fruit and veg

The power of self-talk

An interesting challenge which some of our volunteers have faced this week is the danger of self-talk. The way we rationalise our behaviours and then apply judgement. Our internal dialogue is powerful, but most of us aren’t even aware that its going on.


Take a moment and have a think about who your biggest critic has been throughout your life…One of your parents? Your boss? Maybe your best friend? I’m willing to bet that for most of you, whether you know it or not, your biggest critic is yourself.

“It’s my fault that things have gone wrong this month”

“I can’t do anything right”

“I should be thinner”

“I should, I should, I should…”

Now I’m not saying that we should never question our actions or thoughts. being critical can allow us to grow and achieve our goals, but it can also keep us paralysed if we don’t apply it constructively. Two common but negative thought patterns which can be applied to all avenues of life and specifically the areas of diet and weight loss are:

– Catastrophising: viewing a situation as worse than it is AND/OR applying one situation to every situation.

– Should: any phrase which starts “I should…” is based on a comparison with another person or situation and generally implies that you feel inferior in comparison.

These thought patterns lock us into a negative spiral so making long term positive changes can be difficult.

Most of us are motivated to make a change to our diet because we compare ourselves to somebody else. Social media is full of un-attainable images and messages which lead us to believe we should be better, so we are rarely satisfied. This mixed with the deprivation of a diet, is not a sustainable place to put ourselves!

Tips to change your mindset

-Turn your ‘should’ into ‘could’. The word should implies that you feel obliged to do something. Could implies a choice. When your self-talk contains ‘should’, re-run the sentence but replace it with ‘could’.

-Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being present in a situation without being judgemental. This allows you to see a situation for what it really is, and recognise that thoughts are transient, they come and go.

-Be compassionate. Next time you are being negative to yourself, ask, would I talk to my friend that way? If not, it’s time for a change. The following sentence from one of our participants is a perfect alternative.

“Listen, you’re doing okay, you have a fair few things on your plate, you’re doing the best you can, and anyway whose keeping score?” 

Health improvement and nutrition is more than just the food, it’s a whole mindset issue. Before you can make long term change your mindset has to be right, and your intentions must be good.

If you want help breaking out of this negative mindset then at Courtyard we have plenty of services which can help. If you think that you would benefit from addressing your thoughts and motivations around food and diet then call Reception on 01453 548119, or send an email to to see how we can work together to achieve your goals.