Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to End Negative Self Talk and Reinvent Your Self Image

How to End Negative Self Talk and Reinvent Your Self Image

The types of conversations you have with yourself determine how you live your life. Negative self-talk can be detrimental to your self-confidence and ability to set positive goals for yourself. In this case, it’s important to remember the following idea:

“The way you choose to think and speak about yourself (to yourself and others), IS A CHOICE! You may have spent your whole life talking about yourself in a negative way, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue that path.” ―Miya Yamanouchi

If the conversations in your head are negative, then the chances are high that you will be not living your life to your full potential.

There is no magic formula to turning your life around. If it were that easy then everyone would be choosing to live his or her life to the fullest. Negative self-talk and self-doubt would be eliminated.

To become your own “cheer squad” involves a journey of learning on how to love and take care of yourself so that you can live your life to the fullest.

What Is Negative Self-Talk?

Negative self-talk is the voice inside our head commonly known as our inner critic, that tries to convince us of how “bad” we are. This, of course, leads to poor mental health and cognitive distortions as we learn to identify with the negative aspects we are constantly focusing on.

A great inner critic will convince us to believe that we are any number of things: a failure, ugly, annoying, dumb, etc.

Your negative self-talk limits your ability to believe in yourself and increases stress levels unnecessarily. Any negative thought that questions you, your confidence, and your ability to make positive changes in your life is a sign that your inner critic at work.


Therefore, stopping negative self-talk is imperative. When you do achieve a more positive view of yourself, your self-belief, confidence, and resilience grows and as a result your life becomes more fulfilled and happier.

What Causes Negative Talk

Carl Rogers, an early pioneer of positive psychology, believed that people were always in the process of changing and growing. He believed that all people possess an inherent need to grow and achieve their potential. He called this self–actualization, which leads people to pursue happiness and fulfilment.

Rogers believed that to successfully strive for self-actualization, a person needed to have the three components of “self concept.”

Self concept was the term Rogers used to refer to how a person thinks about, evaluates, and perceives him or herself. Rogers said that self concept has three components:

  1. Self image: How you see yourself
  2. Self esteem: The extent to which you value yourself
  3. Ideal self: What you wish you were really like

The formation of a healthy self-concept, according to Rogers, is an ongoing process shaped by a person’s life experiences[1].

What Is Self-Concept and How Does It Form?


    People with a stable sense of self tend to have greater confidence and cope more effectively with life’s challenges. People who had more unstable lives and more traumatic life experiences tended to have a more pessimistic view of themselves and engaged more in negative self-talk.


    Rogers believed that people intuitively want to be in the process of changing and growing. Those people whose lives are controlled by their inner critic do have a number of hurdles to overcome before they can take up the challenge of personal change and growth.

    As Carl Rogers pointed out, the first step to change your thinking about who you are is to accept yourself, faults and all, and then you can begin to take the steps to change.

    3 Steps to Manage Your Negative Self-Talk

    There are 3 critical steps you can take to manage your negative self-talk in order to have more control over your life and outlook. I believe that if you take these 3 critical steps, your journey to reinvent your life has already begun.

    Remember that improving your self-belief and self-image takes time and it will not happen overnight, but it will happen if you embrace your journey of change.

    1. Commit to Taking Action

    “Struggle ends where commitment begins.” ―Sumner Davenport

    This quote by Sumner Davenport illustrates the importance of commitment when it comes to transforming your life. Once you commit to your journey of change, then the daily struggle and daily pain that you are living with will eventually disappear.

    Your fears and feelings produced through negative self-talk will be replaced with the feelings of success, happiness, and joy. You will feel more enlightened, optimistic, and hopeful about your life and your future.

    Life will still continue to throw your curveballs, but you will be more resilient and have greater ability to navigate your way through the challenges that life deals to you.


    2. Start Using Your Power of Choice

    The journey to living life as the best person you can be starts with you. It starts with you using a wonderful gift called the Power of Choice, which we all have and yet some of us are afraid to use.

    Using your power of choice means that you have to step out of your comfort zone and away from negative self-talk. If you choose to do nothing and keep the status quo, you will keep getting the same results.

