If you’ve ever made a mistake and then ruminated on it for days, you already know what negative self-talk is. It is known to most of us, and yet it can be incredibly damaging to our ability to advance in life. It can feel like we don’t know how to control it, stop it or overcome it. Fortunately, awareness of it is the first step towards knowing how to stop negative self-talk. For more information, examples and effects of negative self-talk, as well as how to stop it, keep reading.
What Is Negative Self-Talk?
I will never be good enough. I’m not smart enough, skinny enough, confident enough. I’m an idiot, people don’t like me, nobody cares about what I think, I will never amount to anything at all.
You are not alone.
Negative self-talk is a complex, habitual mental behavior that can evolve over time from a realistic appraisal of a situation to a spiraling, irrational and fear-induced paranoia. In a nutshell, negative self-talk is understood as any internal monologue you have with yourself that discourages you from believing in yourself or trying to reach your potential.
We are all in constant communication with at least one person all day long: ourselves. Psychologists call this “self-talk,” or our internal monologue. Additionally, we all doubt, fear, worry and stress. These are normal human emotions and experiences that can have reasonable explanations. When our internal monologue transforms from reasonable concerns to a constant barrage of degrading comments, you stunt your emotional and mental growth and, instead, fuel a self-destructive mindset that keeps you from being at peace with yourself.
A little self-criticism can be a good thing: we all need a reality check from time to time, to remind ourselves to be humble and to try and do better the next time. However, there is a difference between, “I did not pass this test; I should study my mistakes and try to improve,” and “I did not pass this test; I am a failure, why did I even bother? I’ll probably never be good at anything.” The first is a realistic account of an unfortunate life event, while the second is your inner critic belittling yourself and diminishing your drive or ability to improve.
To know how to stop negative self-talk, it can be helpful to identify negative self-talk examples, features and effects.
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