your life and business.



Anybody who wants to be a successful entrepreneur knows that they have to be open to work on their mindset. This is why I am in business! You can have the best website / branding / photos, etc. but if you’ve not got to grips with your own mindset and personal development – and you’re not willing to invest your time, energy or money into growth – then it can be really, REALLY difficult to succeed in business.


My work is specifically around being visible and getting comfortable being visible. It’s about building your self-acceptance to feel comfortable being visible so that you can put yourself out there no matter who you are. Your thoughts and self-talk language can make a huge difference to your mindset because of how they link to the deep beliefs you build and hold on to about yourself. So what next?


The action you can take here and now is to become aware of your own self-talk language. Try this for the rest of the day and see what comes up. Write things down if it helps you. Once you have noticed your negative self-talk then you are one step closer to being able to remember to stop yourself. Then you can move on to try some of the reframes that I’ve shared with you. All of these steps will help you to feed your brain positive information in order to help you to develop a confident mindset.

If you want more hints and tips like this I would love to invite you to come and join me in Self-Belief School. It’s a private free community on Facebook where like-minded female entrepreneurs like you are hanging out, asking questions, supporting each other. I’m in there almost every day, giving hints and tips like this.

Categories: Mindset

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