Everyone has inner thoughts.
These ideas, when healthy, act like an ongoing self-dialog that helps keep us honest, motivated, and on track.
“Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all linked, so our thoughts impact how we feel and act,” explains Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., a NYU School of Medicine psychologist and clinical assistant professor.
But sometimes, that conversation turns negative.
This negativity is known as negative self-talk and often manifests in short indefensible comments that have the potential to establish and fuel a never-ending self-fulfilling prophecy.
What Is Negative Self-Talk?
Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that runs through your head. This internal dialog, referred to as rational emotive behavior therapy, can be either positive or negative.
Research suggests humans have developed cognitive distortions to cope with unfavorable life events.
The more prolonged and damaging the event, the more likely a cognitive distortion will form.
Some believe people might have developed cognitive distortions as an early evolutionary survival method in response to stress.
Generally, self-talk comes from logic and reason. Positive self-dialog can take the form of positive affirmations.
But negative self-talk stems from distinct thoughtful processes known as cognitive distortions and may include
- a lack of information
- false expectations.
Negative self-talk is the expression of counter-productive thoughts or feelings that tend to demotivate and diminish one’s ability to make positive life changes.
Talking badly about yourself can also be stressful — affecting your health, self-confidence, and well-being.
Types of Negative Self-Talk
Focusing only on the negative things about yourself affects your self-perception and self-worth. It creates a behavioral spiral that reinforces negative thoughts.
Negative self-thought can result in missed social, personal, and professional opportunities and increased stress.
Chronic health issues may also be linked to negative self-reflection.
Diminished immune systems, increased cardiovascular disease, susceptibility to common ailments, and even a decrease in overall life span have been associated with negative affirmations.
Psychologists have also linked negative thinking or cognitive distortions to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, chronic worry, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Other consequences of negative self-talk can include:
- Limited thinking: This may result in reduced life opportunities, including professional, personal, and invitations to social events.
- Feelings of depression: These feelings can range from being ‘blue’ to clinical depression requiring professional guidance and help.
- Personality Disorders: A wide range of personality disorders can be linked to significant inner criticism.
- Relationship challenges: self-criticism engenders negative habits and a lack of communication that can harm relationships.
There is a difference between being critical and self-criticism.
Sometimes we need an inner critic to put us back on track. There are different unhelpful patterns of thinking.
But they all involve a distorted and irrational way of viewing people, social situations, and the world at large.
But the harm emerges when the tendency to engage in negative self-evaluation is all-encompassing, resulting in feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and failure. At this stage, negativity drowns out logical thought.
There are numerous forms of negative self-talk, including:
- Filtering. Dwelling and amplifying the negative aspects of a situation while filtering out the positive.
- Personalizing. Automatically blaming yourself for all the bad in the world.
- Perfectionism: Trying to be perfect creates a constant unattainable stress-filled situation.
- All or Nothing: Things always occur in black-and-white categories. A simple mistake equates to total failure.
- Catastrophizing. Anticipating the worst without all the facts. This type of thinking can take on many forms:
- Mind Reading: This is a type of catastrophizing where you arbitrarily believe that people are reacting badly to you.
- Fortune Telling: This is also a type of catastrophizing where you expect things to turn out badly- for example, The restaurant will get your order wrong.
- Blaming: The blame is always rationalized away and placed on someone else. Accepting responsibility is the first step in growth and letting go of a situation. Unfortunately, If you never acknowledge your part, you will never learn and grow.
- Magnification & Minimization: You make a big deal out of minor problems. This type of cognitive disorder magnifies the importance of insignificant events—like a mistake or breaking a nail. It can also lessen something significant, such as an award or promotion.
- Polarizing. A cognitive distortive process where the world and your life are categorized as “all-or-nothing.” Things are either all good or all bad.
- Overgeneralization: Overgeneralizing is a cognitive distortion. These types of distorted thinking result in incorrect assumptions and, in most cases, significant emotional pain. For the overgeneralizer, one adverse event becomes a never-ending pattern of defeat.
- Emotional Reasoning: Commonly found in people with panic disorders, this opposing thought interprets our surroundings according to our feelings. In most cases, we believe that these negative emotions reflect reality. If one feels it, then it must be true. Or we are in immediate danger.
77 Negative Self-Talk Examples that Sabotage Your Joy
Coping with daily life can be stressful.
But if the following phrases look and sound familiar, try asking if you are using more than a few examples and talking bad about yourself in your daily routine.
If the answer is yes, it might be time to look for several complementary ways to combat negativity. And turn these negative ideas into supportive, positive affirmations.
Examples of negative talk surrounding self-worth.
1. I don’t deserve to be happy.
2. Bad things always happen to me.
3. I have no reason to smile and be happy.
4. Opportunities are limited for me.
5. I am not happy with who I am.
6. I never have anything.
7. Being positive doesn’t work.
8. Can my life get any worse?
9. Everything always ends up the same.
10. My life gets worse every day.
11. I am a waste of time.
12. It’s too good to be true.
13. I can’t do anything right.
14. I hate who I am.
15. I am so stupid.
16. I am not worth it.
17. There is nothing special about me.
18. I suck at life.
19. I can’t do anything right.
20. I am not smart enough to do that.
21. I am not good enough.
22. I don’t have a lot to offer.
23. I am such a failure.
24. Everything I touch falls apart.
25. I am a failure.
26. I am not worth it.
27. People won’t like me.
28. I am not talented enough.
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Here are some examples of negative personal image statements.
29. I am disgusting.
30. My body sucks.
31. I am so ugly.
32. I look horrible in this outfit.
33. My health doesn’t matter.
34. I’m too lazy to get in shape.
35. People will laugh at me in the gym.
36. I am not attractive.
37. I hate my body.
38. I will never look like I used to.
39. Everyone thinks I’m gross.
40. I am over the hill.
41. I feel so old.
42. I have no willpower.
43. No one is attracted to this.
Examples of negative self-confidence talk.
44. Why me?
45. I’ll never be able to do it.
46. I suck at this.
47. I’ll never be good at anything.
48. No one ever notices me.
49. I’m such a loser.
50. It’s too complicated.
51. I’ll never finish.
52. Others are better than me.
53. I’m not enough.
54. I can’t compete.
55. I’ll never be on their level.
56. Who am I to speak up?
57. My opinion doesn’t count.
58. People will talk about me.
59. No one ever notices me.
60. I’m not enough.
61. I have no confidence.
62. I get easily overwhelmed.
Examples of negative thoughts surround being undeserving of love.
63. I don’t deserve to be loved.
64. No one will ever love me.
65. I’m going to die sad and alone.
66. True love is a myth.
67. It’s too late for me.
68. I have too much baggage.
69. It probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway.
70. I should be married by now.
71. My relationship is hopeless.
72. It should be easy.
73. I don’t deserve to be a priority.
74. They are too good for me.
75. I can’t forgive them.
76. I don’t stand a chance.
77. I’m not the relationship type.
If you tend to have a pessimistic outlook, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight. Because we are inundated with criticism throughout our day, it is hard to build adequate defenses.
Negative self-talk is insidious, sometimes conscious, but even worse, sub-conscious. These little negative phrases are almost relentless in their attempts to sabotage our goals.
Therapy can also help change negative thoughts, but you can also learn how to change your thought patterns. And with practice, eventually, you will be able to transform your thoughts and behaviors.
Your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. And you may find that the world around you is a brighter, happier place.