Woman Says It's Been A 'Game Changer' Talking To Herself The Way That She Would Speak To Her Dog

Self-talk matters and neuroscience and psychology confirm that she's actually onto something.

woman with her dog kali9 / Getty Images Signature / Canva Pro

Most of us struggle with negative self-talk at one point or another, but the commonly prescribed solution — positive self-talk —often elicits eye rolls. It can't possibly be that easy to stop feeling down on ourselves, right?

But comedian Jen Butler conducted an unlikely experiment about just how effective this can be. She's approached it in the most unconventional way you can probably think of — and it's worked not just for her but for lots of people online, too.


Butler said she talks to herself the way she talks to her dog, and it's been a 'game changer.'

Now, if you rolled your eyes at the notion of "positive self-talk," you're probably groaning at the very premise of talking to yourself like you talk to your dog. But Butler said it truly works like a charm.

Butler began her experiment in September 2022. For 30 days, she started every morning by giving herself positive affirmations in the mirror, similar to how she'd show love to her dog — you know, asking herself, "Who's a good girl?" and whatnot.

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Okay, she didn't exactly take it THERE, but she did call herself things like "precious angel baby" and ask herself things like "Did you have a good sleepies?" It sounds silly — and maybe even actively unhinged — but she said that's part of the point.

Butler said when she talks to herself the way she talks to her dog, it silences her inner critic and insecurities.

Nearly two years after her experiment, Butler maintained it was a total game changer. "I highly recommend talking to yourself in the mirror with the same intensity and unhinged love we use when talking to our pets," she wrote in an Instagram post. "Insecurity and inner critic will be like 😳🫢🛌"

"If you feel ridiculous while doing it, good," Butler went on to say. "Make it bigger and more ridiculous with even more unhinged love." She said upping the ante like this also ups the benefits. "You will bypass the discomfort and land in a giant puddle of unfiltered adoration."


Back in 2022, at the end of her 30-day experiment, Butler said, "It started as a joke but ended up blowing my mind." Because she quickly noticed three positive changes.

@jenbutlersays Replying to @shan.shan.r I’ve been avoiding posting it for some reason. Thanks for the nudge. #selftalk #selfloveexperiment #mirrortalk ♬ original sound - Jen Butler

One, what she called "the volume" on her inner critic, "turned way down." Two, a more positive inner voice became a default, including her interactions with others. "This inner cheerleader would speak up on my behalf without me consciously having to do it," she said.

Finally, she found that she was able to bounce back much faster from negative experiences or feelings than she used to be. Perhaps most telling of all, after having stopped this habit at the end of her 30-day experiment, just 12 days into going back to normal, she'd already noticed the positive benefits starting to erode.


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Butler's experience wasn't a fluke. Neuroscience and psychology say positive self-talk literally changes our neural pathways.

I had a therapist who used to say, "Brains work on quantity, not quality," meaning that whatever thoughts you're having most often are the ones that become sort of embedded in your brain via neural pathways.

Psychologist Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke explained to us how this works using negative body image as an example. "If you constantly think negative thoughts, like 'I hate my body,' that neural pathway gets stronger, and those thoughts become habitual." No matter what you do, you will continue hating your body. 

But what many don't realize is that the opposite is true, too. If you switch to consistently telling yourself that you love your body, you will begin to burn new neural pathways in your brain that reinforce that new idea. This is what my therapist meant by "quantity" over "quality." Good thoughts or bad, It's the repetition that ultimately matters.


But here's the kicker — "quantity over quality" applies to time, as well. You have to stick with it because the old negative neural pathways have already been there for decades. It's like going off a hiking trail and into the wilderness: It takes lots of trampling for the new route to turn into a new trail, and if you stop, it just grows back over. 

That's why when Butler stopped her experiment, it only took days for those new, positive neural pathways to be eclipsed by the old, tried-and-true negative ones.

In the end, Butler's experiment wasn't really an experiment at all. It was a manifestation of neuroplasticity, our brain's remarkable ability to be more malleable than we would ever assume. And speaking from experience, Butler's right — it is a "game changer." It can feel downright miraculous, in fact. 


So, if you struggle with negative feelings, thoughts, and self-belief, follow Butler's lead. If you stick with it, before long, you'll actually feel like a precious angel baby, just like your dog, minus the hair shedding and drooling, hopefully.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.