    Use your power of choice to empower you to start living life the way you want live it. Your power of choice is the one thing you have that you control, and using it wisely will enable you to live your life as the best version of yourself

    When you are faced with a situation that is outside your comfort zone and the inner critic is starting to question you and your abilities, challenge yourself by asking these questions:

    • What is the evidence for and against my thinking?
    • Are my thoughts factual or just my interpretation?
    • How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?
    • Do these thoughts stop me from achieving my goals?
    • If I were being positive, what would I be thinking?
    • Is this situation as bad as I am making it out to be?
    • What is the worst and what is the best thing that could happen?
    • Would this matter in 1 week, or 2 months, or 1 year, or 5 years?

    There are many more questions you could ask; however, you must always challenge yourself by asking your negative self-talk about the truthfulness of what it’s telling you. Then using your power of choice to take action.

    3. Use the 5-Second Rule to Embrace Change In Your Life

    The one thing that is a given in your life is change. There is no way you can expect to live your life and not experience any change.

    Our inner self-critic negative self-talk is our protection against change. It is the voice inside our heads that will resist change for as long as it can. The longer you listen to your inner self-critic, the more incapable you will be of responding to and embracing change.

    The journey to embracing change and managing your inner self-critic is a process. It is like training for a marathon. Nobody goes and runs a marathon with no preparation and training.


    Training involves you getting not only your body fit but you also getting your mind fit. Your mind has to believe that all the training that you are doing is preparing you to successfully achieve your goal—which is to run a marathon.

    You have a choice here—if you don’t manage your self-critic or self-doubt, then your chances of successfully achieving your goal will be limited.

    The 5-Second Rule transformed my life! It is a very simple tool that allows you take control of your inner self critic and take action. If you have a desire to act on a goal or make a commitment, you must take action within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.

    When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.

    There is a window that exists between the moment you have an instinct to change and your mind pushing it down. It’s a 5-second window, and it exists for everyone.

    If you do not take action on your instinct to change, you will stay stagnant and your negative self-talk will take over.

    The Bottom Line

    Using the advice above will empower you to take action so you can live your life to the fullest– with confidence, self-belief, courage, and a positive outlook on life.

    Your negative self-talk will never go away completely, but by taking action and committing to making changes in your life, you will have the power to choose the conversations you have with your inner self-critic.


    More on Building Yourself up

    Featured photo credit: Chad Madden via


    [1] Very Well: What Is Self-Concept?

    More by this author

    Kathryn Sandford

    Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

    Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy How to Persevere (and Get Ahead) When the Going Gets Tough How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You 7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside

    Trending in Positive Thinking

    1 How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary 2 Signs You Need an Attitude Adjustment (And How to Do It) 3 15 Habits of Highly Miserable People 4 How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others & Celebrate Your Uniqueness 5 Why You Think You’re Not Good Enough and How To Believe in Yourself

    Read Next


    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

    How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

    When someone says, “I can’t do it” . . . I say to myself, “What do you mean you can’t do it?” Maybe you don’t want to do it, but saying you “can’t” do it is a completely different story.

    With the right mindset, positive attitude, and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the only thing that is holding you back is yourself.

    Can’t is a terrible word and it has to be taken out of your vocabulary.

    By saying you can’t do something, you’re already doubting yourself, submitting to defeat, and you’re making that barrier around your life tighter.

    So today, right now, we are going to remove this word for good.

    From now on there is nothing we can’t do.

    “Attitude is Tattoo”

    Your attitude is everything; it’s your reason, your why and how, your facial expression, emotions, body language, and potentially the end result. How you approach an opportunity, and the result of it, is solely based on you — not your boss or your co-worker or friend.

    If you enter a business meeting with a sour attitude, that negative energy can spread like wildfire. People can also feel it — maybe even taste it. This is not an impression you want to leave.


    Now imagine you enter a business meeting with a positive attitude, that whatever happens in here is going to be your result, in your control, not someone else’s. Of course, we can’t always win, but even if the outcome is negative, your attitude and perception can turn it into a positive. The question is: can you do it?

    Of course you can, because there is nothing in this world you can’t do.

