Self talk is a concept used in various therapies to explore the way in which our internal monologue shapes who we feel ourself to be - or more specifically - our external behaviours and belief in our potential. For example negative self talk might be associated with low self confidence, self blame or limiting our ability to achieve our full potential. In contrast positive self talk might make it more likely that we achieve our potential and see events in a positive light.
These therapeutic approaches are as valid as any other, however from the way that I work with the mind, these concerns are already a long way down the line and by the time you are exploring the ramifications of this type of self talk, the horse has already well and truly bolted.
From my experience and understanding, the most significant type of self talk is the language that we use internally which subtly but very powerfully, creates an idea or concept of what we are not who we are.
This might sound confusing...aren't they the same thing?
In a nutshell ....nope. Haha
The former version of self talk assumes that we are a particular person, Dan, or Gemma or whoever that might be, along with the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, body and so on that are somehow 'owned' by, or which somehow 'make up' the person in question. The internal self talk - positive or negative - then further 'fleshes out' the person - literally adding extra depth or complexity to this character.
The thing is that almost every Eastern tradition at least, Buddhism, Yoga, Vedanta sees this as a huge misunderstanding. They believe that we have already made a huge error in establishing what we are. In other words, that Dan, Gemma or whoever is just an idea that we accidentally give more and more weight to.
We might compare it to a sculptor making a human model. They begin with a huge ball of clay, then, slowly adding clay here and taking it away there, by shaping it and forming details a very lifelike figure appears. Over time we might forget that ultimately the sculpture is simply the clay - we have forgotten all about the clay because we are so fascinated with the details overlaid on it.
So from my point of view, the positive and negative self talk is a bit like the details on the clay figure - just more stuff that appears to be significant but ultimately causes me to overlook the very first question - what am i underneath all of this? Because if i never understand that, then I will always feel somehow incomplete, like something is missing in the jigsaw of my life - and that is how most of us feel - like there is always a detail missing, something we cant put our finger on.
This mistaken identity is subtly reinforced by that very same internal language - 'I am thinking' 'I am seeing' 'I am sad' 'I am hungry' - but through use of language we are mistaking ourself for various objects or experiences. We are personifying thought, personifying emotions, personifying hunger. But take a step back and we clearly see that we are not those things, we are simply the knowing of those experiences.
It might be more accurate to say 'I know hunger' or 'l know thinking' but still here we are subtly placing a boundary between us as this mysterious entity and the knowing as something that this entity does.
Again that is a turn of phrase that doesn't help. Dig deeper and what you will find with enough silence and observation that really - all that I am is the knowing of experience.
You might even shorten this to simply 'I am the knowing'
Once we clearly see this and experience it - and I'm not suggesting that is going to happen quickly - all of the negative or positive self talk in the world will become totally irrelevant. We will see that we can become the greatest achiever, more wealthy, popular or whatever but it is just tinkering with the details of the created self - what is often talked about as ego in yoga, Buddhism and so on.
The ego, however doesn't really exist and never did, it was just the patterns and shapes made in the clay.