Positive Self-Talk Is Important to Build Self-Esteem

September 26, 2023 Sean Gunderson

Positive self-talk is important. The choices that we make and the experiences we have shape our ongoing growth process. This includes how we talk to ourselves. Those around us only see a small portion of who we are. However, each one of us knows ourselves best. This is because we live with ourselves every moment of our lives. The internal conversation that we have with ourselves shapes who we are and how we navigate this world. In today's post, I want to share some ideas regarding the importance of positive self-talk.

In my own life, I have gravitated toward wisdom as a pathway to cultivate positive self-talk. I engage in mindfulness practice, which inevitably involves being mindful of one's thoughts. This mindfulness can allow us to shift habitual patterns of negative self-talk. We can use our awareness to direct our thoughts in a positive direction. I see reminders of the importance of positive self-talk across human cultures. 

Wisdom to Remind Us of the Importance of Positive Self-Talk

There is a wise Native American story in which a grandfather and his grandson are in the forest. They encounter two wolves battling each other. One is a white wolf, the other a dark wolf. The white wolf represents our positive qualities, and the dark wolf represents our negative qualities.

The grandson asks his grandfather, "Which one will win?"

The grandfather tells his grandson, "Whichever one is fed more."

This wisdom story reminds us that we each have positive and negative qualities in our personality. It also reminds us that both sides of us will inevitably get our attention from time to time. The one that we give more attention to is the one that will "win." That is, it will occupy more of our subjective space than the other. 

This is where the importance of positive self-talk comes in. We each have a limited amount of time and energy. When we choose to engage in positive self-talk, we are able to "feed" that side of us so that it will grow within us. When we remind ourselves of our inherent worth, we feed this white wolf. When we nurture our strengths, recognizing that we each have a contribution to make, we feed this white wolf. When we show compassion toward ourselves, we feed this white wolf. When we engage in self-care, we feed this white wolf. 

This wisdom story also reminds us that we each have a shadow side. While that shadow side may never leave us entirely, we can keep it from sabotaging our lives by learning to feed the white wolf within us. 

Positive Self-Talk Is Important Because It Shapes Our Reality

It does not matter which culture you are from; there is a natural human recognition of the power of our own self-talk. Henry Ford once said,

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right."1

This quote reminds us of the power of the words we choose to use in our subjective space. Born of the modern Western culture, Ford emphasizes the social benefits of correctness. Oftentimes, we seek to be right because we recognize the social benefits of correctness. We can always be correct with ourselves by reminding ourselves of our inherent value, our past successes, the times that we helped others, and any other form of positive self-talk that we may feel benefits us. 

How do you engage in positive self-talk? 


  1. Strive. (2023, March 30). 35+ Henry Ford Quotes About Money & Success - The STRIVE. The STRIVE.

APA Reference
Gunderson, S. (2023, September 26). Positive Self-Talk Is Important to Build Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Sean Gunderson

Sean Gunderson (they/them) has a wealth of lived experience with mental health issues and, after publishing their thesis, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Psychiatric Survivor: Exploring the Paradigm Shift in Mental Health," became an advocate for embracing the ongoing scientific paradigm shift in the field of mental health. Find Sean on Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, and their site

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