Word Power: Overcoming Negative Self-Talk

Positive Self-Talk

Lately, I’ve been monitoring my inner voice. And I’ve noticed that I’m not so kind to myself. The self-talk I use is overwhelmingly negative. My go-to reaction when I make a mistake is to berate myself for my shortcomings. I say things to myself that I would never say to another person. Cruel, cutting remarks. Ugly words that only cement my feelings of inadequacy.

Taking Stock

After realizing I had an issue with negative self-talk, I was left to wonder where these responses come from and what I could do to correct them. I realized it was predominantly because it has gone so long unchallenged. What would it look like if I started intentionally using kinder, more encouraging self-talk?

I’ve decided I’m worth the investment.

In an article for Psychology Today, Gregory L. Jantz Ph.D writes: One of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy is to intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk.” He adds, “When negative events or mistakes happen, positive self-talk seeks to bring the positive out of the negative to help you do better, go further, or just keep moving forward.”

If I want to make my self-talk more positive, I need to be vigilant – to stop and replace these hurtful loops that play in my mind throughout the day.  It’s not about sugarcoating my mistakes, but rather, creating a new lens to view myself through. What would I say to a loved one if she were going through the same thing? Would I let someone I cared for speak about herself negatively? Would I just be silent? Agree? No. I would lift her up. I’d remind her of her wonderful qualities and the things that make her a unique treasure.  

Silencing The Inner Critic

With my newfound awareness of how damaging my negative self-talk can be, I’ve decided to tackle improving it. No easy task. These thoughts have gone unchecked for the past thirty years. But small steps can yield results, and I’ve decided I’m worth the investment.

I am worthy of giving myself respect and encouragement, even though I will make mistakes along the way.

I recently placed a notecard above my bathroom mirror. It contains a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald. It reads: You are the most eloquent statement. Little reminders like this keep me from getting complacent with how I speak to myself. I’m still not to the point where I’m kind to myself 100% of the time, but I’m getting there (and being patient with myself along the way).

Tips To Increase Your Positive Self-Talk

  • Be mindful. Recognize when your self-talk takes a turn for the negative and actively replace the message with a positive one.
  • Surround yourself with meaningful, encouraging memos. Put them in places where you’ll see them often.
    • A bathroom mirror note like the one I mentioned above
    • A Post-it on your computer
    • Your phone background
  • Try meditation.
    • Take 5-10 minutes a day and repeat a mantra of self-love. Something like, “I am worthy. I love myself.” Or some other short message that is meaningful and positive.
    • There are also many guided meditations available for free online. Just do a quick YouTube search for “Positive Affirmations.”  
  • Write a love letter to yourself.  I have always been drawn to writing because it gives me the chance to really reflect and dig deep.  Write out all the amazing qualities you possess. Take your time to really consider and record all of your positive attributes.
  • Learn what is just the result of a bad mood. In an article on how to stop Negative Self Talk, Marissa Laliberte says, “Just as you should give yourself time to cool off before sending an angry email, learn to ignore self-loathing when you’re feeling generally down.”
  • Read books, articles and blogs that promote self-love.

Accepting Imperfection

None of us are perfect. A simple reminder of that fact has been invaluable to me in my struggle to stop holding myself to impossible standards and improve my self-talk. I actively focus on the truth that I am learning and growing. I am worthy of giving myself respect and encouragement, even though I will make mistakes along the way. It’s not a straight line; there are peaks and valleys, but the constant throughout it all is my inner voice. It will always be there. Why not make it kind?


Amy Pedigo is a thirty-something Yankee transplant living in Birmingham, Alabama. She enjoys creating art, volunteering and trying new local cuisines with friends. She is also a proud dog mom to a chihuahua mix, Nemo. She is passionate about women’s issues and is an advocate for human trafficking victims.

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