Self Talk: The Good, The Bad and the Neutral


I’ll admit, I’m always talking to myself. Most of the time it stays inside my head, but sometimes it pops out. It helps me to remember to remember what I want to accomplish and to get things done.

This is what everyday, helpful and directive self-talk sounds like:

• Check your calendar.
• Do a load of laundry.
• Wash the dishes.
• Feed the cats.
• Take your vitamins.
• Go for a walk.
• Drink some water.
• Figure out what’s for dinner.
• Check the time.

This kind of self-talk helps me to remember to take care of myself and my family. The tone is always directive and neutral. It helps me to remember day to day tasks.

Then there’s some self-talk that is more hurtful than helpful. This is negative self-talk and it tends to replay over and over again in our heads. It has an accusatory and unforgiving tone. It sounds a lot like my mother when she was really angry at me.

This kind of self-talk opens the door to overwhelm.

This is what it sounds like:

• How did I forget that again?
• How did I lose that piece of paper?
• My house is a mess and I’m a slob.
• Why can’t I stay organized?
• I should be doing my work.
• It’s just a matter of time before they fire me.
• I screwed up again.

Then there is positive self-talk. It has a friendly, optimistic and encouraging tone.

This is what it sounds like:

• I did I great job on the dishes and it didn’t take so long.
• The house looks good.
• I’m really good at some things and not so great at other things.
• I have people in my life that love and support me.
• I’m moving towards my goals.

Everybody’s self-talk is a little different but I’m guessing we share common themes.
When you have ADHD you have a jumble of thoughts to sort out. Try to notice what your
self-talk is saying to you and raise the volume on the positive, lower the volume on the negative and use the neutral to get you through the day.

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach in Brooklyn, NY. She helps teens, college students and adults with ADHD with time management, planning and prioritizing, getting started with and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and improving social skills. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in downtown Brooklyn. For more information visit her website: or email Kathy at

3 thoughts on “Self Talk: The Good, The Bad and the Neutral

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s