    It’s much better to be known for your positive attitude — your poise, your energy, the reason why things go so well because you are able to maintain such character. A negative attitude is easy. It’s easy to complain, it’s easy to be mad, and it’s even easier to do nothing to change it.

    When I say your “attitude is tattoo”, it sounds permanent. Tattoos can be removed, but that’s not the point. Your attitude is like a tattoo because you wear it. People can see it and sometimes, they will judge you on it. If you maintain a negative attitude, then it is permanent until you change it.

    Change your attitude and I guarantee the results change as well.

    Believe You Can Do It

    Do you know why most people say “can’t” and doubt themselves before trying anything?

    It’s our lack of self-confidence and fear on many different levels. The one thing we have to purge from ourselves is fear — fear of bad results, fear of change, fear of denial, fear of loss, the fear that makes us worry and lose sleep. Worrying is the same as going outside with an umbrella, waiting for rain to hit it. Stop worrying and move on.

    Confidence is fragile: It builds up slowly, but can shatter like glass. Project your confidence and energy into believing in yourself. This is a very important and groundbreaking step — one that is usually the hardest to take. Start telling yourself you can do something, anything, and you will do it the best to your ability. Remove doubt, remove fear, and stick with positive energy.


    Learn how to boost your confidence: How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

    Embrace Failure

    Do not fear failure. Do not run away from it. Face it, learn from it, grow, and take action. Just remember: You will never know success if you have never failed.

    Your confidence will bolster after embracing these facts. You will be immune to demoralizing results, and instead you will find ways to fix it, improve upon it, and make it better than before. You will learn to never say “can’t,” and will realize how many more opportunities you can create by removing that one word.

    Don’t let one simple and ugly word plague your confidence. You’re better and stronger than that.

    Start Making the Change

    But to actually start the process of change is very challenging.

    Why is that?

    Fear? Time? Don’t know how — or where — to start?

    It’s hard because what we’re doing is unlearning what we know. We are used to doing things a certain way, and chances are we’ve been doing them for years.


    So here are some ways that I avoid using the word “can’t”, and actually take the steps to put forth the change that I wish to see. I hope you can incorporate these methods into your life.

    Write down What You Want to Change

    Write it on post-its, notecards, whatever makes you comfortable — something you will always see. I usually write mine on post-its and put them all over the wall behind my monitor so I always see them.

    Tell a Friend and Talk About It

    Discussing your goals, what you want to change, is very effective when you say it out loud and tell another person other than yourself. It’s almost like saying, hey, I bet I can do it — watch me.

    When you fulfill that goal and tell your friend, it feels rewarding and will motivate you to do it again in a different aspect. Who knows? Maybe your friend adopts the same mindset as you.

    Stop Yourself from Saying the Forbidden Word

    Sometimes,I can’t control myself in public when I’m with friends, so I have to be careful with the words I use so I don’t embarrass or insult anyone.

    Treat the word “can’t” as the worst word you can possibly use. Stop yourself from saying it, mid-sentence if you must, and turn your whole perspective around — you can do it, you will do it, and nothing is impossible!

    Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

    You think this change will be overnight? No way. This is a practice. Something you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life from now until forever.

    As I said earlier, you are unlearning what you know. You know how easy it is to say you can’t do something, so by unlearning this easy practice, you’re self-disciplining yourself to live without boundaries.


    Practice this everyday, a little at a time, and before you know it, the word can’t will not be part of your language.

    Do Anything That Can Relieve Your Uncertainty

    When I catch myself saying I can’t do something or I don’t know something, looking up information on that action or subject, doing research, educating yourself, relieves that uncertainty.

    Sometimes, we think we can’t do something because the whole idea of it seems too large. We skip the small steps in our head and only focus on the end.

    Before you say you can’t do something, rewind and slow down a little bit. Focus on what the first step is, then the next. Take it a step at a time, and before you know it you will have done something you previously thought you couldn’t do.

    Final Thoughts

    You know what you must do. The first step is right now. Once you begin this habit, and really start noticing some change, you’ll realize the door to opportunity is everywhere.

    The funny thing is: Those doors have always been there. The evil word that we no longer use put a veil over our eyes because that’s how powerful that word is.

    More Tips for Strengthening Your Resilience

    Featured photo credit: Cata via

    Read Next