Overcoming negative self-talk

By Hina Narjis
Fri, 02, 20

One of these dilemmas is negative self-talk. Self-talk in itself is not a bad thing; rather, it’s pretty much beneficial when, for instance, someone is practising a language....


The increasing number of young minds suffering from psychological dilemmas is alarming. Just flip through any magazine and you’ll see its advice column are full of issues related to mental health.

One of these dilemmas is negative self-talk. Self-talk in itself is not a bad thing; rather, it’s pretty much beneficial when, for instance, someone is practising a language, narrating what’s happening around, giving a loud compliment to boost self-confidence or guiding through a task. The problem arises when this self-talk becomes negative. As Miya Yamanouchi puts it, “The way you choose to think and speak about yourself, to yourself and others, is a choice!”

You must have heard youngsters around you mumbling sentences like:

“I’m a total failure”

“I can’t impress anyone”

“My lips are too thick”

“I’m good at nothing”

“I’m just a filler in this world”

“I’m a fat ugly duck”

“My accent is terrible”

“I hate myself”

If this negative talk happens on and off, there’s nothing to worry about. But if it’s consistent, a sudden strategy is required to help negative talkers. Before discussing the solution, let’s see why youngsters develop such kind of behaviour in the first place.

Teenage is a transition period from childhood to adulthood. Teens don’t like to be scolded. They want to be known individually. They are always concerned about their self-respect. They want to be understood. They wish to be in good books of the people who appreciate them.

When people around them don’t understand their age requirements, they start behaving in a certain way. They indulge in the negative talk when they find themselves unable to meet their impossibly high and unrealistic standards. They create a safe zone in which they talk about their failure in advance just to pretend that the upcoming downfall is not something new or important for them. Sometimes they mistake the protection provided by their parents as a lack of their trust in them. Some youngsters want their parents to feel guilty by implying they have got defective personalities because of the careless upbringing.

When someone tells these young people that they are different, instead of appreciating their uniqueness, they consider themselves a misfit in society. Negative self-talk is the result of negative comments they’ve received in the past from the people around them.

Now the question arises, does this negative self-talk influence one’s life in a negative way? Unfortunately, the answer is a big yes! They say, “Your body hears everything that your mind says.” Negative talkers start internalising these negative statements. They start treating this critical inner voice as their mentor. They begin to accept their destructive advice and see the world through this filter. They stop believing in any positive comment that comes their way.

Who can help these poor souls? Everyone can make them feel better. All these negative talkers need is a trustworthy person to confide in. Try to see the world through their eyes. Talk to them. Respect their point of view and listen to them attentively.

Give compliments often, which would acknowledge their efforts. Engage them in physical activities as it lift spirits. Focusing on a larger cause will give them a sense of responsibility and help them see beyond their own selves.

Model positive talk yourself. For instance, if you overcook a dish, don’t say, “I’ve never been good at cooking.” Instead say, “I’m a good cook in general but today I messed up. This one incident cannot stop me from cooking again.” It will teach them to accept what they cannot change and to consider mistakes as learning experience.

Educational institutes should also play their part. Making policies like not disclosing grades publicly and encouraging collaborative learning in classrooms can be beneficial.

If we adopt a kind and sympathetic attitude towards negative talkers, we can transform them into empowered citizens who are not only friendly towards themselves but also influence the society in a positive way. After all, youth is the future of any nation. And the best gift one generation can give to the next is positivity.