Use your zest cues when you want to be more activated, energised and enthusiastic in work and play.

​> I am excited
> I am buzzing
> I am bubbling
> I am bursting with energy

Boost Your Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem 

Replace negative self-talk and low self-esteem with…

​> I'm not good enough

> I can't do it

> I'm rubbish

> I must be perfect​​

> I'm not worthy

​> I'm of no value

> I'm not important

> I must not make a mistake

​> I'll never be any good

​> Nobody loves me

  • Focus on the task at hand
  • Stay focused on the process
  • Focus on your positive thoughts, traits and emotions
  • Control your thoughts, think of all the positives and there will be less headspace for the negatives

Focus on what you're good at


                                     OPENESS TO EXPERIENCE          

To show you how you might apply your positive self-talk we will look at the classic example of someone ‘failing’ an exam. If the outcome of an exam (or any task, project, or relationship) is not as expected this can be the source of a lot of negative voices which may be very distressing for the individual.

1.  Pay attention to what you are saying and feeling

First, the person needs to notice what they are saying to themselves and the consequent feelings of low self-esteem and uncertainty this may be causing. Examples include:

X    ‘I’m useless’
X    ‘I’ll never pass that exam’
X    ‘I can’t do it’
X    ‘I’ll never be any good at anything’

A lot of the time a bad result or negative situation can spark unwanted self-talk and feelings which the person is not fully aware of. As he or she continues to berate themselves, this way of thinking becomes a habit and the person ends up being stuck in a ‘mental rut’.

2. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts of confidence and high self-esteem

Second, the person needs to ‘change the script’ and respond with positive thoughts like:

>    ‘I am confident, I can pass this exam’
>    ‘This is a good opportunity to get an even better result’
>    ‘Failing this time doesn’t define who I am’
>    ‘I am smart, I am skilled, I am good at what I do’

As you apply your new positive spirit remember to:

->  Say it like you mean it
->  Keep it short and sweet

->  Practise Practise Practise

  • New experiences, learning and adventures broaden my horizons 
  • Staying interested about all the different aspects of my favourite topics will improve my knowledge and understanding 
  • I am eager to try new activities, methods and designs that are different from the norm
  • I like to explore subjects and discover different ways of doing things 

2. DETERMINATION       PERSISTENCE / PERSEVERANCE / GRIT /                                                  DRIVE / ASSERTIVE / TENACITY


4. CONFIDENCE              OPTIMISM  / HOPE / BELIEF / FAITH / TRUST /                                             SURE / EXPECTANT

  • Stay calm and composed
  • Nothing fazes you
  • Nothing affects you
  • Nothing frightens you
  • Empower yourself with determination
  • Attack your challenges with a determined smile on your face
  • No excuses, losers make excuses, winners make it happen
  • Whatever it takes I will finish what I started

This article takes an in-depth look at positive self-talk for the key character strengths. Written in conjunction with a study of ‘Character Strengths and Traits’ carried out by 55 distinguished social scientists, available at 

The study identifies 24 Character Strengths which we all possess to a greater or lesser degree. They are universal across all aspects of life including work, school, sport, family, friends, and community. Some examples of these traits are kindness, perseverance, hope, gratitude, teamwork, and all of them can be improved with practise.

Go to to learn more about all 24 positive traits. 

This study is based on ‘Positive Psychology’ which focuses on what’s right with you, your positive traits rather than focus on what’s wrong with you, your negative traits. If you have ten minutes to spare take a look at these two excellent videos explaining ‘Positive Psychology’ and ‘The Science of Character’:

Video 1: What Is Positive Psychology

Video 2: The Science Of Character

Positive self-talk and high self-esteem...

To finish the article is a concise and holistic approach to happiness and well-being by Dr Alan Carr, lecturer in psychology at University College Dublin. His summary can be found in his book: POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY, The Science of Happiness and Human Strengths, 2nd Edition:

The results of scientific research point to three reliable ways to find happiness:

1. Cultivate relationships that involve deep attachment and commitment.

2. Involve yourself in absorbing work and leisure activities in which you exercise your strengths, talents and interests.

