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How To Combat Negative Self-Talk



How To Combat Negative Self-Talk

Think carefully about your answer to this question – how often do you mentally torment yourself? How often do you beat yourself up over certain things, feel guilty about them and generally think negative thoughts about yourself? 

If the answer is, “quite a lot”, then you’re most definitely not alone. The majority of us endure our own negative self-talk, many on a daily basis. We tell ourselves that we should and shouldn’t be doing certain things and that we’re simply not enough. 

A little pep talk to ourselves every now and again is healthy. It can help to remind us that we might be repeating a mistake, or going a little wayward away from our goals. But constant negative self-talk is damaging. 

What is negative self-talk?

Common examples of negative self-talk are:

“I can never do anything right.”

“I’m no good at my job and I’m bound to be found out eventually.” (This is an example of Imposter Syndrome.) 

“I’m such a bad friend.”

“That bad thing happened because I did something bad in the past.”

“I shouldn’t eat that because it’s not good for me and I don’t deserve a treat.”

This inner critical dialogue can make us believe that we’re not enough, or that we’re “rubbish” at something which then sends us into a spiral of low self-esteem, worry and fear. It can also limit our boundaries of success or make us believe that unless we’re “perfect”, we’re no good. 

How to stop negative self-talk

It can be difficult to completely change your mind set, but reducing the number of negative thoughts you have about yourself can help you feel more positive and have more self-belief. So here’s our tips on quietening your inner critic…

  • Recognising negative self-talk is key to reducing it, so try to make a conscious effort to notice when you’re doing it. When you do, label it as a negative and try to think of the circumstances that led to it. Understanding your triggers can also be helpful in making habit changes. 
  • Repeating a negative thought out loud can be helpful in you realising quite how negative, damaging and unrealistic it is. 
  • Remind yourself, as often as it takes, that thoughts and feelings aren’t always fact. Just because you’re thinking something negative, it doesn’t mean that it’s real. 
  • When you find yourself being self-critical, neutralise this thought with a positive one. For example, if you tell yourself you’re weak because you gave into a treat, practice positive self-talk by reminding yourself of the last time you exercised and how good you felt. This may then spur you on to fit in an OYG exercise class that day. 
  • Remove the words should and shouldn’t from your vocabulary! 

And if all else fails – think like a friend. Would one of your closest and most honest friends tell you these negative things about yourself? Probably not. Or, would you tell them that they’re not good enough? Most definitely not. So why do it to yourself? 

Being kind extends to being kind to ourselves, so make sure you practice positive self-talk at least once a day. 

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