Proven Ways To Eliminate Negative Self-Talk


Written by: Zorana Mihailovic


There are proven ways to eliminate negative self-talk. You are your own worst critic. And you are the person that can destroy your confidence and happiness in an instant. 

There is being objective about your flaws and analyzing the mistakes you made. But there is also tearing yourself down with negative self-talk. 

Luckily there are ways to stop doing this to yourself. And no mumbo-jumbo – all of the suggestions are backed by scientific research and taken from peer-reviewed studies. 

So, take a step to more positive and brighter you.

What are proven ways to eliminate negative self-talk?

1 – Stay Busy

Keeping yourself busy is is one of the proven ways to eliminate negative self-talk. If you have some extra free time, it is easy to fill it with some negativity. Again, the solution is obvious – stay busy!

Doing something productive or learning a new skill are always the best options [1].

The attack comes from two fronts. First, you have less time and headspace for unwanted thoughts. Second, once you see the fruits of your labor, you get to feel component, smart, and successful – show yourself that you are not as useless as you thought. 

Just make sure that this new activity is not a new excuse to be hard on yourself. While you are busy, make sure to stay healthy. You may find out more about How What You Eat Affects Your Mental Health.


2 – Forget Perfection

It doesn’t exist. And you seeking it will only lead to misery and frustration.

No one is perfect. We are not meant to be it. Our flaws make us unique, interesting, and beautiful. Chasing perfection is only inviting a lot of misery into your life [2].

Every single study on perfectionism has found a strong connection between it and poor mental health. Perfectionists are the most likely to engage in negative self-talk. 

Take a moment and accept that you have flaws, that you can’t be best in everything. 

If you are willing to tackle it head-on, take a piece of paper and write everything down. List every single thing you berate yourself for. The size of the list might end up looking ridiculous. Some of the items will not seem as daunting. And there is a very good chance that you will see what you have written down and realize that things are not that bad – you might see that some of the things you are fretting over are the things that make you special. 

And hopefully, you will see how much time and emotion you are wasting on all this negativity. 


3 – Breathe 

Proven Ways To Eliminate Negative Self-TalkAnother one of the proven ways to eliminate negative self-talk is to simply breathe. In the past couple of years, more and more researchers are paying attention to all the ways breathing exercises may improve our mental health. It has shown to be very effective with anxiety and lowering stress levels [3], but it can also help switch off negative thoughts. 

When you are concentrating on your breath, your mind slowly clears of everything else.

Also, if you tend to whip yourself up into a full panic attack due to your negative self-talk, the 478 breathing exercise can bring you back from the ledge. Inhale for four seconds, hold for seven, and then exhale for 8. Repeat as many times it takes to calm yourself.

The same breathing technique can help clear your mind and send you into peaceful and restorative sleep. 


4 – Analyze the Voices

Whose voice is that anyway? Is it yours or is it the voice of your boss, parents, even your school bully? No one is born thinking that they are inept, so those thoughts have to come from somewhere else. 

We have long known that our community has a hand in shaping our self-image [4]. Everything that surrounds us is trying to tell us who and what we are supposed to be. The greatest life skill you will ever pick up is the ability to tune out the noise. 

So, sit down and figure out where are these thoughts coming from. If they are someone else’s, is their opinion that important? It probably isn’t – the only time criticism is valid is when it’s constructive. 

If their words are helping you improve your life, thank them. If they are just making you beat yourself up, learn to ignore them.


5 – Talk to a Stranger

If you need to remove yourself from your environment, why not strike a conversation with a complete stranger? Psychologists have found many benefits in disobeying our parents on “don’t talk to strangers” rule [5].

During your commute, in a queue, or sharing a bench in the park – you get to talk to someone who has no expectations of you. There is no need to be perfect, so you can take a break. 

Once you feel that lightness from not pushing or punishing yourself all the time, you will try to have that feeling again and again. 

On the other hand, strangers can be far more objective than the people around us. Your friends may always tell you that you are great already, but it’s easy to believe they are just telling you what you want to hear. A stranger has nothing to gain from lying to you.


6 – Gratitude 

Practicing gratitude has helped many people live more positive and fulfilling lives [6]. It has become a part of treatment for clinical depression, as well as a way for everyone to live happier lives. 

The process is simple – make a habit of taking a moment every day to figure out what you are thankful for. You can write it down, or just meditate on it. 

It’s easy for us to remember all the bad things that have happened while forgetting the good ones. The aim here is to remind ourselves of those good things.

So what if you are not fluid in French? Be grateful for all other skills you have AND your understanding that there is something else you can learn.


7 – Positivity

If the change can’t happen from within, it will help to work on the world around you. At least, you can try and get rid of as many things that harm you. On the other hand, when you surround yourself with things and people that are positive and encouraging, you will easily beat negative self-talk.

It might seem corny, but go ahead and post a lot of notes around your mirror reminding you of all the things you are good at. Watch a movie about the underdog coming on top. Go for a walk in your favorite park. Have regular appointments with people who make you laugh and pamper you. Do whatever makes you inspired and happy. These are effective and proven ways to eliminate negative self-talk.


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