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How Can Negative Self-Talk Impact Your Mental Health?

Exploring the Relationship Between Negative Self-Talk and Mental Health

I’m not pretty enough. I’m not good enough. I can never do anything right.

A consistently negative self-assessment seems likely to take its toll on our mental well-being. Is there a way to counter the negative self-talk with an interior dialogue that encourages, strengthens, and enables improvement rather than demeans us?


Here we will discuss the relationship between negative self-talk and mental health and provide strategies for changing the nature of our thoughts toward ourselves.

Table of Contents

What Is Negative Self-Talk?

All of us have some kind of interior dialogue within ourselves — a voice that evaluates us and expresses its estimation of what kind of person we are and what our actions say about us. This voice, which is actually our brain doing the work of appraising what it is meant to do, speaks to us as we go about the tasks and motions of our lives.

Negative self-talk is a way of speaking uncharitably to and about ourselves. It might manifest as:

  • Disappointment – “Who was I kidding when I thought I could…?”

  • Hopelessness – “I can never do anything right, no matter how hard I try.”

  • Self-contempt – “I can’t stand myself” or “I hate myself.”

However it manifests, negative self-talk tends to lower our belief in our abilities, our self-worth, and our personal attractiveness or likeability to others. As we believe more disparagingly of ourselves, we feel more and more inadequate.

What Can Trigger Negative Self-Talk?

Various situations can trigger negative self-talk, but sometimes it is rooted in the way the people we have looked up to or who were in authority over us spoke to us over a long period.

Situations that commonly trigger negative self-talk include:

  • Comparing ourselves to friends

  • Spending too much time on social media

  • Focusing on our flaws without giving credence to our strengths

When people engage regularly in negative self-talk, the belief in their inadequacy may be so strong that they try to contradict those who compliment them.

While it is helpful to have friends who speak well of you and try to correct your negative self-talk (if you voice it), it is usually not enough to completely reverse the habit.

How Can Negative Self-Talk Impact Your Mental Health?

Your brain can quickly develop judgments that are unfair or inaccurate.

What you feed your brain is usually what it ends up believing. If you feed it negative self-talk, you may create barriers for yourself and feel like you can’t surmount them.

Your mind and body resonate with this sense of limitation, and your mental health could suffer as a result.

May Lead to Isolation

“People engaging in harmful, negative self-talk are much more likely to pull back and isolate themselves,” explains Dr. Lauren Alexander of Cleveland Clinic.

After all, when we feel insecure about ourselves it is difficult to fully engage in social activities, even on the basic level of conversing with others.

For example, someone who constantly tells themselves they aren’t smart enough may be worried about meeting new people or talking to those they don’t know well because they feel they don’t have anything to add to a conversation and are embarrassed about how they will be perceived. This can lead to them choosing to stay home alone rather than going out and mingling or even participating in social activities they would normally love.

May Lead to Feelings of Decreased Motivation, Anxiety, and Depression

Isolation from friends and family can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. But even if we do not isolate ourselves from others, we can experience these feelings due to our perception that they do not suffer as we do or cannot understand what we are going through.

Our minds and emotions are closely linked, but the symptoms of ill health can feel quite different – even contradictory – leaving us feeling chaotic and confused.

At Good Bitters, we understand the importance of taking a holistic view of our mental and emotional health. That’s why we created Kalm Drops with a unique combination of sweet and bitter tastes. Try Kalm Drops as a point of focus during meditation to help you relax, recenter, and reconnect your body and mind.

An Asian man stressed over work documents.

The Good News Is That Positive Self-Talk May Also Impact Mental Health — For the Better

It is easy to see how negative self-talk and poor mental health reinforce each other, making our healing seem unattainable. But if we can shatter one of the links in the chain, we begin to see that it is not.

First, we must recognize that our treatment of ourselves should be more balanced. It is unrealistic to assume we have only negative qualities and are powerless to change.

