Updated: Aug 27, 2022
Negative self-talk is a common habit. It's the voice in your head that says things like "you're not good enough" or "you'll never be able to do that." It can take many forms, but it often goes unnoticed because we've learned to live with it and accept it as normal. But negative self-talk isn't normal! It's simply a habit that you can break. In this article, we'll show you how to recognize negative self-talk and retrain your brain so you can stop criticizing yourself—and start having more positive thoughts instead!
Understand what negative self-talk is and where it comes from.
Negative self-talk is a form of inner speech that you engage in when you're feeling frustrated, angry or upset. It's characterized by statements like: "I'm dumb," or "I can't do this."
Sometimes negative self-talk is based on thoughts that everyone has at one point or another—like when you want to give up on something but then come back to it later with renewed focus. But often, it gets in the way of our goals and ambitions by creating an unhelpful narrative about ourselves and the world around us. If unchecked, this kind of thinking becomes a destructive habit that can lead to anxiety and depression.
Identify your negative self-talk.
What is negative self-talk?
Negative self-talk is the way our mind talks to us when we are not in a good frame of mind. It can be something as subtle as rolling your eyes at your own silly mistake, or it could be making fun of yourself for getting angry at someone. Negative self-talk doesn’t always sound bad or hurtful, but it still impacts your confidence and ability to move forward with confidence and happiness.
How do you know if you are engaging in negative self-talk?
There are signs that indicate that you may be engaging in negative self-talk:
● You have a hard time forgiving yourself for past mistakes
● You have a hard time believing that you deserve success or happiness
● You automatically assume the worst about yourself after making some kind of mistake
Stop the cycle of negative self talk in its tracks.
The habit of negative self-talk is one that is easy to get into and difficult to break, but it's important you do so. Negative self-talk can be defined as any thought or statement that results in a feeling of negativity. Examples include:
● “I'm always late.”
● “I'm so stupid."
● "I'll never lose weight."
In addition to being harmful for your mental health and well being, these thoughts are also not true! Negative self-thinking has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, low self esteem and even cognitive difficulties such as memory loss (1). This means that if you're experiencing negative feelings because of something you've just said or thought about yourself—it's time for action!
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You can retrain your brain to stop criticizing yourself
Negative self-talk is a habit that can be trained out of you. Once you realize that negative self-talk is not an inherent flaw in your character, but rather a conditioned response to certain cues, you'll be able to stop criticizing yourself for feeling the way you do.
Negative self-talk comes about when we are subconsciously trying to protect ourselves from future harm by using our powers of imagination and anticipation. If we anticipate criticism from others (or even from ourselves), it can trigger feelings of anxiety or shame which we then project onto our present situation—in this case, into whatever conversation we're having with someone else in the moment.
This means that if I'm expecting my boss will be angry at me or criticize me at work today because she already did so yesterday, then I might react defensively when confronted by her; my negative reaction becomes justified as an appropriate response given her alleged behavior towards me previously today already! This makes sense if she was actually mean yesterday—but what happens when she wasn't? In our minds' eye they become solely responsible for whatever happens next time around too; these imagined scenarios can become very powerful if they're reinforced over time through regular practice."
Implementing a powerful mind will take time, but the first step is getting started.
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