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10 Ways to Overcome Negative Self-Talk

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Overcome Negative Self-Talk

When you woke up this morning, stumbled over to the mirror, and had a good long gander, what was the first thing you said to yourself? Did you give yourself a solid pep talk, remind yourself how awesome you are and think about all the ways you were going to crush it today? Probably not. You let that trash-talking peanut gallery in your head make you feel like you’re inadequate. Enough! If you’re going to take on the world and conquer it, you’ve got to overcome negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk is a symptom of something greater than just a lack of self-confidence. It can stem from years of not feeling support, an unending string of what we perceive to be failure, and an inability to see our potential. The roots of pervasive negativity can go all the way back to our childhood and manifest because we have unfinished business there, or it can be because we never developed a sense of resilience. Overcoming negative self-talk isn’t merely an exercise in changing our mindset (although, that is a vital component for transformation), but a process which we have to be open to, so we can realize that on the other side of “I can’t” is an infinite world of “I absolutely can!”

You know that ol’ adage, “If we don’t respect ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to respect us?” The same goes for negative self-talk. We can’t lean on others to believe in us if we’re sitting in the back row doing an audit on our life instead of realizing that we are exceptional. So let’s dive in and learn some strategies to change our inner conversations and overcome negative self-talk for good.

Best Ways to Overcome Negative Self-Talk

1. Call Your Critic By Name

Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out. You have been throwing shade at yourself for so long, you probably don’t even recognize when you’re being negative. That inner critic has latched onto you like a parasite and it’s time to set it free. Give that critic a name, something funny. And every time you hear or catch yourself thinking something negative or critical, talk to your inner critic as if it were a person. Let it know it’s gunning for a break-up, and it’s just a matter of time. If you feel comfortable enough, share the name of your inner critic with your friends and family so when they recognize you being negative, they can keep you accountable.

2. Talk it Out to Overcome Negative Self-Talk

Keeping with the theme of reaching out to friends and family, overcoming negative self-talk is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. And chances are, the ones closest to you (including your boss) have suffered alongside you. They are just as invested in your becoming a happier, more positive person as you are. So when you feel yourself slipping into the doldrums, shoot a text to a trusted confidant and run those thoughts by them. If you’re mid-rant, telling yourself how useless you are, wouldn’t it be liberating to have someone chime in to tell you how smart, hardworking and kind you are? Of course. It’s going to take a few battles to win the war, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of trusty troops.

3. If You Can’t Get Positive, Go Neutral

There is no pill for overcoming negative self-talk (though some may disagree). It takes work. Placing pressure on yourself to be all rainbows and sunshine right out of the gate only sets you up for failure, putting you in a headspace where negativity begets negativity. Take baby steps. Start with very simple language changes. Swap out sentences like, “I can’t do this” or “this will never,” with phrases like, “I just need more time” and “maybe this can.” This may seem trivial and ridiculous, but we’re talking about the power of language. Think about how destructive your language has been to you and your life. If you’re not ready to fully commit to complete transformation, let’s at least crack the door open, and explore some possibilities.

4. Stay in the Moment

Whew! This is a tough one, especially when one of your favourite things to do (subconsciously) is to focus on the absolute worst case scenario of everything in life. But unless you’ve discovered time travel, you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen. Stop focusing on the “what if” and get your head in the game by being comfortable with the “right now.”

Stop Negative Self-Talk with Mindfulness

5. Get Off the Guilt Trip

Avid negative self-talkers love to pack their bags and head out on the most epic guilt trips. Guilt tripping lets you take inventory of every single minute thing that you didn’t get done, and then you get to revel in your failure to complete things. What about focusing on all the things you accomplished instead? If you want to overcome negative self-talk, take 15 minutes out of your day every day and write down everything you accomplished. No detail is too small. From brushing your teeth, to closing a sale, to doing a load of laundry. You’re getting stuff done; you’re just too focused on what you feel like you should be doing.

6. Stop Pretending to Read Minds

Unless you’ve been side-gigging as a psychic, you have absolutely no idea what’s going on in someone else’s head. Read that again. If they haven’t told you, you have no idea what someone else is thinking. So why are you creating negative dialogues about what they might be thinking about you? You need to stop attaching meaning to everything someone says to you, and stop fabricating stories that say bad things about you.

7. Surround Yourself With Positive People

Sure, opposites attract, but rarely do individuals who regularly engage in negative self-talk attract happy, positive people, and there’s good reason for that; happy people like to surround themselves with other happy people. If you exist in a circle of negativity outside of yourself, what hope do you have of making a transformation? Make some social adjustments. If you’ve got family members who are enabling you or engage in negative self-talk, take a step back. Tell them you love them, but you need to make some changes for your mental well being.

Overcome Negative Self-Talk via Association

8. Shift Your Perspective to Stop Negative Self-Talk

Pffft! Easier said than done, right? Sure, but totally worth a try. Take an inventory of your fears, your concerns, your challenges. Write them out, and read them back to yourself. Now write down why you think you’re incapable of overcoming these things. Are they really so difficult? Are you asking yourself to climb Everest with no equipment next weekend? Are you being asked to solve world hunger by 2023? How dire are these issues you’re facing? You can absolutely push through whatever is holding you back from unleashing your potential. 

9. Simplify Your Social Media Influences

Don’t panic, I’m not telling you to get off social media…completely. What I am asking you to do is to take a deep dive on who and what you are letting influence your inner dialogue on the social media landscape. Are you following positive people and brands? Do you spend hours and hours disappearing down social media rabbit holes, only to come up for air feeling even less adequate than when you swiped into the app? Clear the decks! If you’re not following accounts that make you feel like a rock star, or share positive narratives, you do not need them in your life right now.

10. Become Someone Else’s Hype Person

Helping others makes us feel good. It gets those endorphins pumping. But it also has a sneaky way of making us feel better about ourselves, and we tend to hold our chins a little higher. Consider taking on a mentorship role to someone in your life. It could be a friend starting a business or a colleague who needs some support in getting that next promotion. Engaging in supportive dialogue with someone we care about can retrain our brains into quieting our own inner critics.

Stop Negative Self-Talk by Helping Others

Final Thoughts on Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is akin to cancer. It can permeate every aspect of our life, impacting our career aspirations, family and friend dynamics, and relationships. The great news is, it’s not a permanent state of being, it’s a choice. Like everything in life, anything worth having requires time, effort and dedication, but once you cross that threshold into living a more positive existence, everything gets easier from there on out. So, if you’re ready to overcome negative self-talk for good, put these tips to good use.

Till next time,

STRIVE

PS – If you enjoyed this article on how to overcome negative self-talk, then you’ll enjoy this read on how changing your mindset can can change your life.

Kristie Santana is the founder and CEO of the National Coach Academy and a proud contributor of Life Coach Path; a collective of coaches looking to help educate students on the virtues and benefits of a career in the coaching field. Kristie is also a life coach herself, a coaching advocate and educator, and devoted mother of two. She lives in New York City.

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