6 Lessons on How to Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

How frequently do we tell ourselves that we’re stupid, can’t do anything right, or aren’t good enough? For some of us, it has become like second nature that we’re often unaware we are saying these things. And likely, many of us have talked to ourselves like this for quite some time. But becoming more conscious of our negative self-talk is one of the most important lessons we can learn to improve our mental well-being.

What is Negative Self-Talk?

Negative self-talk is about turning unhealthy thoughts, feelings, or emotions inwardly, such as self-hatred, shame, or disgust. For example, you may think you’re a failure if you don’t pass your math test or land the desired job.

We’ve all had those occasional, harmless moments where we might call ourselves clumsy for dropping something. Still, constant negative self-talk is problematic and can become a vicious cycle, impacting our self-esteem.

Why Do We Struggle to Eliminate Negative Self-Talk?

Negative self-talk often stems from low self-esteem, lack of confidence, depression, or anxiety. Therefore, we must understand the reasons for this behaviour to eliminate it.

Childhood Experiences – Children who grow up in an often ridiculed environment are more prone to suffer from poor self-image and inwardly repeat these patterns. These experiences may include family abuse or neglect, or school bullying.

Overly self-judgemental – Everyone makes mistakes. Still, some people take that one shortcoming and judge themselves too harshly rather than seeing themselves as a typical human being who makes mistakes.

Perfectionism – Most individuals are content with accomplishing simple things. But others may feel simple is insufficient and that they must achieve “perfection” to be satisfied. Although, no human can achieve perfection.  

Self-preservation – Surprisingly, some people aren’t willing to eliminate negative self-talk or may find it comforting. For instance, suppose you have a depressed individual who isn’t accustomed to feeling good about themself. In that case, they may continue with their negative self-talk because it’s familiar; despite it being unhelpful.

Ways to Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk has a way of trapping people in a web of fear. For instance, they withdraw from their first dance class or avoid going out with friends because they fear how they might look to others. However, feeding on these emotions will only prevent a person from thriving. So, let’s learn how to eliminate negative self-talk.

1. Pay attention to what you tell yourself.

Negative self-talk serves no purpose but robs people of their happiness, leaves them stuck in their past, or impacts their relationships. For example, do you automatically call yourself stupid for everything? If so, acknowledge what you said without judgement and use that awareness as a reminder to speak less harshly to yourself.

2. Treat yourself like you would a friend.

Imagine your friend belittling themself because their partner broke off their engagement. Would you tell them they must have done something wrong, or they deserved it? You would try to boost their spirits. Yet, why are you so quick to judge yourself and can’t give yourself grace?

For example, did you try your best if you scored low on a test? If so, maybe the test was challenging, or you had test anxiety. In comparison, if you didn’t study, you can hopefully learn from this experience and change future methods.

3. Challenge your negative self-talk.

We often mistake our negative self-talk for a fact. However, do you ever challenge your thoughts? For example, take the individual who didn’t land the job. Was that because they were a failure, or was there another reason? Perhaps they had the skills, but the employer hired someone more qualified. Or maybe they lacked the qualifications. Still, that doesn’t mean they’re incompetent. Therefore, it’s essential to challenge your negative self-talk.

For instance, you can ask yourself if you’re the only one who hasn’t landed a job. Then, see if you can find alternative ways to look at things. Could you maybe work on gaining more experience and reapplying down the road? Could you try another company offering a similar position? Or can you find a job you are more familiar with in the meantime?

4. Focus on what you do right.

We often spend too much time focusing on what we do “wrong” and forget to focus on what we do right. So, maybe it’s time to take a mental note or write down a list of things that make you feel accomplished.

Accomplishing something doesn’t have to entail running a marathon, either. It can be getting to an appointment on time, going to bed earlier, or remembering to take out the trash. It may not sound like much. Still, you might be surprised how much you’ve accomplished when tallying a list.

5. Surround yourself with peers.

Struggling with negative self-talk can cause people to isolate themselves and give them too much time to reflect on their perceived internal flaws. Therefore, surrounding yourself with people who can support you can make all the difference. One such place is Barty’s Adventures, where they hold special events and adventures to help men feel better about themselves by keeping active, thus improving mental health. Barty – We Are A Mental Health Initiative

6. Seek Treatment

Some people may continue to struggle with negative self-talk despite their best efforts. Therefore, seeking therapy might help you to discover why these behaviours occur. A therapist can help you change your thought patterns, build self-esteem, and problem-solve to prevent further occurrences.

Therapy through BetterHelp.com/Barty can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options to communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay not to be okay, and you are no less of a human for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.

To receive 25% off your first month, head to BetterHelp.com/Barty

Feel free to drop by if you’d like to chat and just say, ‘Hey Barty,’ in strict confidence, and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

Give it Time

Changing negative self-talk can be challenging, especially if you’ve been putting yourself down for a long time. Therefore, it will take time, patience, practice, and support. So, don’t give up trying because you deserve to feel good enough.

Sandy Glover


Sandy is the resident mental health professional at Barty. She previously worked as a therapist, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in counselling. Sandy has transitioned to becoming a peer presenter at several mental health settings through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Her passion for mental health is evident in her writing as a subject matter expert who draws from personal experience, professional expertise, and education to help eliminate stigma.

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