Stop the Negative Self Talk: How to Turn a Negative Thought into a Positive One
That was such a dumb idea. Why would you say that? I wish I looked like her. I was my career looked like hers. I’m fat. I break out like a teenager. Ugh, look at that bald spot.
OMG, stop already.
Do these thoughts sound anything like yours? They seem a lot more harsh when you see them in print, don’t they?
The way we talk about ourselves would be socially (and frankly, humanely) unacceptable to say to another person. Yet we have zero problems saying these awful things about ourselves.
We should talk about ourselves in the same positive, uplifting tone we use with a best friend
It’s hard—really hard, in fact—mainly because we don’t even realize we do it. Each of us experiences over seventy thousand thoughts per day, and it’s easy to let the negative ones escape our attention.
This year, I set a goal to quit any and all negative comments, particularly those I say about myself. And I want you to join me. To hold ourselves accountable, I thought I’d share my strategies for quitting the negative self talk.
How to Quit the Negative Self Talk in 5 Steps
Step 1: Observe Your Thoughts
The first step in quitting negative thoughts is simply to realize you have them.
Our thoughts travel so fast, and at such high volumes, sometimes we don’t have time to acknowledge them. So write them down. Take a few minutes a day—in a very non-judgmental way—to write the thoughts you experience. You’ll be surprised at the things you think about, and even more surprised at how your brain twists an otherwise positive or neutral experience into a negative one.
Do you know what I think about? The likelihood of a very graphic car crash while driving down the highway (we’re talking, some serious Final Destination shit). Or why my mom hasn’t called me back. Or why back acne had to be invented. Are any of these thoughts productive or positive? No. But I have them.
Step 2: Choose a Mantra or Quote that Resonates with You
—And let it guide you. Find something that resonates with you, and repeat it to yourself throughout the day. You can choose a new mantra each day or keep the same one for an extended period of time, and long as it keeps you in a positive mindset.
One of my resolutions for January is to quit comparing myself to others. To help keep that top of mind, I wrote, You are enough in my journal. Whenever I find myself going down the deep dark hole of comparison, I repeat you are enough and push those negative thoughts back.
Step 3: Ask for Support
Remember this: People want to help you (and if they don’t, perhaps you need to rethink who you surround yourself with). If you tell people that quitting negative self talk is something you intend to do, ask them them to hold you accountable.
When I decided I wanted to quit the negative talk, I asked my close friends and boyfriend to call me out on my shit. If I start complaining about myself—no matter if it’s about my hair, outfit, or work ethic—they just say, “Nope; you’re not allowed to say that.”
Step 4: Transform a Negative Thought into a Positive One
This is both the hardest and easiest step in the entire process. Here’s why:
It’s hard to stop ourselves from saying negative things, particularly when it involves a desire for (hopefully) positive change. For example, if you say, “I want to lose weight,” that is a negative thought because you phrase it in a way that leaves you feeling less-than. But, the desire for change—pursuing a healthy lifestyle—is a positive one. Do you see the difference (and why it’s so confusing)?
Here’s the easy part: There are limitless ways to transform a negative thought into a positive one. Continuing with the above example, you could say, “I’m beautiful just the way I am, but I can continue to work on my health and wellness journey.” Those little tweaks in words can really lead to a positive outlook on life.
Step 5: Practice Gratitude Daily
As in, every damn day.
Every day, acknowledge the things you are grateful for in this life. It could be anything—gratitude for your friends, significant other, your inner drive, or the fact that you have gorgeous nails that own a manicure.
Every single night, my boyfriend and I lie in bed and say three things we are grateful for. You’re welcome to steal our practice, or you can choose to practice gratitude in a journal, on a walk, or with your closest friends.
Does the Way You Talk About Yourself Reflect the Positive Outlook You Want to Carry?
The way I talked to myself was nothing compared to how I would talk to my clients, friends, or boyfriend. And I want to change that.
Hopefully you’ll join me. If you have additional tips for transforming negative thoughts into positive ones, please share them below in the comments. And if you want more advice on tips on staying positive, keeping a healthy mindset, and holding yourself accountable, tune into IG TV each morning in January.