I have always been really hard on myself and I always feel like I should be working harder or doing more. I’ve been working really hard over the past year to have more positive self-talk and not spend so much time thinking negative thoughts about myself. This has really helped me manage my depression and anxiety because I’m not so focused on everything I don’t like about myself all the time. If you’re struggling with your mental health I hope these tips will help you too.
Identify Where You Struggle
Is there a particular area of your life that triggers critical self-talk? It could be that you really beat yourself up if you make a mistake at work or you get really nasty if you mess up on your diet. Write out a list of times you can remember having negative thoughts about yourself. Start paying attention throughout the day of what your internal dialogue is. It’s easy to use negative self-talk and not even notice it after a period of time. Take note of any particular areas like relationships, body image, career and figure out which ones you struggle with so you can start to change your internal dialogue. It can be difficult to tune into your thoughts if you’re not used to paying attention to what you think about. Try journaling about how you feel about yourself and your life and see what comes up.
Challenge Your Thoughts
A great test to figure out if you’re being harsh to yourself or not is to ask yourself “would I say this to another person?”. Start to train yourself to speak to yourself with as much compassion as you would a stranger. A lot of negative self-talk is cruel and untrue. For example, if you mess up your diet and you think “I’m so gross and ugly” you should challenge that thought and ask yourself if you really think it’s true. Ask yourself:
Would I say this to a stranger?
Is this thought kind?
Will thinking this thought make me feel good?
Will continue to think this thought or hold this belief help me get where I want to be in life?
Replace Your Thoughts
Once you start identifying and challenging your internal dialogue instead of just letting it run free you can start working on replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones. If you have a hard time thinking of positive thoughts keep some affirmations on hand that you can say when you start to beat yourself up. Try writing one of your most common negative thoughts and then below it list all the reasons that thought isn’t true and all the ways that thought is holding you back. Practice adding in more positive thoughts about yourself as you go about your day. It’s really easy to focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves and ignore all the good traits we have and work we do. Start training your brain to compliment and praise yourself throughout the day to help you start looking for the good in everything instead of focusing on what you don’t like. Check out these gratitude journal prompts to get you started.
Breaking any habit is difficult. Don’t fall into the trap of getting down on yourself if you catch yourself having negative thoughts about yourself. This is a vicious loop but it’s easy to fall into if you’re used to thinking negative thoughts when you make a mistake. Commit to forgiving yourself for any mistakes that you make and move on. Recognize that making yourself feel bad doesn’t serve any purpose. Choose to forgive yourself for any mistakes you’ve made in the past and decide to believe that you deserve to be happy. You don’t get bonus points for staying unhappy or getting really down on yourself for mistakes. The best thing to do when you fuck up is to figure out what you can learn and then move on from it. We’re all human and we all make mistakes (sometimes even giant stupid ones). Decide to be OK with screwing up sometimes and accept that you are trying your best. Messing up doesn’t mean that you deserve to feel bad and you’re not going to learn more by dragging yourself down.
Make a Commitment
As far as we know this could be our one and only shot at life. Do you really want to spend it feeling bad? Make a commitment to yourself to start making your brain the kindest and loving place that you can. Think about how much time you spend every day having an internal dialogue with yourself. This time can be used to build yourself up and encourage yourself or it can be used to destroy your self-esteem and make you feel like garbage. Making life harder than it needs to be doesn’t serve any purpose and you don’t deserve to feel bad. There’s nothing noble about being really nasty to yourself. Changing your thought patterns is hard work and it involves a lot of discipline but it is possible. Make a commitment to yourself to start improving your internal dialogue.
If you’re struggling or suffering start trying to focus on the positive things instead of the negative. I know how hard it is and how impossible it can seem but it does get easier. Negative thoughts can hold you back from healing and living your life the way that you want. Decide to tell that voice in your head to STFU and start to work towards thinking positive. Developing positive self-talk can help you from spiraling deeper into depression and anxiety.
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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Gratitude writing prompts