3 Steps to Stop Negative Self-Talk

Updated: Apr 20

"To forever extinguish negativity

is not the goal;

negative self talk is, like all pain,

useful information.

It awakens in us the desire to change.

Thus, the goal is not perfect positivity,

it is understanding, humility and incremental growth."

-Tj Meagher


“I could never do that. Don’t even try. You’ll make a fool of yourself.”

“Why can’t you just get it right the first time? What’s wrong with me? I’m so stupid.”

“Don’t bother. They don’t even like you. Just let them be.”

“I don’t deserve happiness. Just look at what I’ve done.”

- Examples submitted by my Instagram followers

Any of these ring a bell?

Almost certainly one will.

If you’re feeling brave, please share in the comments

the negative self-talk you hear or find to be common.

It will help others feel less alone.


You have become an unknowing victim to your own negative programming.

it wasn’t your fault.

You learned this behavior in your developing years;

you internalized

the doubtful look of a nervous parent,

the judgement of a frustrated teacher

the disapproval of the cool classmates.

The external voices have become an internal one.

It has become your burden to bear. So, it is your responsibility to do something about it.

It’s no longer your parents that stop you from being yourself,

no longer the teacher who judges’s you…

It’s your creeping doubt that restricts you.

It’s your own faith in your limits that cripples your potential.



Until you choose to do something about it,

you will remain a victim to these unhelpful beliefs,

which steal chance, and waste potential.

You will repeat,

and repeat,

and repeat,

the same mistakes,

as a response to the same narratives in your head,

and unknowingly come to know nothing else

but the preconceived limitations

you have adopted and kept since adolescence….


“We need to cultivate a voice which separates achievement from love. That reminds us that we may be worthy of love even if we fail. And that being a winner is only one part, and not necessarily the most important part, of one’s identity.”


I want you to imagine what it would feel like, if the next time a negative thought popped into your head, you were able to recognize it instantly, know where it’s coming from, and be able to replace it with a positive, empowering interpretation.

What would that do for your self-esteem?

How would you feel about yourself, if you reprogrammed your mind for confidence and positivity? What kind of job would you stretch for?

What relationships would you cultivate out of this new paradigm? What kind of relationships would you end? What hobbies would you try out? How would your life be lived bigger, more passionate, if unencumbered by the chains of limiting self-talk?

Envision it, feel it, step into the first person perspective of that new self and feel the sensations!...


how important is that solution?

Is it important enough to take action on?

Is it important enough to make a commitment to this vision, right now?


If it is, then here’s you can take the first step…

You must begin by understanding self-talk.

The way you talk to yourself is varying in form, and that’s great. It only becomes a problem when you get stuck in an unhelpful form of it. When you unknowingly trap yourself in one pattern of thought, the response you have becomes automatically filtered and dictated through that lens.

When you are stuck in one lens, this is called Cognitive distortion.

Negative self-talk is a cognitive distortion

which twists reality to prove and perpetuate

the negative beliefs you have about yourself.

Can somebody say self-sabotage?

So now that you understand how you maintain self-talk, let’s discover how to beat it.


Phase 1: Train Awareness

This is, arguably, the hardest part.

It requires you to face what you don’t want to see within yourself.

It’s much easier to see negativity and self-limiting within others.

But when your thoughts and attention are consumed within a single narrative,

it’s pretty difficult to take the box off of your head,

especially when it’s scary to do so.

Ok, you can begin by learning the forms of negative self-talk:

  1. Fortune telling (Where you predict your future based on past failures)

Sounds like: “I would never be able to do that.”

  1. Mind reading (Where you project insecurities onto others, and believe they think ill of you in the same way you think ill of yourself)

Sounds like: “She thinks I’m stupid.”

  1. Magnification (Where you exaggerate the importance of a mistake)

Sounds like: “I stuttered twice. I did such a terrible presentation.”

  1. Personalization (Where you think your failures say something about your self-worth)

Sounds like: “Look at me, I couldn’t even submit the project in time. I’m a loser.”

  1. Should statements (Where you hold yourself to unrealistic expectations or only one way of being).

Sounds like: “This shouldn’t be taking me this long. ”

These are a few common ones.

If you’re feeling brave, I challenge you to share with us the form of self-talk you recognize in yourself.

Next, start the game of recognizing and labeling the cognitive distortion within yourself as soon as you can.

Gradually, catch it the next day, then try for 3 hours after, then 30 minutes after, then 5, then as you're saying it, Then as you're thinking it.

If you can catch the negative self-talk in the moment, you unlock a new freedom: the freedom to influence your actions and choose what to do with it.

Last stage of this phase is to raise self-awareness

By discerning the common triggers in your life, and the common form of negative self talk that you respond with, you can anticipate it negative self-talk. When you can anticipate it, it’s going to feel much less frustrating, and more surmountable.

Phase 2: Generate alternative narratives

When you can recognize your self-talk as it’s occurring, you can realize what may be an automatic response, and decouple it from what is fact.

You don’t believe everything you think.

The first thought is not always the right one.

If you can remind yourself that the story in your head is an interpretation,