Ever notice how much you talk with yourself? There is nothing wrong with self talk; we all do it. However, have you ever considered how often the talk is negative?

There is no better way to ensure an ample supply of pain in your life than the destructive habit of self talk. This internal commentary can profoundly affect your self-esteem.

Unreasonable expectations and negative self talk can make your life completely miserable. For example, how often have you heard yourself say something like, "I failed that exam. How could I be so stupid?" Or, "I really blew that interview. I guess I'll never learn."

You-as many of us do-have a long list of similar situations. Negative self-talk like this is commonplace for many of us. And while there is nothing wrong with the first statements, which are just simple facts, the second statements-the judgmental jabs-keep us miserable. They reinforce the negative and lower our self esteem.

What if we get rid of the judgments and substitute something more positive? For example, "I failed that exam. I’ll study harder the next time and really do well." Or, "I really blew that interview. That is not like me. Next time, I will handle it differently." Then define in your mind how that might be.

Do you recognize the difference in these statements and their impact? The first way involves being judgmental and blaming yourself. The second route acknowledges that your behavior could stand to change, but also involves recognizing your competence and stating your intention for the future.

Instead of judging by negative self talk, allow yourself to make mistakes without making a big deal over it. Remember, your life is a journey. Every situation is a learning opportunity that can be used for destructive behavior or for personal growth. Choose the latter.

Positive self-talk can be a powerful ally, but, as usual, it necessitates us learning a different behavior. For the next few days, focus on your self-talk. When you notice negative self-talk, immediately come up with a positive alternative. It’s also helpful to practice positive affirmations. Place positive notes around your workplace. Stand in front of a mirror and enforce messages such as “I feel great”; “I am going to do very well on this exam”; “I am going to succeed in this interview”; “I am a winner”; or “I can do anything I put my mind to.”

By engaging in positive self talk, your outlook and attitude will begin to change. Instead of saying you can’t, your self talk and new attitude will say that you can. Change the focus of your self talk to the positive. Give yourself a constructive goal to shoot for. Your self esteem will grow as a result, not to mention your effectiveness.