Self-talk is what we think about ourselves. It has many forms. I can’t do it. I am not good at this. I Can’t We all heard the expression, “being your own worst critic.” We’ve all probably experienced it, too. Even the most successful and happiest people deal with negative self-talk, that critical inner voice that chimes in with a message of doubt, fear, blame, or judgment.
If this happens too often, it can negatively impact the mental health of a person. We start believing what we’re telling ourselves, even if it’s not true. The continuous negative statements towards ourselves have so much power that they affect our goals or experience joyful moments in life.
There are some common patterns that people have around negative thinking and negative self-talk. Types of negative self-talk include:
- Personalizing You start to blame yourself for anything bad that happens to you for no apparent reason. You consider yourself the root cause of all problems. You seem to always be beating yourself up.
- Catastrophizing You always think about the possible worst scenario.
- Filtering You only focus on the negative things and filter out any positive things from your life.
- BlamingYou try to say someone else is responsible for what happened to you instead of yourself. You avoid being responsible for your thoughts and feelings.
- Saying you “should” do something. You think of all the things you think you should do and blame yourself for not doing them.
- Magnifying. You make a big deal out of minor problems.
- Perfectionism. Keeping impossible standards and trying to be more perfect sets you up for failure.
- Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground.
Consequences of Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk lowers one’s ability to think positively about events. One large-scale study found that rumination and self-blame over negative events were linked to an increased risk of mental health problems.
- Limited Thinking The more you tell yourself you can’t do something, the more you believe it.
- Perfectionism: You begin to really believe that “great” isn’t as good as “perfect,” and that perfection is actually attainable. In contrast, mere high achievers tend to do better than their perfectionistic counterparts because they are generally less stressed and are happy with a job well done. They don’t pick it apart and try to zero in on what could have been better.
- Feelings of depression: Some research has shown that negative self-talk can lead to depression If left unchecked, this could be quite damaging.
- Relationship challenges: Whether the constant self-criticism makes you seem needy and insecure or you turn your negative self-talk into more general negative habits that bother others, a lack of communication and even a “playful” amount of criticism can take a toll.
How to Minimize Negative Self-Talk
Thoughts are not always real
You should learn that your all thoughts are not always real. Negative thinking and feelings are sometimes true but not always. You are not always on the wrong side.
Limit your negative thinking
If you are being critical about something or some event. Just make sure how much negativity you can take from that situation. Limit your negative thinking about the situation, how much negativity you can take a check on this.
Change Negativity with Neutrality
Change your negative thinking with neutrality. If you can’t be positive all the time then become neutral about the situation. It’s often far easier to change the intensity of your language. “I can’t stand this” becomes, “This is challenging.” “I hate…” becomes, “I don’t like…” and even, “I don’t prefer…”
Think Like a Friend
When our inner critic is at its worst, it can sound like our worst enemy. Often we’ll say things to ourselves in our heads that we’d never say to a friend. Why not reverse this and—when you catch yourself speaking negatively in your head—make it a point to imagine yourself saying this to a close friend?
Shift Your Perspective
Sometimes looking at things in the long term can help you to realize that you may be placing too great an emphasis on something. For example, you may ask yourself if something you’re upset by will really matter in five years or even one.
Replace the Bad With Some Good
This is one of the best routes to combating negative self-talk: Replace it with something better. Take a negative thought and change it to something encouraging that’s also accurate.
Negative self-talk is something that most of us experience from time to time, and it comes in many forms. It also creates significant stress, not only for us but for those around us if we’re not careful. Here’s what you need to know about negative self-talk and its effects on your body, your mind, your life, and your loved ones.
- Kinderman P, Schwannauer M, Pontin E, Tai S. Psychological Processes Mediate the Impact of Familial Risk, Social Circumstances and Life Events on Mental Health. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(10):e76564. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076564
- Fiske A, Wetherell JL, Gatz M. Depression in Older Adults. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2009;5:363-389. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.032408.153621