Negative-self talk can take many forms, often acting as our “inner critic” and can damage our mental health and well-being if it becomes frequent.
What forms can negative self-talk take?
Psychologists have come up with terms to describe common different categories of negative self-talk. Here are a few of these categories:
Blaming – Blaming yourself for every problem. For example, if your friends have to cancel on plans, you blame yourself because you think that they do not want to be around you.
Polarizing – This is also called “black-or-white thinking” and refers to the tendency to think everything is either all good or all bad, with no middle ground – you think that you are either perfect or a complete failure.
Filtering – Focusing on the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out all of the positive ones.
Never and always – If you make a mistake, you assume that you always mess things up and that you can never get it right.
Once you’ve identified negative thoughts, you can move onto trying to pick them out and replacing them with more positive ones.
Examples of turning negative thoughts into positive thoughts:
Negative thought: I can’t do it because I’ve never done something like this before.
Positive thought: It’s an opportunity to learn something new.
Negative thought: I always mess everything up.
Positive thought: I am human, and all humans make mistakes sometimes. I am doing my best.
Negative thought: I completely bombed my presentation/project. I’m a failure.
Positive thought: I did okay on my presentation/project, but it didn’t live up to my full potential. Next time I will work a little harder and prepare by doing ______.
Negative thought: It’s too risky.
Positive thought: It’s worth taking a chance.
Of course, this may require practice, however fine-tuning your thinking can have great outcomes for your health and overall well-being.