3. Cultivate an optimistic, future-orientated perspective on life in which you expect the best.

1. Cultivate relationships that involve deep attachment and commitment.

Working on your relationships will improve your quality of life. People who have a close family and an active social life generally report having better levels of mental well-being. Striving to maintain a good ‘work - life’ balance will keep you mentally refreshed and improve your performance. Taking time out to develop relationships, socialise and laugh will reduce stress and help you to become a more rounded positive person.

2. Involve yourself in absorbing work and leisure activities in which you exercise your strengths, talents and interests.

To be happy, do what makes you happy! It’s essential to choose work and leisure activities that you enjoy, are passionate about and good at, these factors usually go hand in hand. Also, feeling happier and more fulfilled is often a result of doing things that are important to you, have meaning and purpose and give you a sense of achievement.

3. Cultivate an optimistic, future-orientated perspective on life in which you expect the best.

Last but not least is to have a positive outlook. The aim is to always look forward, keep thinking about the next event, keep expecting the best, stay excited about what’s ahead, the next holiday, the next weekend, the next day, the next challenge in your work life, in your personal life and above all, have fun while you’re doing it :D

The above list is just a small sample of the unlimited range of phrases and affirmations you can integrate into your daily life. You can choose one, adapt it, combine it with another, or make up your own affirmation which means more to you. Your self-talk does not have to represent a particular trait, it can be anything and everything that will help you think, feel, and act more positively.

Creating affirmations about a particular situation can help you to positively re-frame what has happened or is about to happen so that you maintain a much healthier cycle of thinking and feeling. Re-framing (finding the silver lining) or viewing situations from a different perspective can be a very effective CBT technique which can prevent you from being stuck in the same old “mental ruts”.

Use your gratitude cues when you want to be more grateful and thankful for the blessings and people that you already have in your life.

> I am fit
> I am strong
> I am healthy
> I am lucky

3. Practise Practise Practise

Focus on the Good in You

Use your curiosity cues when you want to be more engaged in different projects, subjects, and places.

> I am curious
> I am interested
> I am fascinated
> I am on an adventure


Boost Your Character Strengths 


If you watched Video 2 you will have seen the seven character strengths which have been highlighted as key to success in academia, work, school and your profession. Below I have outlined these seven traits plus two more, focus and relaxation, which I believe to be key in improving your physical and mental performance. I have expanded on each character strength with examples of positive self-talk. In addition to the character strengths below are similar words or synonyms that describe the same concept.


1. ENTHUSIASM             EXCITEMENT / ZEST / ZEAL / VITALITY /                                                      ACTIVATED / ENERGISED

2. DETERMINATION       PERSISTENCE / PERSEVERANCE / GRIT /                                                  DRIVE / ASSERTIVE / TENACITY

3. COMPOSURE              SELF-DISCIPLINE / SELF-CONTROL / SELF-                                                REGULATION / COOL / CALM

4. CONFIDENCE              OPTIMISM  / HOPE / BELIEF / FAITH / TRUST /                                             SURE / EXPECTANT

5. GRATITUDE                 THANKFUL  / APPRECIATION / FEELING                                                       BLESSED / LUCKY / FORTUNATE

6. RELAXATION               REST / RECOVER / CHILL OUT / RECHARGE /                                             TAKE IT EASY / KICK BACK

7. FOCUS                         CONCENTRATION / ATTENTION / DIRECTION                                             OF YOUR THOUGHTS / AWARENESS / 

​8. CURIOSITY                  INTEREST / NOVELTY SEEKING /         

                                          EXPLORATION / OPENESS TO EXPERIENCE


​                                          EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

  • I have a great family
  • I am fortunate to have a roof over my head
  • I have all that I need
  • I always count my blessings 

3. COMPOSURE              SELF-DISCIPLINE / SELF-CONTROL / SELF-                                               REGULATION / COOL / CALM / COLLECTED

Examples of Positive Self-Talk and Affirmations

Here are some short phrases and sentences designed to activate the key traits. You can memorise these statements, print them out, write them on a card, or give them to someone to help you think more positively. The phrases or cues can be anything that represent a particular trait or combination of traits. Also listed below are some of the most effective type of cues using ‘The Power of I AM……….’

