I have taken a lot of self-help courses in self-talk. The courses I took were all designed to help us with our goals. They also teach active affirmations such as I am good at what I do, I can succeed, I am organized and active in my business and home life etc, etc. I have been a student of affirmations and have used them for over 30 years, sometimes successfully, sometimes ineffectively. Stuart Smalley of Saturday Night Live created humor around the practice, making thousands of people laugh with the dichotomy of his behavior/choices and the affirmation he used. Laughter is the world's best medicine and I would wager to say he helped a lot of people!!
The act of conscious self-talk is important; affirmations can work if you are using them with intention and focus. The things you say to yourself, however, in those off-guarded, unconscious moments is what is most important to pay attention to. I find myself, a practioner of conscious self-talk ambushed when faced with an emotional crisis, a wall I just cannot get over, a challenge that seems higher than Mt. Everest. In those moments, I do not always engage in positive self talk but the voice that is mightier than the Rolling Stones in a stadium concert blares away and what I REALLY believe gets exposed, in all its nakedness.
What you say to yourself in those moments is the most critical in your life. The story you tell yourself about the experience you are having will have everything to do with the action you take and the stress you put on your heart and body. That in turn will add up to mountainous consequences, over time. The voice you use when you speak to yourself will tell you so much about the voice you use with others. I have learned when faced with this dilemma (not always, this is a process) to PAY ATTENTION! Consider these moments STOP signs. STOP so you can listen to what your heart is saying. STOP so you can face the fear that is trying to pull you down and drown your enthusiasm and belief. STOP, be with the emotion; do not try to suppress it but just sit with it. Then, like you would with a child who is hurt, hold yourself tenderly and long and tell yourself the Truth...not the story you are creating between your ears. Paying attention, being conscious with your inner voice, is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. Be your own best listener, your own best friend.