An inner voice that is harsh and critical can make you believe that you are worthless. This is a lie. Despite what your inner critic says, you are worthy and deserving of love and respect. Learning how to combat negative self-talk can help you in every aspect of your life.
A harsh inner critic can be caused by external voices. You may have had someone in your childhood tell you that you are not good enough, that who you are is bad, or that you are a failure. This outer critic might have been society, a parent, someone you looked up to, or a bully.
Whoever it may have been, the false words spewed by your outer critic have now become your inner critic. This means that your internal thoughts are filled with damaging ideas that aim to destroy your sense of self-worth and prevent you from being who you really are. A harsh inner critic may tell you things like:
No one wants to be your friend
You are ugly
No one will ever love you
You are a failure
You are stupid
You deserve to die
You can't do anything right
These thoughts are false and wrong. They are incredibly damaging, and if you spend years thinking about them, they can erode your self-worth to nothing. Harsh self-talk can prevent you from trying new things, making friends, applying for jobs, or even participating in hobbies you enjoy.
For most people, your inner thoughts are automatic. You do not think about them or notice them, even when they have a severely damaging effect on you. The first step in learning how to combat these thoughts is recognizing that they are happening. By practicing mindfulness, you can take a few seconds to stop, focus on your thoughts and what they are telling you, and decide whether to challenge them or not.
Becoming aware of your internal thoughts can take time and practice. For most, it can be a long process to recognize when you have negative self-talk in your mind. Journaling can be a great way to start taking notice of your thoughts when they happen. A stream of consciousness style of journaling can show you that when left unchecked, your thoughts may increasingly turn negative and self-deprecating.
Once you have learned how to recognize when your internal critic is speaking inside your mind, you can try challenging those thoughts. At first, challenging negative self-talk may feel uncomfortable or even cheesy, but by purposefully combating these thoughts, you can help you be your true self again.
A few examples of how to challenge negative self-talk include:
"I fail at everything I try."
“I am not a failure. I try my best, and sometimes things don't work out the way I planned. That does not mean that I am a failure.”
“I am a bad mom.”
"I am good enough. I apologize to my children when I make mistakes. I am not perfect, but I work on myself every day."
“You are too stupid to do this.”
“I am capable of doing hard things, even if I don't understand everything right away. I might need extra help, but that doesn't mean that I am stupid.”
“No one will ever love you.”
“I am deserving and worthy of love. I deserve someone who will love me for who I am, even if I am not perfect.”
Your negative self-talk will be unique to you, but you can learn how to challenge your negative self-talk by focusing on the facts of the situation. Avoiding black-and-white thinking and showing yourself self-compassion can help you replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.
While the advice to “Think positive!” can be seen as toxic positivity, there are many benefits to positive thinking when used to combat negative self-talk. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can:
Lower depression and anxiety
Help you build resilience
Improve your physical health
If you are used to experiencing negative self-talk, you might find it extremely difficult to challenge your negative thoughts with positive ones at first. You might feel like you are lying to yourself about what is true. In this case, a therapist can help tell you what is real and what is not when it comes to your negative thoughts and teach you how to accept the positive, genuine thoughts. Learning how to challenge your negative inner critic and replacing it with a positive inner voice can help you thrive.
Negative self-talk can come from a harsh inner critic whose aim is to silence you and keep you from being who you are. Negative self-talk can be highly damaging and make you feel like you are undeserving of love and respect. However, you can learn how to combat your harsh inner critic by recognizing when your thoughts are negative. After identifying when you are experiencing negative self-talk, you can start practicing replacing negative inner thoughts with positive ones. This process can be extremely challenging, especially if your inner critic is strong. At SokyaHealth, our licensed therapists can help you stop negative self-talk and replace your inner critic with compassionate, loving, realistic, and positive thoughts that uplift you. We treat you as a whole person through a personalized treatment plan. Our mental health professionals can help you realize you are deserving of love and respect. Call us at (877) 840-6956 for more information.