How to Stop Negative Self-Talk & Believe in Yourself

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Organize Tomorrow Today" by Jason Selk, Tom Bartow, and Matthew Rudy. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

Is your mind overwhelmed by negativity? What can you do to combat the tendency to think in negative terms?

The human brain is wired for negativity because it aids survival. However, you have the power to consciously override the negativity bias and train yourself to maintain a positive outlook.

With this in mind, here’s how to stop negative self-talk or, at least, not take it seriously.

Eliminate Negativity in Conversations With Yourself

One of the biggest determiners of success is the way you speak to yourself. If you consistently talk to and about yourself with negativity, you’ll view yourself negatively. A negative self-image will hamper your ability to perform successfully—you can only perform up to the level you believe you can. 

(Shortform note: Many people believe that self-criticism is the best motivator of success because it makes them work harder and better. This is false—self-criticism leads you to hide failure and perceived weakness, preventing you from learning and growing from your mistakes. Furthermore, when you only focus on your shortcomings, you’ll inevitably be unhappy. Even if self-criticism helps you reach outward success, you won’t experience success you enjoy or actually feel good about.)

To stop negative self-talk, first, recognize how you communicate with yourself. When you see negative thoughts about yourself for what they are, you can begin separating them from your self-image. As negative thoughts about yourself arise, stop them by setting a rule that you’re not allowed to speak to yourself that way. 

Additionally, instead of focusing on the problems that might hinder your success, focus on the solutions you can use to improve things. When you center your thinking around problems, they become bigger in your mind, and you make decisions based on fear. 

For example, if there’s something you don’t understand at work, don’t focus on thoughts like, “I’m not smart enough to do this,” or “I don’t belong here.” Instead, consider possible solutions, like finding resources you can use to research your question or thinking of people you can ask for help. 

Common Negative Thought Patterns and How to Reframe Them

The authors offer solutions-based thinking and setting rules as useful strategies for combating negative thoughts, but they don’t expand on methods for identifying negative thoughts. You won’t be able to put the authors’ strategies into effect if you can’t recognize negative thoughts as they arise. In The Success Principles, Jack Canfield discusses common negative thoughts to look out for and ways to reframe them productively:

Assuming someone thinks negatively of you. For example, you may assume someone’s mad at you without knowing what they’re really thinking. Reframe this thought by asking them how they’re feeling instead.

Thinking in absolutes with words like never, always, and everyone. For example, you might think, “My friend never considers my feelings.” That probably isn’t true, and you can reframe it by being more honest: “It hurts when my friend ignores my feelings, but she’s been considerate before, and she will be again.”

Making yourself feel guilty. Thinking about actions in terms of “have to” and “should” may make you feel guilty and reinforce your reluctance to do them. Instead of saying something like, “I have to watch less TV at night,” reframe the thought around your goals. For example, you might think, “Watching less TV would help me sleep better.”
How to Stop Negative Self-Talk & Believe in Yourself

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jason Selk, Tom Bartow, and Matthew Rudy's "Organize Tomorrow Today" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Organize Tomorrow Today summary:

  • How to prioritize and prepare for your tasks every day
  • How you can improve your life through positive habits
  • Why you need to break free from a perfectionist mindset

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *