5 Quick Ways To Stop Negative Self-Talk

Stop negative self-talk by recognizing it’s a form of self-sabotage and originates from your demon inner critic.  Here are 5 quick ways to stop negative self-talk when it happens to you:

  1. Take a reality check
  2. Soften the blow
  3. Think like a friend
  4. Look into the future
  5. Stop the thought
woman in an open top fast car waving

Life should be all about enjoying the ride, not hounded by negative self-talk

Life is like driving a car.  Sometimes we take the scenic route, other times we take the motorway, so we make progress quicker.  We can be driving along quite happily on the road to success, entirely focused on what we are doing.

You’re on your way. You’re about to make some serious progress in something which matters deeply to you when suddenly, there it is. A nasty little inner voice telling you all the ways you’re going to fail.

You know that voice. It nags away at the back of your mind.  One minute you are flying along singing at the top of your voice to the radio, and then bam.  The car comes to a stop.  The electrics have gone a little haywire.  The radio has just re-tuned itself, and suddenly you are bombarded with static.  In amongst the noise, you hear broken conversation like a message coming to you from another world.

You find yourself at a standstill, not sure what you should do or where you should go next. All you can do is watch in envy as all the other cars whizz past.  All because of some negative self-talk.

But you can’t let it end that way. It’s the negative self-talk that needs to stop in its tracks, not you.  It’s time to restart the engine, try another gear and get going.

How? Try these methods for some quick and easy success to stop negative self-talk:

woman raising a finger to ask ways to stop negative self-talk is it true

Ask yourself - is it true?

1.  Take a Reality Check To Stop Negative Self-Talk

When you hear the negative thoughts, ask yourself: is this thought true?

Your negative self-talk tends to be rather dramatic and prone to exaggerate.  Rather than thinking of something as a challenge, it believes that there is a catastrophe coming.   Think mountains and molehills, and you’ll get the picture.

For example: if you hear the voice saying ‘you’re always late’.  Stop negative self-talk by taking a moment to challenge it.  Are you always late, or are you only ‘sometimes’ late?

2.  Soften the Blow

Negative self-talk tends to be brutal. Another ways to stop negative self-talk is to reword something negative into something a little more passable if you can’t figure out the positive counterpart.

You can stop negative self-talk by taking the sting out of the words.  When you soften the blow, you help yourself to feel more motivated. For example.  If you think, “I cannot possibly finish on time”, you can change the thought and think, “I will finish this project, and even if it’s late, it will be okay because I talked to my boss about it.”

Ways to stop negative self-talk is to talk with a friend - two women relaxing together

Friends bring out the best in us. Talk to yourself as if you are talking to your best friend

3.  Think Like a Friend

When you hear negative self-talk, ask yourself if you would talk to someone else in the same way.  I can safely say that you wouldn’t.  So why would you speak to yourself so badly?

One of the most powerful ways to stop negative self-talk is to think about what you would say to your best friend about the same topic.

If you can’t stop negative self-talk by finding the words to talk to yourself gently, then imagine and practice talking to yourself the way you would to your best friend.

4.  Look into the Future

Somehow, we all get caught up in the moment when something awful is said to us.  We tend to dwell on it and explore it from all angles and often overthink what is said.

But consider this.  Will this really matter tomorrow? Or next week? Or next year?

A lot of negative self-talk is focused so much on the here and now. We tend to forget how little these words will matter outside of today. Stop negative self-talk and brush off the things which have no bearing on your future.

woman in downward dog yoga position

Don't bow down to negative self-talk. Stand up to it and stop it in it's tracks.

5.  Stop the Negative Self-Thought

Even interrupting your negative self-talk will change the script and force another ending to the story you tell yourself.

When you hear negative self-talk, tell yourself to stop.  Force yourself to think about something different. If the negative thinking comes up again, tell it quite firmly to disappear again.

You may need to keep doing this until it goes away and stays away.  Another way to achieve this is to distract yourself from thinking at all – do something active and preferably fun.


Are you feeling better now? Hopefully, you’re back up and running. The road is clear ahead, and the sky is the limit! Now get moving, and don’t look back.

Next steps when read good things happen when you ask for what you want

You now have 5 ways to stop negative self-talk.  Here are some additional thoughts that will help.

  • Consider the situations where your negative self-talk arises.  Are there particular areas that you doubt yourself more than others?
  • Write a list of the terms used by your negative self-talk.  Often there is a general theme that appears as if on repeat.  Discover what that is, and then look at how you can soften the blow.
  • To stop negative self-talk, practice talking to your best friend.  You can do this in person or even use a mirror to hold the conversation.  Weird as it sounds, looking at an image in the mirror can help articulate what you would say.  In my article Ask Yourself Out Loud To Clarify What You Want, I also highlight how talking to yourself can make it easier when you come to ask others for what you want.  You can adopt the same approach to yourself.
  • Write a list of your achievements; then, when the negative thoughts arise, you can refer to your list, which helps to put a reality check on what is said to you. 
  • Another technique to try is to collect what I call love letters.  These could be emails, letters/cards of thanks for things that you have done.  Having a reminder from other people about the things you have done is powerful.
  • If you have clarity about what you want to achieve for your future self, you can challenge the negative self-talk.  Do you know what you stand for, is the inner dialogue in keeping with the person you are becoming or want to become?  If not, then challenge its destructive nature.

Final Thoughts On Ways To Stop Negative Self-Talk

The thoughts in your head, which make up the negative self-talk, can be stopped.  Be kind to yourself.  Get to know more about yourself.  What you’re qualities and values are.  When you have a strong understanding of yourself, you build confidence.

Changing your self-talk takes time and conscious effort.  But, with practice and patience, you can discover powerful ways to stop negative self-talk for yourself.

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About the author Alison

A qualified UK based coach with 30 years of experience in personal development.

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