Negative Self Talk

Your biggest critic is you.

We’ve all heard this saying before. It’s the little voice in the back of your mind that critiques your actions, doubts your abilities, and judges your person.  Overcoming negative self-talk isn’t always as easy as thinking positive thoughts. Over time, negative self-talk can become an automatic response to challenges, difficult situations, or mistakes. It can be thoughts like “I’m so stupid,” “I’ll never pass this class,” or “I’ll never be any good at public speaking.” Challenging negative self-talk can be difficult, and like most habits, breaking the cycle of negative self-talk takes work. But with some time and attention, we can all learn to change our thinking and become our own biggest fan. There are four ways to challenge negative self-talk through questions and critical thinking.

  1. Test reality: If I were being positive, would I still be thinking these thoughts? Are there other explanations for this situation/experience/interaction? What other meanings could this have? If I were observing this from the outside, would I still be thinking this way?
  2. Find alternate explanations: What evidence do I have that supports my thoughts? What evidence do I have that negates my thoughts? Are my thoughts based on facts or emotions? What have I not considered?
  3. Check your perspective: Am I sure the situation is as bad as I’m making it out to be? What is the worst thing that could happen? If it did happen, what would I do? Is there any good that I can find in this situation? Will this situation be important/have an impact on my life in a day? A week? A month? If a friend of mine was experiencing this, what reaction would I have then?
  4. Focus on your goals: Is spending time on this situation helping me reach the goals I have for myself? What can I control about the situation? What is out of my control? What actions can I take to fix the problem? What can I learn from this experience?

If you’re finding that you’re having trouble silencing your negative self-talk, or if the issues you’re dealing with in your life are overwhelming, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can help. CAPS offers counseling services to Wayne State students, as well as couples counseling, educational programming, group therapy, and case management. All counseling services are free and always confidential. You can learn more about CAPS at,or you can visit the CAPS office on the 5thfloor of the Student Center Building.


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