How to Talk to Myself (About Bipolar)

Last Updated: 5 Mar 2021

To stay on track with wellness and boost my mood, I stay away from damaging negative self-talk and have positive conversations with myself instead.

If you see me walking, driving, or even just standing around, you may notice that I’m talking to myself. This practice might seem peculiar, but I assure you that it has its rewards.

We all know (I hope!) that negative self-talk is destructive and can derail a person from staying on track with wellness, so that’s not the focus here. Instead, I want to talk about positive conversational topics. Here are six that work for me.

#1 Control

Just getting through the day can be more than a day’s work. Seemingly simple tasks I used to take for granted can now seem overwhelming. Audibly acknowledging this reality, along with possible solutions, really helps me.

Not long ago, I had a ton on my plate. Instead of getting frustrated, I decided to go for a walk, talk things through with myself, and come up with plan for handling everything. Adding structure to chaos affords me a greater sense of control.

#2 Calm

Keeping my triggers at bay is a never-ending undertaking. Before stress takes its toll, I sometimes speak to myself and purposely use words to help paint a healthier picture.

I was once standing in a checkout lane that wasn’t moving; I was growing more anxious by the minute. I started talking to myself, albeit softly, to calm down: Be patient; take time to relax. The wait won’t be as long as I think. And it wasn’t!

#3 Challenge

Many days, just getting out of bed seems impossible. Time after time, I find myself tossing and turning for what can seem like forever. Fortunately, I’ve found that moving my mouth helps me move my body.

I literally challenge myself to get up and going by a specific time. Next, I go over what I will then do to keep going. Hearing myself, especially the positive affirmations, helps me set reasonable expectations for the day.

#4 Collaborate

I once thought I could battle bipolar alone. I was wrong! Collaborating with various psychiatrists and therapists over the years has been critical to maintaining my wellness.

I’ve learned that my appointments go best when I verbalize a plan beforehand. Recently, while driving to meet with my psychiatrist, I prepared by saying to myself: I need to discuss why I’ve been significantly more depressed lately. I will ask my doctor for ideas on what changes I might make to better manage my mood. (Don’t laugh—for me, it makes a difference when I take time to talk things through and prepare my mind for positive results.)

#5 Cooperate

Let’s be honest: Dealing with bipolar can be especially tough for friends and family. In the early days, I was (unfortunately) not always cooperative. Whether I lacked awareness or was in denial—or even combative—I made life difficult for the people who cared the most.

Eventually, I learned the benefit of constructively talking to myself prior to engaging with loved ones. By putting myself in their shoes, I found I could change my perspective and try to work with them, not against them.

#6 Create

I actually started developing the outline for this piece while walking one day. Here’s what my self-talk might have sounded like:

Here I go talking to myself again…. Maybe I should compose a column about this habit of mine. My conversations typically center around maintaining control, staying calm, or challenging my thinking. Sometimes I cover how to better collaborate with my wellness team or cooperate with my support team. Occasionally, I create something concrete—and hopefully worthwhile.

And here you have the results!

Taking time to talk to myself has positively impacted my overall health and well-being. Do you want to stay on top of bipolar and not down on yourself? Perhaps it’s time to start carrying on a conversation with you-know-who!

Printed as “Mind Over Mood: Talking to Myself,” Summer 2019

About the author
Stephen Propst is a public speaker and a coach/consultant focusing on living successfully with conditions like bipolar. He was a columnist with bp Magazine for 17 years. Stephen can be reached at
  1. Having negative thinking is a regular reality for me. So, when I decide to talk to myself positively it is a paradigm shift in my reality. Thank you for the reminder and the acknowledgment that I am not by myself when it comes to the way I deal with my bipolar disorder.

  2. I am gently teased by family and co workers as I also talk to myself. It makes a huge difference on days or weeks that I am struggling. Nice to know I am not the only one!

  3. I usually tell myself it’s just a symptom, I am stronger than any struggle, I make affirmation cards for my community. Post office, grocery store, strangers to friends. Art and being creative are a coping skill for me. Plus when you do what you love you create seratonin….. Thank you for this wonderful article. God bless

  4. Thank you for your tips Stephen.

    Positive thinking, expressed either verbally or in the the thought process, translates into good feelings.

    And that’s exactly where I want to be today.

  5. Thanks for this column. It has validated something I have critizied myself about for years. I find that I have ongoing conversations (although not always positive) with myself (both mentally & verbally) almost all the time – especially verbal when I am alone.
    I’ve considered this to be an “oddity” and thought not good to do. Now, I feel much better about this habit and it’s positive benefits!

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