How to Stop Negative Self-Talk: 21 Tips

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23 April 2024

8 Mins

Have you ever found yourself thinking things like "I'm not good enough" or "I always mess things up"? This can be negative self talk which is a common experience that many of us deal with. It's an inner voice that criticizes, doubts, and puts us down, without us even realizing it.

This harmful pattern can affect our mental health, making us feel more stressed, anxious, and like we're not good enough. Fortunately, the good news is, there are things we can do to stop negative self talk. In this article, let’s learn some simple tricks to help us stop being so hard on ourselves and feel better inside.

What Is Negative Self Talk?

Negative self talk means critically or negatively talking to yourself, for instance, when you say to yourself like "I'm not good enough" or "I always mess things up." This kind of thinking can make you feel bad about yourself and can affect how you see the world around you. It includes:

Saying mean things to yourself, like "I'm stupid" or "I'm ugly." Thinking that everything is going to turn out really badly, even if it's not likely. Believing that things are either perfect or a total disaster, with no middle ground. Blaming yourself for things that aren't your fault. Always comparing yourself to others and feeling like you're not as good as them.

Negative Self Talk Examples

Negative Self Talk Examples

Negative self talk can take many forms and can be harmful to your self-esteem and wellbeing. It's important to recognize when you're engaging in negative self talk and challenge those thoughts with more positive and realistic perspectives. Here are some of the common examples:

  • "I failed this test, so I will always be a failure."
  • "It's my fault my friend is upset. I always ruin everything."
  • "If I don't get this job, my life will be ruined."
  • "If I'm not perfect, I'm a complete failure."
  • "I know everyone thinks I'm stupid."
  • "I'm such an idiot for making that mistake."
  • "Sure, I did well on that project, but anyone could have done it."
  • "I should have done better. I'm such a disappointment."
  • "I feel like a failure, so I must be one."
  • "I'll never be as successful as my friend. I'm just not good enough."

How Can Negative Self-Talk Impact Mental Health?

How Can Negative Self-Talk Impact Mental Health

Negative self-talk can affect how we feel inside, which can make us feel anxious, sad, or not good about ourselves. Understanding how negative self-talk impacts our mental health helps us realize why it's important to change these thoughts to feel better about ourselves.

It can affect mental health in these ways:

  • Feeling bad about yourself: If you're always putting yourself down, it can make you feel like you're not good enough or don't deserve good things.
  • Feeling worried and stressed: When you're always thinking the worst is going to happen, it can make you feel anxious and stressedout all the time.
  • Feeling sad and hopeless: Negative self-talk can make you feel down and hopeless like things will never get better.
  • Having trouble figuring out problems: If you don't believe in yourself, it's hard to find solutions to problems or believe that things will work out okay.
  • Not wanting to spend time with others: Feeling bad about yourself can make you want to avoid other people or feel like you don't deserve their friendship.
  • Doing things that aren't good for you: Negative self-talk can make you do things that aren't good for you, like avoiding things you need to do or treating yourself badly.
  • Feeling tired or sick: Being stressed out all the time can make you feel physically tired or even sick, like getting headaches or stomach aches.

21 Tips for How to Stop Negative Self Talk

21 Tips for How to Stop Negative Self Talk

Whether you're dealing with self-doubt, feeling overwhelmed, or just want to feel better about yourself, these strategies will empower you to cultivate a more positive mindset and live your best life, and give you clear direction on how to stop negative self talk.

1. Be kind to yourself

Treat yourself with compassion and understanding, like you would treat a friend. Instead of being harsh or critical, offer yourself words of encouragement and support. Acknowledge that you're human and that it's okay to make mistakes or have flaws.

2. Question negative thoughts about yourself

When negative thoughts about yourself pop into your head, take a moment to challenge them. Ask yourself if there's evidence to support these thoughts or if they're just assumptions. Consider whether there might be alternative explanations or more positive interpretations of the situation.

3. Think about your good qualities

Take inventory of your strengths, talents, and positive traits. Make a list of things you're proud of or times when you've succeeded. Remind yourself of these qualities regularly, especially when negative thoughts start to creep in.

4. Be thankful

Practicing gratitude can help shift your focus from what's going wrong to what's going right in your life. Take time each day to think about the things you're grateful for, whether it's your health, relationships, or simple pleasures like a sunny day or a good meal.

