December 04, 2023

How to Change Your Negative Self-Talk

Do you ever catch yourself echoing negative thoughts about yourself? Maybe it’s an inner voice that’s overly critical or phrases you’ve internalized from others. These thoughts can shape how we perceive ourselves and influence our actions. But the good news is, we have the power to reshape this narrative. In this blog post we will explore on how to find and change our negative self-talk.

Understanding Negative Self-Talk

Have you ever wondered why we tend to lean towards negative thinking rather than embracing positivity? The answer lies in what social scientists term the ‘negativity bias,’ a survival mechanism ingrained within our species. Our brains have evolved to focus on and retain negative experiences more strongly, steering us away from similar situations in the future. This explains why solving a math problem in a group might cause discomfort for someone who struggled with math in high school—our brain kicks into survival mode when confronted with familiar, unpleasant scenarios.


Negative self-talk often originates from past experiences or external criticisms that have left lasting imprints on our self-perception. It significantly influences our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Yet, breaking free from this pattern demands deliberate effort and mindfulness. Through such efforts, we can pave a path towards cultivating a more nurturing self-view, bolstering self-worth, and dismantling detrimental behaviors.

How to Identify Negative Messages

Observing your inner dialogue for a week offers a profound opportunity for self-awareness. Listen closely to the words you employ, whether voiced aloud or within your mind, in describing yourself and your actions. Equally important is recognizing external influences such as bosses, colleagues, family, or friends who might convey negative perceptions about you.


As you pinpoint these negative thoughts or external criticisms, jot them down. What recurring themes emerge from your self-talk or the feedback of others? Once identified, the crucial step is to reframe these messages into positive self-affirmations. This transformative process allows you to reshape your inner narrative and cultivate a more empowering mindset.

Rewriting the Narrative

Revising negative self-talk involves applying a reframing technique deeply rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In a therapeutic context, the emphasis lies in acknowledging the negative messages you convey to yourself and exploring alternative perspectives on the situation—questioning whether there might be another way to perceive and interpret it. This exercise aims to foster adaptability, guiding us away from rigid, all-or-nothing thinking toward more constructive thought patterns.


Imagine how you might feel once you uncover alternative narratives to your experiences. Instead of sticking to a single interpretation of your situation, you discover two or three additional ways of viewing things. The more you practice challenging your negative thoughts with alternative narratives, the smoother it becomes to gain clarity and cultivate self-compassion. This process gradually empowers you to navigate your inner dialogue with greater understanding and kindness.

Changing Negative Thoughts

A Holistic Approach to Negative Self-Talk

In the previous article, we highlighted five strategies to quiet the inner critic. Alongside recognizing your negative self-talk, a key approach involves questioning the validity of these negative thoughts. For instance, when confronted with a thought like “no one will ever love you,” consider probing its certainty about the future. Is it truly certain that not even a single person will feel love for you? In therapy, this exploration often involves gently guiding individuals to understand the underlying black-and-white thinking pattern.


Furthermore, the article recommends engaging in activities like Loving Kindness Meditation and the Positive Affirmation technique. Through Loving Kindness Meditation, the focus is on fortifying self-compassion and softening our self-criticism. Similarly, the Positive Affirmation technique encourages us to articulate affirming statements.


For instance, when facing negative thoughts about work performance, employing Positive Affirmations might sound like: “I excel at problem-solving and will improve in no time” or “I belong where I am, and I deserve to be here. I will strive for improvement next time.” These practices aim to reframe our inner dialogue, fostering self-encouragement and nurturing a more positive self-view.

A Word of Caution

It’s crucial to understand that the aim of reframing isn’t to cultivate unrealistic positivity but rather to offer a clearer view of reality and break free from the cycle of negative thinking. Having multiple alternative perspectives on a situation is far more advantageous than clinging to a singular negative outlook.


The journey of transforming negative self-talk signifies a path toward self-empowerment and personal development. By reshaping the manner in which we converse with ourselves, we carve out room for a more nurturing and supportive inner dialogue. Utilize the chart above to recognize instances of negative self-talk and endeavor to substitute them with more realistic alternatives.


Remember, if persistent negative thought patterns significantly distress you, considering professional assistance is prudent. A therapist proficient in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can provide guidance to navigate and overcome negative self-talk effectively.

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