Say WHAT?!

#3 – Verbal Adjustments

Does this sample self-talk sound familiar?

Sample Self Talk

“I have to go to an offsite meeting tomorrow.”

“What if I get stuck in traffic?”

“Then I’ll be late.  Of course I’ll be late.  I’m always late.”

“I feel dizzy.  Why is this happening?  What if it gets worse?”

“I should wear my blue dress tomorrow.  Wait, is that at the dry cleaners?  I should have taken it there last week so I had it for tomorrow.  What an idiot I am.”

“Now my heart is racing.  Am I having a heart attack?  Or what if I am going crazy?”

“What if I lose my job for being late?  I’ll never find another job.  Who would hire me?”

“I should go to the gym.  I probably wouldn’t fit into that dress anyway.”

“I don’t know why I even bother.  I am too fat, too old and clearly stupid.”


The good news is that, once you catch yourself using this negative self-talk, you can challenge its validity and change it to something more productive. Something that doesn’t cut you down. For example, not getting to the dry cleaners may indicate that you are overscheduled (or even disorganized) but it does not make you an idiot.

Fact: Doing something idiotic does NOT make you an idiot.

Be honest. Does cutting yourself down feel productive? What if (LOL) you cut yourself some slack? What if you heard someone you admire saying these things about themselves? You would challenge them, right?

Is That How You’d Treat a Friend? Of course not:

Them: “I screwed up. I’m so stupid.”
You: “What?! No. You just made a mistake. That doesn’t make you stupid.”
Them: “But I’m always screwing up. My house is a disaster. I have 12 loads of dirty laundry. I never cook for my family. I’m a terrible mother.”
You: “That’s not true. You’re a great mom. You’ve just been really busy lately. If I had to keep your schedule, I’d be exhausted. I don’t know how you do it. Take some time for yourself. Think about all the good you do. We all make mistakes sometimes.”
Them: “Sigh, you’re right. I’m so hard on myself sometimes. Thanks for talking me down from the tree.”

How great will it be when you can talk yourself down from your own tree?


Maybe you don’t engage in negative self-talk all the time.  Perhaps you often feel like a fairly capable human being.  But then, when you are tired or stressed, you get really down on yourself and others.  And, unfortunately, once it’s out there, even though you may regret having said it, you can’t erase it.

In the next section, I will show how negative self-talk, along with labels, may be impeding your progress towards stopping panic attacks.

Say the word and you’ll be free1,

1“The Word”, The Beatles