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Positive Thinking

How to End Negative Self Talk and Reinvent Your Self Image

Written by Kathryn Sandford
Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.
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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 unsplash.com


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