Simon’s Self-Talk Superpower

Hardship needs no introduction. It’s all around us and mentioned daily on every news outlet and social media platform.

This series of articles is not about hardship. It’s about you.

Our newsletter Weathering the Storm is a source of curated tips and strategies to help you weather the emotional storm. This newsletter is inspired by actual clients* and written by experienced psychologists.

*All client names are fictional and presenting issues are composites of client experiences.

Meet Simon*

Since his mother got into an accident earlier this year, Simon’s made it a point to reach out to those he cares about more than usual :  He calls his parents daily, chats with friends and Facetimes with his grandparents whenever possible.

Despite them all being in good health, Simon – much like his friend Sarah  – is overly anxious and can’t stop thinking about worst case scenarios like “What if something happens to my loved one(s) gets sick and I lose them?’’

If you, like Simon, feel this way, rest assured that many methods exist to positively alter how we think about things, to ultimately help dial down the unhelpful emotions.

Today, we’ll look at “The Double Standard Approach”.

Our recommendation

The Double Standard Approach is based on the idea that our emotions  are shaped by our inner dialogue. Inner dialogue, or self talk, is another word for “our thoughts” — the constant commentary we keep about different situations.

When our self-talk is made up of distressing thoughts, it  amplifies our negative emotions related to a specific situation.

Let’s take Simon for example. In light of the unexpected accident his mother experienced, he keeps asking himself  “What if something happens to someone I love?’’. This self-talk amplifies his feelings of worry and stress.

Now what if one of Simon’s friends came to him with the same distressing thought. For example, if a friend told Simon she was worried about her sister was going to get into a car accident, how would he respond ?

Much like you and I, Simon would quickly offer a  compassionate and realistic reply to reassure his friend or loved one. Maybe something like: “Your sister is a good driver and follows the law, but even if she did, she has access to health care and the odds are she would be okay”.

Enter the double-standard approach:  you would never talk to a dear friend in the distressing way you sometimes talk to yourself!

What if next time Simon caught himself thinking about worst-case scenarios he stopped… Paused …. And thought to himself “What would I tell a friend -or anyone I love – if they were facing this exact same situation?”. 

Simply put, we must show ourselves the same empathy, compassion and positivity we offer others and suddenly, self-talk transforms from harmful to helpful — a true superpower!

For more tips, visit our blog here.

We welcome you to leave comments as well as questions in the discussion section so we can try to answer some of them in upcoming posts.


About us

PsyMontreal is a network of licensed psychologists, psychotherapists and therapists offering psychotherapy services in-person, by phone and via videoconferencing.

To schedule an appointment, contact us at 514-337-2473 ext. 0. We’re available 24/7 to answer your calls.