How to Challenge Negative Self-Talk

Table of Contents

Negative self-talk is the critical and unkind inner voice that tells you things like “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do anything right.”

This type of thinking can make you feel down and can stop you from reaching your goals.

Learning how to challenge negative self-talk is important for your mental health and happiness. Here are 7 steps in this article to help you understand and challenge negative self-talk.

How to Challenge Negative Self-Talk: A person with a thought bubble showing 'I'm not good enough' and 'I am not capable.'

Understanding Negative Self-Talk

Types of Negative Self-Talk:

  1. Filtering: This is when you only focus on the bad parts of a situation and ignore the good parts. For example, if you get many compliments but one person gives you a little criticism, you only remember the criticism.
  2. Personalizing: This is when you blame yourself for things that are not your fault. For example, if a friend is in a bad mood, you think it’s because of something you did.
  3. Catastrophizing: This is when you expect the worst to happen. For example, if you make a small mistake at work, you think you will be fired.
  4. Polarizing: This is when you see things as all good or all bad, with no middle ground. For example, you think you are either a total success or a complete failure.

Identifying Negative Self-Talk (Becoming Aware):

  • Notice Your Thoughts: Start paying attention to your inner voice. When you feel upset or down, try to notice what you’re saying to yourself.
  • Write It Down: Keep a journal and write down the negative thoughts as they happen. This helps you see patterns and understand when and why these thoughts occur.

Strategies to Challenge Negative Self-Talk

1- Questioning Your Thoughts:

Ask yourself:

  • “Is this thought based on facts or feelings?”
  • “Would I say this to a friend?”
  • “Is there a more positive way to look at this situation?”

2- Gathering Evidence:

Look for proof, or find evidence that challenges your negative thought.

For example, if you think, “I always mess up,” list times when you did things well.

3- Reframing:

  • Change Your Perspective: Try to see the situation differently. Instead of thinking, “I failed,” you can think, “I learned something important.”

4- Using Positive Affirmations:

  • Replace negative thoughts with positive statements. For example:
  • “I am capable and strong.”
  • “I can handle this.”

5- Practice Self-Compassion (Be Kind to Yourself):

  • Self-Kindness: Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend.
  • Mindfulness: Stay present and observe your thoughts without judgment. This helps you avoid getting lost in negativity.
  • Seek Support: Talk to friends, family, or a therapist if you need help.

6- Developing a Positive Mindset

Develop a positive mindset by following the given ways.

Gratitude Practice:

  • Keep a Gratitude Journal: Write down things you are thankful for each day. This helps shift your focus to positive aspects of life.


  • Take Care of Your Body and Mind: Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and do things you enjoy.
How to Challenge Negative Self-Talk: A person meditating, representing mindfulness and addressing negative self-talk.

Set Realistic Goals:

  • Achievable Goals: Set small, realistic goals and celebrate your progress. This builds confidence and reduces negative self-talk.

7- Practical Exercises

Thought Records:

  • Template: Use a simple template to document your negative thoughts, the situation that triggered them, the evidence for and against the thoughts, and a more balanced conclusion.


  • Imagine Positive Outcomes: Spend a few minutes each day visualizing positive outcomes for situations you worry about. This can help you build a more positive mindset.


Challenging negative self-talk involves becoming aware of your thoughts, questioning and reframing them, and practicing self-compassion. By using positive affirmations, keeping a gratitude journal, and setting realistic goals, you can develop a more positive mindset.

Challenging negative self-talk takes time and effort, but it is worth it. Remember, everyone has negative thoughts sometimes, but they don’t have to control your life. change takes time and patience

Be patient with yourself and keep practicing these strategies to challenge negative self-talk and improve mental health.

If you need more help, there are many resources available, such as books, websites, and mental health professionals. You can change your inner dialogue and improve your well-being with persistence and support.

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