On the contrary, we might have some areas that need improvement, but identifying them is the necessary first step to strengthening our weak points. We need to coach, not punish, ourselves.

4 Tips for Breaking the Habit of Negative Self-Talk

We do have the power to shift our mindset.

The decisive factor in which voice wins the day — negative or positive — is our choice.

First, we must decide that we want to break the habit of negative self-talk. As with breaking any bad habit, this takes determination and work.

Here are four specific actions we can practice to counter the negativity.

#1: Practice Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are positive statements about ourselves that we can affirm as true and that are used to challenge demeaning or hopeless thoughts.

Some examples of positive affirmations include:

  • I am getting better every day.

  • Everything I need is within me right now.

  • I will rise above negative self-talk.

  • Today will be a productive day.

  • I am intelligent and focused.

  • I am grateful for the possibilities of each new day.

Positive Affirmations Require Reflection

One theory, the “Self Affirmation Theory” suggests that when we affirm something positive about ourselves, we have to pinpoint an area in our life where it is true.

For example, if you are trying to counter the sense that you are a terrible person with the fact that you are a good person, find some evidence in your life that will support the affirmation.

You might recall letting someone in line ahead of you, and say to yourself, “I sacrificed convenience and time for the sake of someone else — that’s reflective of a good person.”

We don’t want to convince ourselves of things that are not true, of course. But focusing on the good we do — instead of our flaws – can help us improve our character and supply us with a true foundation for positive self-talk.

A young woman looking pensively away while sitting on a rooftop.

#2: Learn To Recognize — and Combat — Your Inner Critic

We must try to notice when we begin to speak to ourselves harshly.

If we wouldn’t talk that way to a friend or a child, why is it fair for us to do it to ourselves?

Just as we might stick up for someone who was spoken to in a negative way, we can be our own advocates and challenge the voice that exaggerates our flaws or points them out to the exclusion of our good traits.

#3: Actively Engage in “Thought-Stopping”

One effective way to silence negative self-talk is by simply stopping the thoughts in their tracks.

Thought-stopping” might involve: We can do this in various ways, such as:

  • Doing activities that interrupt the negative thoughts

  • Engaging in physical activity

  • Changing to another thought when a negative one invades

It might be tricky to distinguish negative thoughts from realistic thoughts. We must remember that our weaknesses are not stains on our character unless we allow ourselves to be defined by them.

So, how can we stop the cycle of critical thoughts in order to pursue a healthy course of self-improvement?

A group of adults sitting in chairs in a circle sharing with each other.

#4: Enlist Professional Help

If the above strategies are not enough to stop negative self-talk, therapists are available to help us identify the root causes of our negative thoughts and coach us into changing the way we talk to ourselves.

Constantly having negative thoughts about yourself is rooted in something, whether it’s having a parent who constantly told you that you weren’t good enough or a past where you struggled in school or any other reason. Having someone in the mental health profession unpack these issues with you will be beneficial in the long run.

Recenter and Reconnect With Yourself With Good Bitters Kalm Drops

If you’re stuck in the pattern of negative self-talk, there is hope.

You probably feel stuck in this endless cycle of negative thinking about yourself. But let’s look on the bright side — if you got yourself into this, you can get right back out!

You can start on a path of ending negative self-talk. When you’re thinking something negative about yourself, try concentrating on your breath. This may help your mind recenter and reconnect with your body by teaching you how to be present, listen, and respond to your body’s needs.

Kalm Drops can help you on this mission by shifting your focus from negative thoughts and negative self-talk to becoming relaxed and re-centered.

Good Bitters wants to support the realization of coexistence in all aspects of human life. Contact us today to begin (or continue) your journey toward positive self-talk that may positively impact your mental health.

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

​​Disclaimer: The information on this website is taken from traditional wisdom and modern research/databases and is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to act as medical advice or to replace medical treatment. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The statements and information on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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