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  • Writer's pictureSFI Care Solutions

Negative Self-Talk and How to Overcome it

Do you ever find yourself saying things like, ‘I can't do this,’ or ‘I’m not good enough’? If so, don't worry; you're not alone. Negative self-talk is surprisingly common and most people will struggle with it at some point during their life.

Negative self-talk may take a grounded form, such as, I am certain I will fail at this so there’s no point trying; a personal attack, I never do anything right; or even a fear-based fantasy, I’ll never achieve anything in life. Sometimes these criticisms may parrot voices from your life, such as a hyper-critical parent or friend. Whatever form it takes, negative self-talk is likely to dent your confidence, decrease your ability to reach your goals, skew your interpretation of your own potential, limit your thinking, increase levels of anxiety, affect your mental health, and even cause relationship difficulties. For these reasons, it’s important to know how to deal with your inner critic.

Acknowledge the critic

Teach yourself to take a moment when the negative self-talk begins. Listen to what you are saying to yourself — would you say the same to a friend or relative?

Make the change

Adjust the fears and irrational thoughts from negative to neutral. Instead of telling yourself you are unable to do something, tell yourself it will be a challenge. Use positive, powerful phrases, such as, I prefer… instead of I hate… .

Take your critic to account

Challenge your critic. Ask yourself how true the accusations or thoughts are. Negative self-talk is, at best, an exaggeration and by analysing the truth behind it, you can remove its damaging effects.

From a distance

When the self-talk begins, remove yourself and try to look at yourself, and your challenges, from a different perspective. Does it matter if you don’t achieve 100% in a task, or if you have to ask for help with something? How will this affect you in five years?


Tell a friend how you are feeling. Sometimes saying things out loud can put them in perspective, and a friend’s thoughts on your achievements and potential can help to diminish the negativity.

Negative self-talk can be especially difficult if you’re dealing with depression, low self esteem, or other mental health issues. If your thoughts are overwhelming or you are struggling to manage, please contact your GP or other health professional.

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