Challenging Negative Self-Talk

Most people don’t realize it, but as we go about our daily lives we are constantly thinking about and interpreting the situations we find ourselves in. We have an internal dialogue or voice inside of our head that determines how we perceive every situation. This inner voice is known as ‘self-talk‘, and it includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious assumptions and beliefs.

Much of our self-talk is reasonable. However, some of our self-talk is negative, unrealistic or self-defeating. If you’re experiencing depression, it’s more likely that you interpret things negatively. That’s why it’s useful to keep tabs on the things you tell yourself and challenge some of the negative aspects of your thinking.

You can test, challenge and change your self-talk, and change some of the negative aspects of your thinking by challenging the irrational parts and replacing them with more reasonable thoughts and with practice, you’ll start to notice your own negative thoughts as soon as they happen, and begin to consciously choose to think about the situation in a more realistic and helpful way.

Questions to ask yourself to help challenge your negative thoughts or self-talk:

  1. Am I falling into a thinking trap, e.g. catastrophizing or overestimating danger?
  2. What is the evidence that this thought is true? What is the evidence that this it is not true?
  3. Have I confused a thought with a fact?
  4. What would I tell a friend if he/she had the same thought?
  5. What would a friend say about my thought?
  6. Am I 100% sure that ___________will happen?
  7. How many times has __________happened before?
  8. Is __________so important that my future depends on it?
  9. What is the worst that could happen?
  10. If it did happen, what could I do to cope with or handle it?
  11. Is my judgment based on the way I feel instead of facts?
  12. Am I confusing “possibility” with “certainty”? It may be possible, but is it likely?
  13. Is this a hassle or a horror?

Recognizing that your current way of thinking might be self-defeating can sometimes motivate you to look at things from a different perspective.

You can conquer your negative thoughts and destructive self-talk today by challenging yourself with these questions every time you catch yourself thinking something negative.

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