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3 Tips for Ending Negative Self-talk3 Tips for Ending Negative Self-talk


Woman staring at herself in the mirror

Negative self-talk is that little voice inside your head telling you that you can't do it. These self-defeating thoughts are not only inaccurate, but they also limit your potential. Take control of your negative self-talk, switch to positive affirmation, and start reaching your goals.

Identify the type

The Mayo Clinic identifies four types of negative self-talk: filtering, personalizing, catastrophizing, and polarizing.

  • Filtering — You focus on the negative. Example: You gained one pound this week. You focus on this and ignore that you have already lost 25 lbs.
  • Personalizing — It's all your fault. Example: Your workout partner cancels at the last minute due to a sick child. You think the real reason is that she doesn’t enjoy exercising with you.
  • Catastrophizing — The worst will always happen. Example: This weekend, you must attend a birthday party and a cookout. You believe it will be a weight loss disaster before it starts — there will be no healthy food options, you’ll have no willpower, and you’ll have to skip your workout.
  • Polarizing — You must be perfect. Example: You felt sluggish during your workout and didn’t push as hard as usual; therefore, you failed the entire week.

Determine the source

Does someone in your life approach situations with negativity? Has this rubbed off on you? Sometimes negative self-talk doesn't originate with us. It is difficult to be around negative people and not adopt the same attitude. It is also difficult to overcome negative comments from others that may stem from their insecurity. Don't allow their comments to become your negative self-talk. Discuss the issue, and try to get to the source of the negativity. If that doesn’t work, you may need to spend time away from this person so you can change your outlook and approach your goals in a positive way.

Change your outlook

Changing your outlook and attitude means you must stay on top of negative thoughts. Pause and check your thoughts regularly throughout the day. Did you just criticize the way you looked when you saw your reflection? Stop the negativity, and replace it with something positive.

When you are tempted to react with a negative comment, assess the situation. Is your negativity based on fact, or are you jumping to conclusions? Giving in to a cookie at the office may not be the healthiest choice, but it will only add 200 calories to your week. You can cut back the next day or push harder in your next workout. One slip-up is not going to ruin all of your efforts.

Talking to yourself in the mirror or repeating a mantra in your head may make you feel silly, but it does help. Look yourself in the eye and say, "You look great in that shirt!" Tell yourself throughout the day, "I am strong, I can make this change, and I deserve it." Positive self-talk can have a huge impact on your overall attitude and determination.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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