How Do I Stop Negative Self-Talk?

by Jonathan Turpin  - October 9, 2023

Negative self-talk can be extremely challenging to overcome. It’s downstream from deeper beliefs. For the most part, many people don’t even realize they are engaging in negative self-talk because they don’t question it. It’s just the perpetual inner dialogue that they’ve come to accept as “themselves.”

In order to overcome negative self-talk, you’ll need patience, practice, and persistence. Eventually, you can replace it with more positive and constructive self-talk, but you should expect to put in some serious time and effort.

I work with clients to successfully overcome and replace negative self-talk, deep taken-for-granted-as-truth negative beliefs, and counter-productive identities that cause self-sabotage. If you’ve been struggling with any of these issues and are ready to finally tackle them, you can schedule a free session below.

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What is negative self-talk?

Negative self-talk is critical or self-defeating thoughts and inner dialogue that flash through your mind with such engrained speed that you begin acting on them before they’ve even had their full say. They express self-doubt, self-criticism, and low self-esteem, which can negatively impact your behavior, actions, self-worth, confidence, overall well-being, and ability to experience the life you want. 

Negative self-talk distorts reality, amplifies your insecurities, and can cause feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. Here are some examples of negative self-talk:

All-or-nothing thinking:

This is when you see things in black-and-white terms with no middle ground.  

  • “I didn’t get the promotion; I must be a complete failure.”
  • “If I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all.”

You imagine the worst possible outcomes of a situation.  

  • “If I make a mistake at work, I’ll get fired, and my career will be ruined.”
  • “If I don’t succeed in this relationship, I’ll be alone forever.”

You tend to take responsibility for external events or other people’s behavior, even when it’s not your responsibility.  

  • “It’s my fault that the project failed; I should have done better.”
  • “They’re upset because of something I said; I always mess things up.”
Labeling and Name-Calling: 

You use harsh and judgmental language to describe yourself.  

  • “I’m so stupid; I can’t believe I made that mistake.”
  • “I’m a loser; I can’t do anything right.”

You draw broad, negative conclusions based on a single event or experience.   

  • “I failed this test; I’m never going to succeed academically.”
  • “I got rejected once; I’ll never find love.”

You compare yourself to others and think that you come up short or are inferior.  

  • “Everyone is more successful than me; I’ll never catch up.”
  • “She’s so much smarter and more talented; I’ll never be as good as her.”
Should Statements: 

You impose unrealistic expectations on yourself, leading to guilt and frustration.  

  • “I should be working harder; I’m so lazy.”
  • “I should have it all together by now; I’m a failure for not being more successful.”
Discounting Positives: 

You dismiss or downplay your accomplishments and positive qualities.  

  • “It was just luck that I got that job; I don’t deserve it.”
  • “Anyone could have done what I did; it’s not a big deal.”

Negative self-talk can be pervasive and damaging. As you learn to recognize your negative thought patterns, you’ll take the first step toward replacing them. Developing self-awareness and practicing self-compassion are essential.  

How Do I Stop Negative Self-Talk?

Here are step-by-step instructions to help you stop negative self-talk. You’ve probably seen these steps before. They seem simple and easy but believe me, they are usually difficult and uncomfortable if you’re doing them right. So my suggestion is that you devote 5-10 minutes a day for seven days each to the steps below.

Here are step-by-step instructions to help you stop negative self-talk. You’ve probably seen these steps before. They seem simple and easy but believe me, they are usually difficult and uncomfortable if you’re doing them right.

Also if you want faster and deeper results, schedule an initial free consultation with me.

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  • Start by becoming aware of your negative self-talk. Pay attention to the thoughts and statements you make about yourself. Notice when you’re being self-critical or self-doubting.
Identify Patterns and Triggers:
  • Try to identify patterns in your negative self-talk. What situations or triggers send you into negative self-talk? Recognizing these patterns is the first step.
Challenge Negative Thoughts:
  • Whenever you engage in negative self-talk, try to challenge those thoughts. Ask yourself questions like:
  • Is this thought based on facts or assumptions?
  • Would I say this to a friend in a similar situation?
  • What story am I telling myself?
  • What evidence do I have to support or refute this thought?

By questioning the validity of negative thoughts, you can gain perspective and reduce their power.

Reframe Negative Thoughts:
  • Replace negative thoughts with more positive and realistic ones. For example, if you think, “I’m not good enough,” reframe it as, “I am capable, and I can improve with effort.” Use affirmations and positive self-statements to counteract negativity.
Practice Self-Compassion:
  • Treat yourself as if you were a friend. Be kind and patient with yourself. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and faces challenges. You should expect setbacks, so be gentle when they happen.   
Mindfulness Meditation:
  • Mindfulness meditation is very powerful. It can help you detach from negative thoughts and become more aware of them. This doesn’t have to be complicated or long; just 5 minutes a day of focused breathing can initiate the change. If you want a more in-depth program, this is a free 8-week meditation program. Over time, this can reduce the impact of negative self-talk.
Seek Evidence for Positive Self-Talk:
  • When you engage in positive self-talk, seek evidence to support it. For instance, if you tell yourself, “I am capable of handling this task,” remind yourself of past achievements or skills demonstrating your capability. Also, get specific about the task. Break it into chunks and coach yourself through it. 
Create a Positive Affirmation Routine:
  • Develop a list of positive affirmations about your self-worth, abilities, and goals. Repeat these affirmations regularly, especially when you notice negative self-talk creeping in.
Surround Yourself with Positivity:
  • Surround yourself with positive and inspiring influences, whether supportive friends, motivational books, or uplifting podcasts. You’re not the first, nor the last, to battle negative self-talk. Limit exposure to negative people or situations that reinforce self-doubt.
  • Visualize yourself succeeding and achieving your goals. Visualize yourself taking action, setting and accomplishing goals, encountering setbacks, and pushing through. 
Seek Professional Help if Needed:
  • Consider working with a professional if negative self-talk is deeply ingrained or causing significant distress. I offer a complimentary first session where we will get to work rooting out your negative beliefs and self-talk.
Patience, Practice, and Persistence:
  • Breaking the habit of negative self-talk takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and persistent in your efforts to change. Celebrate small victories along the way.

Remember that stopping negative self-talk is an ongoing process. It’s normal to have self-doubt, but with consistent practice, you can gradually shift your inner dialogue toward greater positivity and self-compassion. Over time, you’ll build a more resilient and positive self-image.

Start Your Journey Today

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Jonathan Turpin

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