Negative self-talk is the conversations we have with ourselves that create limiting beliefs. These conversations are typically mean, rather than uplifting or positive, and they’re just stories we tell ourselves.

“I can’t do that.”

“I don’t deserve this.”

“I’ll never be enough.” 

“I failed at this in the past.”

We all have these internal monologues, and sometimes it can be helpful in motivating us to reach goals. But when this inner voice is excessively negative, it can impact your life and even those around you. 

Constant negative thoughts are stressful and may even inhibit your chances of success. There are ways to overcome these thoughts that we’ll discuss below.

5 ways to stop negative self-talk

Name it  

If you have a running dialogue in your head saying things like “you’re not good enough” or “you’ll never accomplish anything,” determine whether that’s your voice or someone else’s trying to hold you back. Did someone say these things to you or did you have a bad experience that stuck with you? 

Once you can name your voice, you can take back control. You are not the negative voice in your head. You know that you are enough.

Truth versus story  

Is your negative self-talk the truth or a story? It’s an important distinction because we may say mean things to ourselves, create situations that never have or will never happen, or we judge something that did happen too harshly. If we don’t befriend our brains we can easily turn something small into something big. 

When your inner critic chimes in, have the truth versus story conversation with yourself and see where it leads.

Treat yourself as you would a friend  

If a friend was saying to you the things you’re saying to yourself, how would you react? Would you ever tell a friend that they are not good enough, smart enough, that they will never accomplish their dreams? No way! You would champion your friend, encourage them to be the best version of themselves.  

So why are you being so mean to yourself?

Be compassionate with yourself and express how you feel  

Once you acknowledge that you’re being harsh with yourself, you can begin to look for reasons why. Maybe there’s something going on that you’re not fully aware of in your own headspace. This is the best time to talk to a friend, family member or counselor about how you’re feeling. When we can get the thoughts out of our heads and bounce them off someone else, we can get to the root cause of where they’re stemming from.

Deep breathing

Deep breaths help to calm the nervous system.  Deep, intentional breaths help stop those racing thoughts and can even manage anxiety. The best part of this exercise is that you can practice deep breathing anywhere. Find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes for a few seconds, and take a few deep breaths in and out. How are you feeling?

Change negative self-talk to positive

It’s beneficial to take a limiting thought and change it to something neutral or encouraging, but also accurate. “I can’t do this” turns into “this is challenging,” which makes it easier to tackle and possibly overcome. Repeat these affirmations until you find you need to do it less often. 

If you find you’re still struggling to overcome negative self-talk, a life coach can help guide you in the right direction. As an unbiased third party, a coach can help you find your moment of clarity and encourage you to move forward. 

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