5 Ways to Combat Negative Self-Talk

Self-Talk: How Do You Speak to Yourself?

Everyone has an inner critic. This mental monologue can appear to serve many useful purposes: on the surface, it helps you to audit behaviors and statements, improve your performance at work or school and reflect on your achievements. However, research shows that positive self-talk is a much better motivator for success than leaning on the negative self-talk of your inner critic.

The way you speak to yourself matters. Sometimes, self-talk can take the form of vicious, hurtful remarks we’d never dream of saying to friends or family members. That inner critic isn’t harmless – it causes you to underestimate your abilities and talk yourself out of improving your circumstances. When left unchecked, this combination of negativity and self-harm can result in low mood or mental health issues like anxiety or depression. Today, we’ll provide some key tactics to breaking the cycle of negative self-talk once and for all.

1. Admit that You Have a Problem

The first of AA’s twelve steps bears a striking similarity to this part of the process. Before you can treat a problem, you must first admit to having one. By acknowledging the prevalence of negative self-talk in your day-to-day life, you can begin the work of readjusting your mindset for the future.

2. Be Aware of the Critic

This stage has its roots in the theory of mindfulness. Make a concerted effort to slow down and pay more attention to your inner dialogue, along with the feelings it creates. Emotions like shame, guilt and worthlessness may emerge as you tell yourself off throughout the day. To track this, consider keeping a note about your inner critic on your phone or computer. Every time you notice a moment of negative self-talk, jot down a few key words about what spurred it – late to meeting, call with sister – and what you said to yourself – I’m lazy, I’m a bad sibling. By building an awareness of how your inner critic works, you can identify patterns and potential triggers.

3. Separate Yourself from the Critical Mindset

The inner critic operates best without supervision – it doesn’t want you to realize that it isn’t a part of you, but rather is a coalescence of outside influences and painful experiences with others. Expert Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., recommends assigning a fun name to your inner critic in order to differentiate it from your core self and create a bit of levity.

4. Talk Back.

This is one of the key ways in which you can take the power away from negative self-talk. When you notice bad thoughts or harsh personal judgments, sass back at your inner critic. You can even do this out loud in an appropriate setting. Say that these claims are ridiculous. Refuse to listen and choose instead to be kind to yourself.

5. Cultivate Positive Self-Talk

The final step is to replace negative self-talk with a healthy, positive mindset. This can be achieved through intentional cultivation. Speak to yourself as you would a dear friend. Make small observations about your talents and traits: the good things about yourself. In this way, you will create a habit of gravitating towards the positive in each situation, instead of focusing on only the negative. With just a little effort, anyone can break free of their inner critic and live a happy, full life in recovery.

Becoming Your Best Self at Cumberland Heights

Every day, Cumberland Heights’ compassionate staff members dedicate themselves to helping clients become their happiest, most authentic selves. By choosing to break the cycle of addiction and be free of drugs and alcohol, you can start anew and focus on creating a life you’re proud of. Call 800-646-9998 to learn about our addiction treatment opportunities in the Middle Tennessee area.