  • I will pay more attention to what others are saying and feeling 
  • Understanding what motivates people is important  
  • I will try to find out what makes other tick
  • The more sociable I am, the more I will develop my skill of understanding others 


1. ENTHUSIASM             EXCITEMENT / ZEST / ZEAL / VITALITY /                                                      ACTIVATED / ENERGISED

Now that you have a better understanding of positive psychology and the science of character, let’s look at a number of ways in which you can develop your positive traits and virtues.

If you wish you can have a browse through the website to learn more about how you can try to exercise your character strengths. There is a free survey and some good blogs and articles on key life skills. 
Try to implement one or two of the suggested actions to help build your chosen character strength.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and positive self-talk are some of the best methods to work on your positive traits. CBT is based on the premise that if you change your thoughts, you will influence your feelings which will influence your behaviour.

 Thoughts  -> influence feelings  ->  influence behaviour

​So if you fill your mind with positive thoughts of gratitude and hope, you will become grateful and hopeful. If you fill your mind with thoughts of forgiveness and kindness you will become forgiving and kind. On the flip side if you fill your mind with negative thoughts of regret and guilt you will become regretful and guilty. If you fill your mind with thoughts of anger and anxiety you will become angry and anxious. The idea behind positive psychology is to always re-direct your focus to the positive, always focus on your character strengths. If you keep the positive tapes playing in your mind then there will be less headspace for the negative.

Below is another diagram depicting the link between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Each aspect is inter-connected and can directly influence the other. Changes in this CBT cycle can begin and end at any stage. For example, if you change your behaviour this can influence your thoughts and your feelings. Likewise a change in your feelings will influence your behaviour and your thoughts.

Use your relaxation cues when you want to be more relaxed during your down time so you can fully recover and recuperate.

> I am relaxed
> I am taking it easy
> I am doing nothing
> I am resting and recovering

Use your social intelligence cues when you want to be more socially savvy and understand others.

> I am socially intelligent
> I am capable of fitting in
> I am aware of the feelings of others
> I am empathetic

In general positive self-talk is best kept short, simple, and effective. A word, short phrase, or few sentences can be all that’s needed to activate a character strength and achieve the desired outcome. While there are many things that can inspire people to show more leadership or perseverance such as a speech or a movie these lengthy mediums are impractical amidst the daily challenges of school, work, errands, relationships etc…

All the examples of positive self-talk given below are designed to be as short, simple and effective as possible. Also self-talk is very personal and what works for one person may not work for another. The aim is to find the words that resonate with you, words that hit the ‘sweet spot’ and create a very powerful effect. Other advantages of keeping it ‘short and sweet’ include making it easier to memorise and quicker to recall in times of need.

The key to creating a positive mind-set is to always focus on the positive by continually practising your positive thoughts. Having more positive thoughts repeating in your head will reduce the amount of space for negative thinking.

Changng your way of thinking is hard work which takes lots of concentration and dedication. The more you practise, the better you will become and the more it will develop as your natural way of thinking. Positive thinking is a skill, like learning any new skill it requires repeated practise every day in order to progress and improve.

When applying your positive self-talk remind yourself often to:


  • Enthusiasm is key to success, rise up and attack the day with enthusiasm
  • Develop a habit of vigour and vitality
  • Approach situations as an exciting challenge
  • Release the past and pursue your victory with enthusiasm

Guidelines when using Positive Self-Talk and Affirmations

As you apply your affirmations there are a few guidelines that will help to make them more effective:

1. Mean it

Hope you enjoyed the article :D

Rossa Martin

Mindset & Performance Coach

When you use positive self-talk it’s important, when you say it, you mean it! If you are ‘going through the motions’ and not applying your self-talk with meaning and conviction then it will be much less effective.  It’s essential to really believe what you say to yourself and MEAN IT!  

