5 Steps to Combating Negative Self-talk


Ever heard of the saying ‘’ the first signs of madness is talking to yourself’’?

We all talk to ourselves. A lot.

For me, the conversation can start as early as 6am when the air is ‘nice’ and frosty. My brain says ‘get up!’ while my limbs say ‘nice try, no thank you’.

I know my voice in my head is the loudest when I do something embarrassing, like tripping in public.

To harm minimise, I tell my self ‘’ just keep walking, nothing happened, you are good’’- haha! 

Whilst this type of inner dialogue allows me to pick myself up (literally), I can just as easily bring myself down with the negative self-talk.

Sometimes the voice in your head can be helpful. Other times, your inner voice can do serious damage. 

We all have different triggers that amplify that negative voice in our heads.

Maybe you compare yourself to others, didn’t reach a goal you set or ate a little more than intended.

We’ve all been there at some point.

Imagine this.

You arrive at your friend’s dinner party; spot the dee-licious dessert table. Automatically, you give yourself reasons to keep a 10-metre radius of the table- at all costs.

I need to eat healthy”

“I have to stay on track"
“I can’t give in, I’ll gain weight’’

Or worse, 

"You're too fat to eat dessert".
"People will judge you for eating junk food" 
"No more cake for you, fatty" 

Sound familiar? Our internal voice can be really mean. 

Whilst you might feel like this negative self-talk is helpful and helps you stay 'in control' around food, it is often the major reason we end up diving head first into the dessert table. 

Now, we believe there is willpower and will power for the right reasons.

When willpower starts to control your night, causes anxiety, or stresses you out; we need to take that voice and responsibly place it in the bin.

Negative self talk can actually sabotage your relationship with food and yourself.

Imagine you had a friend who followed you around, complaining that you weren't good enough, all day - every day.

My guess is that you would quickly show them the door. 

But when the negative nancy is you - it gets a bit more tricky. 

The exciting news is that you can turn that negative voice off. 

You can transform the voice in your head from enemy to ally by following these simple strategies. 

1. Become aware 

The first step to combatting negative self-talk is becoming aware that you are doing it! Listen out for the voices in your head and acknowledge when your innner mean girl speaks up. 

Breath in deeply and remember the reasons why you are at this event and the great memories you plan to take from it. Rationalise with the bully in your brain and remind yourself why you deserve better. 

It is a hard task turning off that negative voice in your head but the more you do it, the easier it gets! Believe me, it is worth it!

2.  Turn that "I can’t" into "I can".

Instead of associating your time with I can’t and I shouldn’t, focus on things that you can do.

For example,

  • Catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a long time.

  • Start a conversation with someone you don’t know.

  • Dance with your friends instead of sitting down.

  • Acknowledge that nothing is off limits and fill up on foods you know have more nutritional value first. Hey, maybe you’ll visit the dessert table later on?

By doing this, you take your focus off consciously exercising that willpower which can turn sour pretty quickly. 

3.  Exercise perspective

So it is coming to the end of the night and all your friends are walking around with something delicious in their hand. 

The only thing missing in yours is a slice of that chocolate cake you’ve been eyeing since you’ve arrived…aside from eye candy at 3 o’clock.

Ask yourself :

- Are you exercising will power for a positive reason or are you still listening to that negative voice that says ‘’You can’t / shouldn’t ...’’?

- What would you say to your best friend if they were in the same situation?

- Will having a piece of cake really affect you tomorrow, next week, next month and ruin your personal goals?

- Is this thinking about the dessert affecting you more than it should?

By reasoning with your self, you separate what is logical to personal insecurities that can easily cloud your judgement. In fact, you can practice this reasoning in your daily life.

Take dessert out of the equation and ask yourself;

Is there something in my life that causes me to doubt yourself, winds me up or gets more attention than it deserves?

Make it a goal to challenge yourself in fighting that negative self-talk that says you can’t do something or you’re too ........ ­­(insert negative thought).

4. Change your attitude (and language!)

Try swapping negative words for positive ones. 'Reframe' your sentence to be more positive and adopt a healthier relationship with food. 

Negative: "I'm not allowed to eat cake because I need to lose weight"

Positive: "I am always allowed to eat cake. If I really feel like a piece of cake, I can have one. But do I really feel like cake?". 

If the answer is yes, permit yourself to have a piece. One peice of cake eaten with enjoyment is far better than bingeing on an entire dessert table and being left with guilt. 

Sometimes it is better to make a small sacrafice one day and avoid uncontrollable, over-eating the next day.  

5. Start small and positive

If you’re prone to negative self-talk, it can be hard to simply flip the situation or turn off that voice in your head.

But remember that it is possible - with a bit of practice. 

Start by taking little steps.  Each morning, wake up with 2 positive thoughts beginning with I can and I will! Write them down. 

Avoid calling yourself names, accept compliments from other people and in fact, compliment yourself! – I dare you! 

Like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it will get. Before you know it, it will be much easier to turn that negative voice off despite the situation you face; either in a social setting or in your day-to-day life.

Join us in practicing positive self-talk, so that together we can silence that negative talk!

About the author

With hobbies like sushi, baking and brunch - it is fair to say that Bella Leung has a special connection with food. Luckily, Bella isn't the kind of girl to restrict what she eats just to squeeze into a smaller size dress. Instead, she advocates 'listening to your body'' and ditching the diet. I guess you can see why we love her! We are lucky to have Bella as our PR and Marketing Coordinator - she's a gun. Follow her delicious foodie adventures via Instagram @breakfastxgreens.

Lyndi Cohen