Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist | Cynthia Kane | Book Summary


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Talk To Yourself like a Buddhist by Cynthia Kane


Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist: Five Mindful Practices to Silence Negative Self-Talk

Change Your Words, Change Your World

There are hundreds of books, workshops, and classes that teach us how to communicate effectively with others, but very few of us pay attention to how we speak to ourselves.

Best-selling author and communication expert Cynthia Kane believes this is a problem, and she is sounding the alarm! Kane writes that there is an unreported epidemic of negative self-talk in our culture today.

Many of us speak to ourselves in demeaning and hurtful ways, using language we would never use with anyone else. To make matters worse, we often don’t even realize when we are doing this, as these old mental tapes play in repeating loops without our awareness.

In Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist, certified mindfulness and meditation instructor Cynthia Kane introduces the Middle Path of Self-Communication, which consists of five mindful practices–Listen, Explore, Question, Release, and Balance–all of which are grounded in Buddhist principles.

This book will show you how to:

  • Identify your negative self-talk and explore the underlying self-judgments that produce it
  • Release the judgments that are poisoning your self-communication
  • Practice a system of balanced internal communication based on truth and compassion

When we speak to ourselves negatively, we set a tone for our day and our interactions with others in the world. Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist can teach you how to turn off the enemy in your mind–and create a new relationship with yourself and the world around you–simply by noticing, investigating, and changing the words you use to speak to yourself.


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What Is Negative Self-Talk and How Does It Manifest in Our Lives? Summary:

  • Much of our self-talk is full of doubt and fear
  • We talk to ourselves the whole day
  • The words we choose to talk to ourselves have very powerful effect on us and how we see the world
  • We downplay our achievements

Example of Negative Self Talks:

  • “I can’t do anything right”
  • “My nose is too big”
  • “I’m ugly and unlovable”

Negative self-talk can cause bypass events like:

  • Job loss
  • Failing a school test
  • Financial setback
  • Betrayal of friendship


We create a lot of unnecessary suffering in our life. Negative self-talk is considering a kind suffering because it promotes suffering

Ask yourself if what you are saying to yourself is TRUE? KIND? HELPFUL?

The Four Modes of Communication Summary:

  1. Thinking

Most of our negative thoughts are not true. They are judgements and opinions based on our past experiences, beliefs, cultural norms, socialization etc..

  1. Speaking Aloud

We sometimes talk negatively about ourselves to our friends and also in person.

  1. Body Language

Our body language is the product of what we are thinking or saying

  1. The Written Word

We speak rudely to ourselves when we write “to do notes”. Beware of that and write to yourself with love.

Example: ” Please remember to take out the trash Cynthia, love Cynthia.”

Remember to write or journal in a loving way as well

Judgment: The Accomplice of Negative Self-Talk

  • Whether an event is good or bad it’s based on our judgement
  • The way we judge an event is based on our upbringing, past experiences, social conditioning and basic personalities
  • Each time we tell ourselves that we are fat we felt worse than before
  • When you compare yourself with a stranger you feel worse every time if you judge the other person is better than you
  • “If only you work harder than I could had a car like that”
  • “If only I didn’t spent so much money on that vacation”
  • “I would never be able to afford a house like that”


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7 Common Expressions of Negativity:

  • Overreaction: “Everything is terrible”
  • Personalization: “Why is this happening to me?”, “it’s my fault”
  • Absolute language: “I’m a bad person”
  • Assumption: “He Thinks I’m not good enough”!
  • Expectation: “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!”
  • Comparison: “Why can’t I be like her?”
  • Regret: “If I hadn’t done that…”

Bring Compassion To your Self Communication:

  • Console yourself the way you console your best friend
  • Cheer yourself up the way you cheer your best friend
  • Tell yourself you’re doing fine
  • Stop beating yourself up
  • Self-compassion is hard because society thinks its weak
  • Love yourself no matter what

Judgment: The Accomplice of
Negative Self-Talk

  • You beat yourself up for having negative self-talk
  • “I can’t believe I’m having all this negative self-talk and I don’t realize it
  • “What’s wrong with me !!!”
  • Instead be glad that you realized you’re speaking negatively to yourself
  • Go easy on yourself

Fire the Drill Sergeant, Hire the Cheerleader:

  • Don’t scold and humiliate yourself when you make a mistake
  • Don’t say “Come on! Get it together! “
  • Instead say “That’s okay you’ll do better next time”

Our Past Experiences influence and shaped our current selves

How Society Had Influenced Our Beliefs & Lifestyle

  • Smoking something that is so awful had been made to look cool by advertisers. Cigarettes are also always smoked by cool characters in the movies which further influence the audience
  • Pantyhose had been turned into a must have for women from all over the world
  • Watches had been transformed into a must have luxury item for men
  • Products and services are sold base on the idea that it will make customers more beautiful, luxurious, healthier, sexier and family oriented etc
  • Romantic comedies had shaped the expectation of men and women everywhere. Men supposed to be the hero. Men love sex more than women etc
  • Beauty and success are subjective. We would suffer if we follow what society tells us how we should live
  • Living by societies standard of what it means to be happy and fulfilled would create a lot of judgements and negative self-talk when we can’t measure up to the world’s standards
  • When we are young we are like sponges, we soak up everything we see and hear whether it’s good or bad. It shapes our mentality and mindset as we grow.

