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Unclutter My Mind: Tips for Overcoming Negative Self-Talk

How To, Insights

young troubled woman using laptop at home with both hands holding her face between them

You hear that voice- it’s inside your head- and it tells you that you are not good enough, smart enough, or capable enough. That voice seems to focus on every mistake you have made.

You hear that voice- it’s inside your head- and it tells you that you are not good enough, smart enough, or capable enough. That voice seems to focus on every mistake you have made and makes you doubt your abilities.

This voice is your inner critic, and it can be a powerful force that holds you back from reaching your full potential. That inner critic is a bully that deals in fear and intimidation.

You can stand up to it by reframing your negative self-talk thoughts and practicing positive, realistic self-talk. There are strategies that will help you build a positive mindset and pursue your goals with confidence.

So, if you are ready to stop giving credibility to that negative voice and start believing in yourself, keep reading for some valuable insights and practical tips.

Understanding the origin of negative self-talk

You are uniquely and wonderfully made. There is no one else on the planet that is exactly like you. While you may believe this in your head, it doesn’t always translate to your heart.

All of us are constantly questioning where we belong, how we fit in, and how we measure up compared to others.

You may have had experiences in your past where someone cursed your identity by telling you that you were not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. Or, this may have been your perception.

When a seed is planted and you start to believe it, experiences that follow tend to reinforce the seed of this belief. Our brain tries to associate a thought with something it already “knows”. Our brains are good information gatherers but not good concluders.

Photo of a seedling sprouting up through concrete and broken tile.

To rewire the original wrong conclusions and reframe the thought patterns that follow, you may need the help of a therapist or a coach.

They can see your patterns and can help you objectively face the truth and hold you accountable to form new patterns and beliefs.

The role of a coach is to help you identify the lies you are believing- not by telling you what to do, but by asking the questions that help you see a different perspective and draw a different conclusion.

(click on the link to learn more about what a coach does for you)

Understanding the impact of negative self-talk

Negative self-talk can have a significant impact on your mental, emotional, and physical health. Your body talks to you.

A tear trickles down your cheek when you are moved by a touching scene in a movie. There is a knot in your stomach and your heart beats faster when you are about to go on stage or you are asked an impromptu question in front of a crowd.

Even longer-term physical symptoms often resolve when the hopelessness of a negative outlook is turned around. Your body is telling you the stress and fear are gone.

Negative self-talk can lead to a lack of motivation, procrastination, feelings of worthlessness, and low self-esteem. Either you are afraid to try anything because of a fear of failure, or you won’t pull the trigger on anything until it’s perfect.

If you are like me, you may suffer from “procrastiplanning”; spending all of your time on the perfect plan that you never implement. Reality may not live up to what’s on paper. The planning feels controllable, putting it out there does not.

We think our safe little box is manageable but, if it isolates us, it can lead to anxiety and depression.

Recognizing common types of negative self-talk

There are several common types of negative self-talk, including:

  • Personalizing: Taking the blame for things that are out of your control.
  • Catastrophizing: Assuming the worst thing that could happen will happen.
  • Overgeneralizing: Concluding that something negative (or your negative perception of it) applies to all areas of your life.
  • Inability to see the positive: Reframing your successes, achievements, or positive qualities as insignificant.
  • Labeling: Defining yourself by something that you have failed at or made a mistake with. You don’t feel you are as good at something compared to someone else.

It’s important to recognize these types of negative self-talk so you can replace them with an imperfect, but wonderful version of the real you.

Strategies for recognizing and silencing that inner critic

You can start right now to recognize and silence that deceiving inner critic. The first step is to recognize and identify your own patterns.

What are the thoughts that are going through your head when you are feeling down, stressed, or anxious?

Are they true?

Helpful or harmful?

Necessary for the situation?

Keep a journal to write down your thoughts and the emotions associated with them. Do you see a pattern?

I like to use the voice memo feature on my phone to capture an insight as things pop up and then write about them later. You are actually talking to yourself out loud on the voice memo and it will be eye-opening when you listen to your thoughts and put them on paper.

By recognizing your negative thought patterns, you can start to challenge them and replace them with more realistic and empowering truths.

Positive self-talk seems like the anecdote for negative self-talk. There are a million mindset and positive affirmation guides out there. But, if it feels to you like the affirmations are a lie that is covering up a bigger lie, it won’t get you anywhere.

You can use the 5-whys exercise here to discover what’s really behind that wrong belief. It may help to have someone work through this with you if you are feeling really stuck.

Mindfulness practices can also be helpful in overcoming negative self-talk. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment.

When you’re mindful, you can observe your negative self-talk without getting caught up in it.

When your mind and emotions are spinning out of control, it’s because the part of your brain (the danger-sensing fight-or-fight part) will tell you to run away and avoid the feelings at all costs.

Here are some ways to engage the other half of your brain:

  • Taking a few deep, slow breaths
  • Journaling (feeling and hearing the pen on paper)
  • Praying
  • Grounding (focus on the feeling of your feet on the floor, your back on the chair, and your hands on your lap)

That’s a good first step, but not the final step.

Negative self-talk is not logical

I get this anxious feeling when I can’t figure something out. My back and shoulders tighten up as I feel my frustration rising.

I hate feeling incompetent!

Now, logically, I know as a college-educated entrepreneur that is fairly tech savvy and knows that everything is figure-out-able, I should tell myself to calm down already.

But instead, my brain reminds me of the time I was 8 and my mom asked me to get something out of the freezer.

In the basement of our old east coast house, there was a chest-style freezer where the overflow groceries were stored. My mom wanted me to get a frozen roast out of the basement freezer for dinner.
She told me exactly where it was- on the left, toward the back, under the big bag of frozen peas. It was even labeled “roast” written in black Sharpie on the butcher paper.

I went down the stairs to get it, opened the freezer and I couldn’t find it
So I went up the stairs and told my mom.

She marched herself and me back down the stairs, opened the freezer, and grabbed the package marked “roast” that was on the left, toward the back, under the peas.

My mom didn’t call me incompetent, but that’s how her frustration with me made me feel.

Final thoughts

Negative self-talk can be a powerful force that holds us back from reaching our full potential. it doesn’t have to be that way.

Once we understand the origins and impact of our negative self-talk patterns, we can move in a positive direction starting today.

Don’t let negative self-talk steal your dreams because the rest of us need what you have to offer.

Remember, overcoming negative self-talk is a process, and it takes time and practice. But with patience and persistence, you can build a more hopeful mindset and pursue your dreams with confidence.

Do you need help overcoming negative self-talk and finding your real voice? I have 5 questions that you can work through

Get my FREE 5 Question Guide to Unclutter Your Mind, Get Rid of the Noise, Get On With Your Dream

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hey there, I'm valerie

Let’s help you find your voice so you can step into your next chapter with confidence.

about me



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