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Stop Negative Self-Talk: What It Is and How To Reverse It

Are you struggling to figure out how to stop negative self-talk? Don’t worry — you’re not alone. We’ve got the help you need.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels

Stop Negative Self-Talk: What It Is and How To Reverse It

Do you ever find yourself saying things like "I'm so stupid!" or "I can't believe I did that!"? Or, perhaps more subtly, "That must have been my fault" or "No wonder no one likes me"? If so, you might be struggling with something called negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk has concerning consequences and may even be a symptom of a more serious medical condition like depression or anxiety. If you recognize yourself saying things like this, it's time to fight back and stop negative self-talk from dragging you down. That means learning how to identify where your negative thoughts are coming from and replace them with positive ones. In this blog post, we'll show you how to stop negative self-talk for good.

Recognize Your Negative Thoughts

The first step to stopping negative self-talk is recognizing when it's happening. Negative self-talk is often subtle and easy to miss, but if you're paying attention, you'll be able to hear your inner voice talking in a way that would make you cringe if someone else said it.

Negative self-talk can come in different forms. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are four types of negative self-talk to be aware of:

• Personalizing: where you make everything about yourself (e.g., “This is obviously my fault. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t done X, Y, Z…”)

• Filtering: where you focus only on negative statements and not on anything good (e.g., only paying attention to the negative parts of a conversation with your boss, not all the good parts).

• Polarizing: where you only see things as good or bad (e.g., if someone says you look great but you should try a different color shoe, you think your whole outfit is ugly).

• Catastrophizing: where you think everything will go wrong, no matter what you do (e.g., "This will never work out!" or "No point doing this… it’s bound to go wrong").

It can be helpful to determine what type of negative self-talk you experience so that when it happens again, you know what kind of statement or thought pattern needs addressing.

Replace Negative Self-Talk With Positive Statements

If you want to stop negative self-talk, you must learn how to replace it with positive thoughts and actions. This can be as simple as saying something nice about yourself or taking a walk around the block to give yourself a break.

Examples of ways to replace negative self-talk with positivity include:

• Saying kind things to yourself in your head or out loud: “I am capable; I can do this!” or “I look nice in this outfit today.”

• Using positive affirmations (positive statements that you repeat to yourself regularly): “Today, I will be the best version of myself I can be” or “I am a kind, generous, and loving mother.”

• Smiling and making eye contact with other people during a conversation: this puts you in a better frame of mind and will help you interpret their comments as positive ones, not negative ones.

Keep a Journal To Practice Gratitude

Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to stop negative self-talk. This is because you can reflect on your day, track the times and situations where you noticed yourself having negative thoughts, and reframe those negative thoughts directly on the page.

If you don’t want to keep a diary every day, here are some alternative ideas:

• Write down examples of when you've experienced negative self-talk in the past week or so, including what was happening at the time and how it made you feel. For example, you said to yourself, "Ugh, I'm so lazy!" while watching a fitness competition on TV, which made you feel inferior to the athletes on the show.

• Keep track of things that trigger your negative thoughts and feelings. It may be something specific, like being criticized by a friend or colleague, or it could be something more general, like letting yourself get too hungry throughout the morning and then binge eating at lunchtime.

• Make a note of instances where you took action to stop negative thoughts from taking over. These could be practicing mindfulness meditation for 10 minutes every morning before work or taking a short walk to process your thoughts after receiving some criticism at your weekly sports practice.

Make Time for Exercise and Meditation

Learning how to stop negative self-talk is much easier when you incorporate exercise and meditation into your daily routine.

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and other hormones that help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Exercise also helps stop negative self-talk by keeping your mind focused on the present moment in time (i.e., what your body is doing at that very second). It’s easy to fall into bad habits of thinking about the past or projecting into the future when we’re not exercising. However, when we are working out, it becomes much more difficult for our minds to wander off into these unproductive thoughts because there isn't enough idle time for them to take over our brains!

Meditation is another great way to stop negative self-talk. Regular meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts, allowing you to recognize when they are negative or unhelpful and then let them go. Meditation can also help you be more mindful and present by focusing on what is happening in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future. Finally, meditation helps people become less reactive and more relaxed because it teaches them how to relax their bodies during stressful situations instead of tensing up — both of which will also help combat negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk is a common problem that can greatly impact your life. But if you’re willing to work on it, you can start to see results really quickly!


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