Changing Negative Self-Talk

Changing Negative Self-Talk

Identify. Challenge. Change


Your self-talk, whether you are aware of it or not, either sabotages (negative) or supports (positive) you. 

Negative self-talk can result in unnecessary stress, overwhelm, anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, & low self-confidence.

Positive self-talk encourages self-confidence, healthy ways of coping, feelings of accomplishment, and a general feeling of well-being. Positive self-talk does not necessarily make everything all better. However, it is a healthy way of weathering the storm, coping through stress (which is inevitable!), and building resilience.

All of Us

We will all experience negative self talk! And we all experience hardship, overwhelm, stress, and relational difficulties. Positive self-talk does not dismiss or invalidate this experience. It helps us cope through it in a healthy way, and even build resilience. Sometimes if we have trouble turning our negative self-talk to  more realistic, balanced, or positive self-talk, it can be helpful to borrow someone else’s voice –such as a friend’s, family’s, or even therapist’s voice–so that it can start to become your own.

In fact, we know that we have approximately 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day. 80% of these thoughts are Negative! Dr.Daniel Amen also says 95% of our thoughts, or self-talk, today are the thoughts we had yesterday. Thus, they are deeply engrained and will not necessarily change over night. However, there is hope: neuroplasticity states that we can change our thought patterns and self-talk to become more balanced. Although it feels as if we will never get out of this or change, with proper help, we absolutely can.


So, ask yourself, 

  • “Is my self-talk sabotaging me or supporting me?
  • “Is it building me up or tearing me down?”
  •  “Is my way of thinking helping me or is it hindering me?”
  • “Would I talk this way to someone I care about? Would they say this to me?”

Action Plan: Identify. Challenge. Change

1. Identify.

Think of a recent time when you were experiencing negative or unhelpful thoughts or self-talk. 

  • What was the situation? 
  • How did you feel? 
  • What did you do? 

2. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts or Negative Self-Talk

  • Is this 100% true?
  • Is this thought helpful? What is a more healthy thought?
  • What would I tell a friend in this situation? What would a friend say to me?
  • What is the evidence for this negative thought being true?
  • What is the evidence against it being true?
  • Is there any other reason this situation could have occurred?
  • Is there another way of looking at this situation? What are some other points-of-view?
  • What is the worst/best/most likely outcome?
  • If the worst did happen, how could I cope? Would I live through it?
  • Will this matter a day from now? Week from now? A year from now? 10 years from now?
  • Is there anything I can do about this right now? 
  • If yes, take appropriate action. If no, accept and move on.

3. Change Your Negative Self-Talk

Catch it.

  • Start to be aware of when you are having negative or unhelpful thoughts. What was the situation, experience, or person you were around? Write it out.

Control it.

  • Stop! When you find yourself thinking negatively say STOP to yourself (in your head or out loud) to stop the downward spiral of thoughts leading to sadness, guilt, anxiety, self doubt, hurt, etc. 

Challenge it.

  • Challenge what you are saying to yourself using the various questions below. 

Change it.

  • Change the negative messages you are saying to yourself to more realistic/positive ones in order to bring about more pleasant and helpful emotions.

Celebrate it & the little things.

  • Enjoy the moment and the feeling you have just created! Great job, You can do it, You’re brave for showing up, You are kind, etc.


  • Choose what you say to yourself! It may be helpful to choose a specific person. What are 5 affirmations they have said or would say about you?

And most importantly,

Be kind to yourself

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