Personal Development

Watch Out For These Kinds Of Negative Self-Talk

This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Negative self-talk can take many forms, from thinking we’re not smart enough or pretty enough to being harshly critical of the way we do our jobs or parent our children. Negative self-talk can cause us to feel more badly about ourselves and even be damaging to our health.

Sometimes those negative feelings can become overwhelming, and it becomes necessary to seek help with a therapist or your doctor. One option to consider is online therapy. There are platforms like high quality online therapy that can often match you with a licensed therapist in 24-48 hours.

Online therapy also may help make the process more convenient. You can meet with a therapist from the comfort of your home, instead of having to drive to an appointment. Just remember there are options out there, and you’re not alone. There’s help out there for dealing with negative emotions.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the different kinds of unhealthy self-talk that can sabotage your health and wellbeing and how to spot them.

Watch Out For These Kinds Of Negative Self-Talk
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Why Learn To Identify Unhelpful Self-Talk?

Before we get into the different types of negative self-talk, it’s important to understand why. Getting to know your inner critic can help you identify negative self-talk you didn’t even realize you were engaging in. Often people don’t understand how negative they’re being, which prevents them from acknowledging and addressing their harmful inner critic. That means the first step in unwinding damaging self-talk is to identify it, so we can challenge these distortions.

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Negative Self-Talk Affects Women More Than Men

Being one’s own harshest critic can be damaging for anyone. Yet women are more prone to negative self-talk than men. In studies, women are more likely to repeatedly engage in negative self-talk. Many people are surprised when they realize how often they say negative things to themselves, and it’s important for women to be aware that they may be more vulnerable to negative forms of self-talk.

Know The Different Types of Negative Self-Talk

Catastrophizing Self-Talk

In general terms, a catastrophe is a major event that causes a large group of people to suffer. In negative self-talk, catastrophizing is the process of thinking the worst will happen in any situation. So, while running 15-minutes late to meet a friend for coffee isn’t ideal, it probably won’t ruin your entire day or cause the end of your friendship.

Have you recently turned a small bump in the road into a giant pothole by blowing up your negative thought? Think of the ways you may have turned a small, unpleasant event into a full-blown disaster movie. Pay attention to feedback too. If a friend encourages you to think of something that’s gone awry as no big deal and to be more positive, begin to examine your self-talk for catastrophizing tendencies.

Filtering Self-Talk

Filtering is an insidious form of negative self-talk that can creep its way into almost every part of your life. With filtering, you block out any positive aspects of a situation and magnify the negative aspects. An example of filtering would be if you took your dog to the vet and the dog had a healthy checkup, but they also needed to receive a minor treatment. Your dog is healthy in almost every way other than that one small issue, so you filter out the fact all of the results and test showing that your dog is pretty healthy. Then you start to worry about your dog’s health.

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Think of ways you filter out compliments and positive events, leaving you to dwell more on negative thoughts. Try keeping a journal of positive moments to focus on. Writing your thoughts in a gratitude journal can also help you to focus on all of the good you may sometimes overlook.

Personalizing Self-Talk

Do you ever blame yourself for something that happened – even if it was outside of your control? Personalizing can take many forms in negative self-talk. For example, if your child got a low grade on a test you helped them study for. You then begin blaming yourself, even though you weren’t the one taking the test.

Feeling responsible for things that are outside your ability to control can lead to stress and anxiety. Challenge how you personalize events in your life to make it feel like you’re to blame.

Polarizing Self-Talk

Polarizing self-talk leads one to believe everything is black or white, good or bad. This turns your daily life into a series of binary decisions with no middle ground, and little room for compassion. Let’s say you’ve made it a point to hit the treadmill every morning, and you miss a day because you’re feeling sick. That’s no reason to pounce on yourself and call yourself lazy, sometimes we all need a break.

We’re all human, and we all deserve to be treated compassionately. Polarizing self-talk can be damaging across so many facets of life and cause you to distort many positive events that could bring a sense of joy and accomplishment.

It’s important to recognize polarizing self-talk when you hear it, so you can dismantle these unhealthy thought patterns. To help become more compassionate with yourself, try using positive affirmations that encourage you to be kinder to yourself.

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Fortune Telling Self-Talk

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the future and know the lottery numbers this week? Of course it’s ridiculous to think someone can predict the future. Yet that’s exactly what humans do in this form of negative self-talk. Fortune telling is a form of negative self-talk that occurs when people ignore facts and try to predict what will happen, often based on their negative bias. Even though there’s no evidence to support their guess.

Fortune telling often happens in times of stress, like after going on a date. If you’re in the habit of fortune telling, this type of negative self-talk might lead you to jump to the worst possible scenario and say to yourself there’s no way they’d want another date with you.

Unless you can guess the lottery numbers every week, then it may be time to let up on yourself with the guessing. And that’s all your “predictions” are is a guess. Find the evidence to support your negative predictions, and avoid overgeneralizations to help overcome the tendency for toward this form of negative self-talk.


Once you can identify these negative thought patterns, you’ll also be better prepared to stop them. Be kind to yourself throughout the process, and don’t hesitate to seek help with a therapist or in online therapy. Identifying and ending negative self-talk can help you create a happier, more joy-filled life.

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