Emphasizing what you say is ano
ther good way to describe how to apply your positive thoughts. When you emphasize something you add extra intensity (high or low) of feeling, acting, and expression. Emphasizing your levels of confidence, enthusiasm, determination and even relaxation will make these traits more powerful.

Words have creative power. Whether talking to yourself or others you can create negative thinking and feelings or positive thinking and feelings. The self-talk you use consistently throughout the day, week and month will become a habit and alter your attitude for better or worse. Use your words to help you and not hinder you, below are some guidelines for the use of your positive self-talk.

(Although this article deals specifically with words, your thoughts can be such things as an image, a sound, a physical sensation, a future vision, a memory, or just an ‘intuition’ or ‘gut instinct’ about something.)

  • According to your faith be it done unto you
  • Act confident, put your head up, chest out and shoulders back
  • Maintain a “Can Do” attitude and believe in your ability to succeed…I can do it….I can do it….I can do it….
  • Be expectant, hopeful and optimistic. Expectancy keeps a spring in your step and helps you to see a brighter future. Train your mind to expect the best and live with expectancy.
  • Relax, slow down and take it easy
  • No worries, no stress, no problems
  • Chill out, kick back and put your feet up
  • Switch off and relax physically, mentally, and emotionally
  • I have a lot to be proud of
  • My life has meaning and purpose
  • My life purpose can be whatever I choose it to be
  • I have traits, talents and strengths that are needed by my friends, family, and colleagues

2. Keep it short and sweet

5. GRATITUDE                 THANKFUL  / APPRECIATION / FEELING                                                      BLESSED / LUCKY / FORTUNATE

Use your self-regulation cues when you want to be more disciplined, composed, and in control of your urges, impulses and emotions.

> I am cool
> I am calm
> I am ice cold
> I am in total control of my impulses and emotions

Use your hope cues when you want to be more hopeful about the future, confident in your ability, and optimistic that things will work out for the better.

> I am hopeful
> I am optimistic
> I am confident
> I am a can do person




Use your focus cues when you want to be more focused on what you have to do and on your thoughts and feelings. A better awareness of what you are thinking, feeling and doing will allow you to be more pro-active about where changes need to be made to become more positive. Also it is useful to be aware of how your thoughts and feelings affect your physical sensations and consequent actions.

> I am focused
> I am paying attention
> I am mindful of my thoughts, feelings, and behaviours
> I am re-focusing on the positive

6. RELAXATION               REST / RECOVER / CHILL OUT / RECHARGE /                                            TAKE IT EASY / KICK BACK

7. FOCUS                         CONCENTRATION / ATTENTION / DIRECTION                                             OF YOUR THOUGHTS / NOTICE THOUGHTS                                               FEELINGS BEHAVIOURS SENSATIONS                                                       ENVIRONMENT / AWARENESS / MINDFUL /                                                 IDENTIFY MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL                                                           STRESSORS


                                           AWARENESS OF THE FEELINGS OF OTHERS 

What are the Benefits of Character Strengths?

Character Strengths are positive traits that we all possess. They influence how you think, feel and act and are central to your mental health and well-being.

Nurturing, cultivating and developing your character strengths are beneficial to you and those around you.

Practising your character strengths will help you in several ways:

1. Happier in work, life and play
2. Better academic performance
3. Better professional performance
4. Improved relationships
5. Better mental and physical health
6. Master your craft
7. Achieve your goals
8. Recover from set-backs
9. Increased lust for life
10.More equal society

> I am accepted
> I am good enough
> I am talented
> I am valuable

> I am important

> I am wanted

> I am unique

> I am loved

Use your perseverance cues when you want to be more persistent, determined and gritty to overcome a stubborn challenge.

> I am driven
> I am assertive
> I am persistent
> I am full of steely determination

Choose Your Affirmations