5. Say positive things to yourself

Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Instead of saying, "I can't do this," try saying, "I can do this, and I'll do my best." Speak to yourself with kindness and encouragement, as you would to a friend in need, without going into toxic positivity.

6. Hang out with positive people

Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who uplift and support you. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself and encourage you to be your best self. Positive social interactions can help counteract negative self-talk.

7. Use social media wisely

Be mindful of how social media affects your mood and self-esteem. Limit your exposure to content that makes you feel inadequate or triggers negative comparisons. Curate your social media feeds to include positive and uplifting content that inspires and motivates you.

8. Take small steps toward your goals

Break down big goalsinto smaller, more manageable tasks. Focus on taking one small step at a time, and celebrate each achievement along the way. By making progress toward your goals, you'll build confidence and momentum.

9. Celebrate your successes

If you feel that I don't like myself, try to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Whether it's completing a project at work, sticking to a healthy habit, or overcoming a challenge, give yourself credit for your efforts and achievements.

10. Stay in the moment

Practice mindfulness by staying present in the moment and focusing on what's happening right now. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them. Mindfulness can help reduce rumination on negative thoughts and bring a sense of calm and clarity.

11. Talk to someone

Don't be afraid to reach out to friends, family members, or a therapist when you're struggling with negative self-talk. Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can provide perspective, support, and validation.

12. Don't aim for perfection

Accept that nobody's perfect, and that's okay. Embrace your imperfections and mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning. Focus on progress, not perfection, and permit yourself to be human.

13. Take care of yourself

Prioritize self-care activities that nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Taking care of yourself can help boost your mood and resilience.

14. Surround yourself with positive stuff

Surround yourself with positive influences that uplift and inspire you. Listen to uplifting music, read books or watch movies that make you feel good, and surround yourself with people who radiate positivity. Fill your environment with things that bring you joy and encouragement.

15. Imagine yourself succeeding

Visualize yourself achieving your goals and succeeding in whatever you set out to do. Imagine how it would feel to overcome obstacles and accomplish your dreams. Visualization can help motivate and inspire you to take action toward your goals.

16. Learn from your mistakes

Instead of dwelling on past mistakes or failures, view them as valuable learning experiences. Reflect on what you can learn from each setback and how you can use that knowledge to grow and improve. Mistakes are an inevitable part of life, but they don't define your worth or abilities.

17. Stand up for yourself

Assert your needs and boundaries in your relationships and interactions with others. Don't be afraid to speak up for yourself or advocate for what you believe in. Setting healthy boundaries can protect your well-being and self-esteem.

18. Don't compare yourself to others

Avoid comparing yourself to others, as it only leads to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Focus on your journey and progress, and celebrate your unique strengths and accomplishments. Remember that everyone's path is different, and comparison is not healthy.

19. Set limits

Learn to say no to things that drain your energy or make you feel bad about yourself. Set boundaries with people who engage in negative or toxic behavior, and prioritize activities and relationships that bring you joy and fulfillment.

20. Do things you like

Make time for activities and hobbies that bring you happiness and fulfillment. Whether it's painting, hiking, cooking, or playing music, engaging in activities you enjoy can boost your mood and sense of well-being.

21. Be patient

Changing negative self-talk habits takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself as you work toward more positive thinking patterns. Celebrate your progress along the way, and remember that every small step counts toward building a healthier and happier mindset.

When to See a Professional About Negative Self-Talk

If negative self-talk is making it hard for you to feel good about yourself or get through your day, it's a good idea to talk to a professional. This could be a therapist or counselor who can help you find ways to deal with those negative thoughts.

If you're feeling down or having trouble at work, school, or with friends because of these thoughts, it's especially important to reach out for help. They can give you support and tips to feel better and manage those negative thoughts. That’s exactly what our counselors at Now&Me are to do, and get you started on the individual therapy services we offer. Our sessions start at INR 30/- per session, and at the pace that’s comfortable for you. Book your sessions today, using our Now&Me app today!


Negative self-talk can be triggered by stress, criticism, past failures, perfectionism, and underlying mental health issues.

Ground yourself with deep breathing or mindfulness, challenge negative thoughts, distract yourself with enjoyable activities, and use soothing techniques like listening to music.

Some negative self-talk is normal, but excessive or persistent negativity may signal a problem needing attention.

The 3 C's are change, commitment, and consistency, which help to shift negative thoughts.

Negative self-talk is not OCD itself, but it can be a feature of OCD and other mental health conditions, as well as occurring independently.

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