Prevention: Combat Negative Self-Talk

Having a safe place to call home begins with being a safe place to call home. Being a safe place begins with being gentle with ourselves and healing our mental space. We do this by questioning the negative self-talk that is happening inside our heads. Research has shown that almost 80% of the commentary that is running through our minds is negative. And worse than that these thoughts are repetitive. It is downright obnoxious to hear unwelcome criticism all day and fortunately there are tools to combat negative self-talk.

Now, there are some of us who do not have this problem and to you I say, congratulations! Pop over and read another post because you have already skipped this level. Research has shown that not everyone has an internal monologue, let alone a negative commenter that opines on every choice we make from which shirt to wear to how we drive. If you’re interested in learning more about this phenomenon in layman’s terms IFL Science has a great article on it.

For those of us with that ongoing negative stream of consciousness it is important to question your inner bully. Basic questions can quickly derail this voice. And beyond derailment you may be able to free yourself for the repetitive negative messaging. You can ask, is what they are saying true? Would you let someone talk to your best friend or child like that? If you wouldn’t, it’s time to question that inner bully and make them prove what they’re saying is true. Spoiler – it isn’t.

To get out of this negative mindset I find it easier to start by bringing my attention to the present moment. We cannot solve the problem in the same state we created it. Try some of the following and go with whatever works best for you.

Breathe deeply


Take a 20 minute walk

Whatever helps you get away from the situation for a moment and give yourself the gift of fresh air and a fresh perspective. 

When you’re ready the following tools can help you to question your own inner monologue.* The best way I have found to do this is by writing. Ask your inner bully questions and write back the answers you receive. If something is not true, call them on it and see what they say. Make time to do this before you’re feeling at your lowest. Like an oil change, an intervention every so often is much easier than a full engine overhaul. This way as your inner bully attempts to build momentum, or get in the way of your success, you already know the tricks it will use. 

You also quickly realize that this voice is not speaking the truth about you. Recognizing that the voice, even though it is in your own head, is not honest makes a big difference in how you feel when you hear it. A lot like medical advice, from a trained physician familiar with your health history is appreciated. Medical advice from a stranger on the street or the gas station attendant may be suspect. 

When you recognize that just because you think something, that doesn’t make it true, you free yourself to believe the real and good things about yourself. 

When your head is a healthy and supportive place to be then you can move mountains. The disappointing news is that that voice never goes away. But when you stop responding by feeling worse about yourself it gets quieter and you are free. When you combat your negative self-talk you no longer need to live in negativity. And you are no longer held back from pursuing your goals because a voice in your head told you not to. You take away the power of that voice to limit your growth. 

We are all spending more time with ourselves these days and having a practical conversation with your inner bully is a quick way to set new ground rules, to reframe the conversation and make your mental space a comfortable and healthy place to be rather than the first place you hear negative feedback. Give yourself the gift of creating a healthy headspace and see if it doesn’t shift your perspective and your life.

How have you found ways to ignore or get through the negativity of your inner bully? What steps do you take to remind yourself that what you are hearing from your inner critic is not necessarily true?

*As always, please seek the help of a professional if you don’t feel comfortable taking on this exercise on your own. We can all benefit from professional guidance and assistance when focusing on our mental health.