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Self-talk matters, but what methods of building healthy self-talk actually work? This how-to guide shares evidence-based techniques to go from being your own worst critic to your own best friend.
Perhaps you want to be nicer to yourself but don’t really know how to get there. Or maybe you’re someone who assumes self-criticism is a permanent part of your personality. Rest assured you’re not alone—millions of people struggle with the toll that excessive self-criticism takes on their minds, energy levels, jobs, and relationships. And problems with self-talk vary dramatically from one person to the next: they can appear as mild but persistent inner criticism, full-blown self-loathing, or the pain of internalized oppression or abuse.
After over twenty years of working with individuals, groups, and classes on self-criticism and related challenges, psychologist and mindfulness teacher Dr. Rachel Goldsmith Turow offers the “self-talk workout”—six doable exercises that can help you replace self-criticism with self-kindness and self-encouragement. Specific self-talk strategies such as “Spot the success,” “Fail forward,” and “Allowing all feelings, skillfully,” require just a few minutes a day. These skills can be practiced individually to transform your self-talk, or you can choose to combine two or more exercises to enhance your self-talk workout. Each chapter features a core exercise, variations on the strategy that might feel right for you, scientific studies supporting each approach, and success stories to inspire your own practice.
Turow includes examples from her own life and experiences as a psychotherapist, as well as lessons from her students and respected public figures such as Michelle Obama and Thich Nhat Hanh, to show that the burden of harsh self-criticism need not go on forever: the way that we relate to ourselves can be changed.
About the Author
DR. RACHEL GOLDSMITH TUROW is a psychotherapist in private practice, a research scientist, and an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She has trained hundreds of individuals to use mindfulness, self-compassion, and cognitive behavioral skills to transform their self-criticism into self-encouragement and to cultivate resilience. She is the author of Mindfulness Skills for Trauma and PTSD: Practices for Recovery and Resilience as well as over thirty articles and book chapters, and she is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences. Her website is rachelturow.com.
“Rachel Turow offers simple, transformative exercises that you will return to again and again.”—Tara Brach, author of Trusting the Gold
“The Self-Talk Workout describes clear science-based pathways to cultivate self-compassion. This is a great resource for anyone looking for new sources of hope and friendliness.”—Shauna Shapiro, author of Good Morning, I Love You: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity, and Joy
“Here you will find skillful ways to quiet the mind and open the heart. This is good medicine.”—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“If you have ever asked yourself ‘Am I good enough?’ or thought ‘I should be nicer to myself,’ then you will want to read The Self-Talk Workout. Rachel Turow has experienced and researched the effects of self-criticism, and her book is written with compassion and a basis in science.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Change
“Given the prominence of our inner voice in the economy of our mental life, it is very fortunate that we can turn to Dr. Turow’s wise and compassionate guidance. Some words simply jump off the page and you can taste the relief contained in these practices. Dr. Turow demonstrates that our inner life is more malleable than we assume, and even a little more freedom around our self-talk can make an enormous difference in our lives.”—Matthew Brensilver, author of Teaching Mindfulness to Empower Adolescents
“In The Self-Talk Workout, Rachel Turow provides an accessible, sustainable, and scientifically-backed process to understand and to skillfully work with the voice within that causes us so much suffering. Turow’s comprehensive examination of the origins and impact of self-talk on the many aspects of our lives—personally, socially, and globally—behooves us to take action with wisdom and compassion for the benefit of ourselves and all beings. And Rachel is a phenomenal writer—clear and easy to follow.”—La Sarmiento, guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ Sanghas
“Recommended for anyone needing techniques to pacify their inner critic.”—Library Journal