Stop Negative Self Talk

Portland City Ring

Negative self talk is a common occurrence for many of us.  Whether it is out loud, in our head, sarcastic or serious, it needs to stop.  Lea McLeod, M.A. Job Therapist at, where she helps people build a better relationship with their jobs, gives light to this issue in her recent blog post “How Not to Break Your Own Heart” : “It’s natural and necessary to reflect on experiences and identify opportunities to improve.  It makes no sense, however, to pour such a serious buzz kill on your own psyche.”  When we make harsh comments to ourselves after a mistake (“I am so stupid. Only I would make that mistake.  I am not qualified enough for this.”) we do ourselves no favors.  Lea gives a strong plan of action to turn the negative self talk off and invest the energy into actual improvement:

How Not to Break Your Own Heart by Lea McLeod

Do you ever have days where you need to read that little piece of inspiration?

It’s timely for me, because over the past couple of weeks I’ve worked with clients who have unleashed some very unkind words on themselves.

It’s natural and necessary to reflect on experiences and identify opportunities to improve. It makes no sense, however, to pour such serious buzz kill on your own psyche.

  • I’m such an idiot.
  • I’ll probably never get that right.
  • I can’t believe what a screw up I am.

Would you ever make those statements to others? Probably not. So why would you inflict them on yourself?

What you focus on grows.

When you focus on these negative self-ideals, you’re feeding and reinforcing them. And you get these nasty side effects:

  • You tend to believe what you say! If you say, “I’ll never get this right!” you most likely won’t.
  • You create anxiety and stress because you’re focused on what’s wrong with you, rather than what’s right with you.
  • You telegraph to others the message that you don’t believe in yourself. How confident will they be in you?

None of these consequences will help you make positive shifts you need at work, get what you want in life, or take you closer to your achieving your goals.

Change it up

When you’re in the workplace trying to change outcomes, build better relationships and tackle difficult situations, you need every constructive tool at your disposal.

If you struggle with negative self-talk, take these steps to make a Positive Shift:

  1. Make a decision, and a commitment, to change this thought pattern.
  2. Start observing each time you do it. Being aware of our behavior is the first step to changing it.
  3. Get a notebook. When you have a negative thought:  notice, write it down, and let it go.
  4. Once you begin seeing your patterns, develop more compassionate thoughts and replace the negative with positive ones. For example, when tempted to say “I’m such an idiot,” stop, notice, and shift. Instead, say, “I did my best on that and I can see where I will make an improvement next time.”  Or, “If I practice that 5 or 10 more times, I’ll be much better at it.”

If you struggle with negative self-talk, challenge yourself to create this positive shift in your life. And if you know someone who needs to hear this message, please share it with him or her!

Warm wishes and thanks, as always, for reading.


One response to “Stop Negative Self Talk

  1. I love this! It is so helpful to identify the casual ways that we create our own misery-and thinking about it in ways that you can really apply changes. Made me think about another great article I read: It is written in such a way that you feel inspired to change.

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