John Cowan - Self-Praising

Publish Date
Thursday, 28 September 2017, 12:21PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan

A truck spoke to me once. A sign on the back of a tanker said, “What’s getting in your way is probably you.”  It hit me. The truck didn’t, but the sign did.  You see, I talk to myself all the time. And usually my self-talk is about me:  who I am, what I am, what I think other people think about me, and so on. I know some rude people, but the person who insults me the most is that person who stares back at me from the bathroom mirror. It’s called negative self-talk, and most of us do it: we tell ourselves that we can’t do things, that we’re not good enough, that people will laugh at us. That’s what the truck was getting at: I have often failed to attempt things because my self-talk has run me down and made me afraid to try. The thing that is getting in my way is me!

Sometimes our self-talk can reassure us and talk us into taking on challenges: "Come on, let’s give it a go. It looks like fun. I’m sure I could do that."  Other times, though, self-talk is pessimistic and negative.

As well as being aware of your own self-talk – and challenging it – try to pick up what your children are saying to themselves.  If they are telling themselves things like, "I’m no good at sport", "I just know that I could never be clever enough to do that so I won’t even try", or "If I try that I might get hurt"  it could be totally robbing them of confidence.  

Your kids need another voice in their head – yours. Lend them your confidence and your opinion of them. It can make all the difference.

For more check out

About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you