How Scarcity has made us Suffer:

  • Society has been making us believe that love, friendship and money is scarce. We start competing and comparing with others. We start having hatred, delusions and greed mindset which are the sources of human suffering
  • Negative self-talk is all based on fear. We fear that we are not good enough, we fear that we did not earn enough or did not perform good enough. We keep reminding ourselves who we are not and what we do not have
  • When you notice yourself saying you have not enough, ask yourself what scarcity mindset are you having?

“Know That you have always been good enough, you’ll always be good enough as you are”

The Origin of Self Judgement

“I’m not good enough”

“I’m not pretty enough”

“I’m not worthy”

The idea of humans is flawed had been ingrained in all major religions:

  • In Christianity, Jesus came down to die for our sins
  • In Islam, we have the idea of original sin and falling from grace
  • In Buddhism, Buddha had been reminded by Mara that he is unworthy of enlightenment

“Our judgements and belief are making us sick”

Always Be Questioning Your Judgement & Beliefs:

  • We humans love to tell stories. Sometimes we make up negative stories from facts we know without knowing the whole truth.
  • An employee was waving at her boss she saw, and he didn’t wave back, and she thought that he was angry with her and he is going fire her tomorrow. but it turns out that he really didn’t see her.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What judgement am I making?
  2. What story am I telling myself as a result of this judgement?
  3. What do I know to be true?

Release Your Negative Self Talk

  • We should relieve negative self-talks that no longer serve us, clinging to them will only make us suffer
  • We find it hard to release the bad thoughts because it has become a habit for us, and a habit is hard to break.
  • Our identity is created around this negative self-talk and when we stop it, we don’t know who we are
  • Release yourself from your negative self-talk by saying to yourself: “I realize this is negative self-talk and I’m releasing myself from it”

Start Forgiving Yourself:

Write down all your negative self-talk you’ve say to yourself and tell yourself this:

“I forgive myself for judging myself and for all my negative self-talk. We all sometimes say things that aren’t helpful or accurate and I forgive myself for saying those things”

Forgive yourself for the role in the situation.

“When we know better, we do better”

Forgive other people and the situation because clinging to them will only make you suffer

Fake forgiveness until you feel it because it takes time to for it to sink in


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Talk you yourself positively every morning

“I love you !… you’re gonna have a great day !”

“Take it easy, this is going to be okay”

“You’re doing a great job, I love you”

Judgement Vs Observation

Judgement is the root of all negative self-talk

Judgment: I can’t believe he would ask to borrow money from me again;
he hasn’t even paid me back from the last time. He needs to get a job and
get his financial house in order. He is pathetic. I’ll tell him no.

Observation: He has borrowed money from me before and has not yet
paid it back. I don’t think it would be wise, based on past experience, to
loan him money again. I’ll tell him no

Judgment: I am so fat! Even the doctor said so! How embarrassing! I have got to get my butt to the gym and start eating right. But it’s so hard, I’m not sure I can do it, I shouldn’t even waste my time trying.

Observation: The doctor said overall I am in good health, but that he is a little concerned about my weight. he said if I eat healthily and start exercising then I would be able to lose 5kg and prevent getting diseases like diabetes and heart disease

Replace Overreaction with Calm & Balanced Assessments

Overreaction: “This was the worst mistake I could ever make !” or “Everything is terrible !”

Calm assessment: “That wasn’t your best, I’ll do better next time

Replace your old bad negative self-talk with new positive and better ones:

  1. Replace personalization with balance responsibility
  2. Replace absolute language with balance relative language
  3. Replace Assumption with Focus on Facts (And Not Knowing!)
  4. Replace expectation & control with optimisms
  5. Replace comparison with abundance mentality
  6. Replace regret with appreciation

Learning to laugh at life

It is very hard to feel miserable when you are laughing. Find the humor in life and you will find happiness

Change Your Words, Change Your World

How we talk to ourselves is how we view the world. We have to the power to change it right now.

Speak to yourself with love and compassion. Change your negative perception of the world with positive talk.

Negative self-talk is a symptom of your judgement and false assumptions. Its an indicator to show you where to work on self next.

You’ll stumble and fall in this journey but it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail. Cheer yourself up like you are your own best friend.


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