These Negative Self Talk Examples Show How Brutal Your Mind Can Be

negative self talk

The average person thinks 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. And the majority are examples of negative self-talk.

Self talk literally means talking to ourselves in our minds. It is a seemingly minor thing, and yet it can have a massive effect on our self confidence.

Positive self talk boosts our mood and creates healthy self confidence. But when we talk to ourselves negatively we tear ourselves down and massively reduce our self esteem. In fact, some self talk can be so negative that it even causes depression.

That’s why one of the traits of positive people is that they monitor their self talk. We positive types simply do not allow negative self talk to exist in our minds.

Trick is: It can be hard to know if a thought is positive self talk or negative. Sure, “I hate myself” is easy, but what about, “I should be happy?” Is that positive because it is focused on happiness, or negative because you’re telling yourself how you should feel?

The following examples of negative self talk reveal the types of thoughts we need to change. If you spot yourself thinking in these ways, use these positive thinking methods to stop it.



11 Negative Self Talk Examples To Watch Out For

#1 : “If only” thoughts:

The problem with “If only” thoughts is that they can be used as excuses: “If only he / she would. . .”

Often, when we put a conditional on something, we are holding ourselves back.

For instance, “I’d be happy if only I had a better job”.

This statement logically prevents us from being happy now. Yes, it would be good to have a good job, but we can be happy without one.

Rectify this with a “but even if”:

“I’d be happy with a better job, but even if I don’t get one I will still be okay”.


 2: “Should” thoughts :

Yuck, “should” is such a horrible word, in self talk or in conversation. Should makes you feel obligated and powerless as it robs you of choice. Use “Want” instead. “I should lose weight.” NOPE. “I want to lose weight” is better . Make sure you avoid this positive self talk killer at all costs.

You can make “should” thoughts better by including a plan.

For instance:

  1. if you think “I should lose weight”.
  2. Change it to, “I want to lose weight”.
  3. Then add a plan. “I want to lose weight so I am going to get a gym membership”.
  4. And then actually do it.

This turns your should thoughts into a positive action.



 #3 “When” thoughts

When thoughts are not always a problem.

However, when thoughts can become an issue in a similar way to If thoughts. The problem is that when we put a future date on something we prevent ourselves from doing it now.

Be careful of cases such as “When he finally makes room for a treadmill I’ll get in shape.” Negative self talk like this makes prevents you from taking actions right now.

Here’s how to correct a when thought:

  1. Take the When Thought, e.g. “I’ll get fit when I have more time”
  2. Now tell yourself that you need to create the conditional in order to get the result: “I need to make more time to get in shape”
  3. Then make a plan, “I need to make more time to get in share, therefore I am going to stop watching TV”.




 #4 “Have to” thoughts:

This is an example of negative self talk that forces a negative on the situation and also makes us feel obligated to do something.

have to make dinner implies that we absolutely must make dinner and we do not want to.

This is inaccurate and unhelpful.

Change it like this:

  1. I have to make dinner 
  2. want to make dinner because I’m hungry 
  3. Feel free to add an alternative: I want to make dinner because I’m hungry, or I could order in




5: “Try” thoughts :

Do or do not, there is no try, said Yoda, and he was right. Saying you’ll “try” to do something is setting yourself up for failure. Use WILL.

The main problem with try thoughts is that they are defeatist. They already imply that we might fail. That’s not good for positivity.

Turn this negative self talk to a positive. All you have to do is turn Try into Will. 

  1. I will try to run a marathon
  2. will run a marathon


#6 “Can’t” thoughts :

Oh boy, this is one of the biggest examples of negative self talk. Can’t are almost always brutal. They set up the negative self belief that we are incapable.

For instance, “I can’t get a promotion”. The second you think you can’t, your’e done, because your mind will make the negative belief a reality. Obviously, just change it to can.

There is another category of Can’t Thoughts, thoughts where we are warning ourselves. I can’t have a cigarette.

We can make this self talk more positive too by adding a because and a therefore.

Deal with Can’t thoughts like this:

I can’t have a cigarette

[add a reason ]I can’t have a cigarette because I worked so hard to quit

[make it positive] I will stay off cigarettes because I worked so hard to quit

[even more positive] I will stay off cigarettes because I worked so hard to quit and I deserve to be healthy

Lazy thoughts

Another example of negative self talk involves sheer laziness. These are thoughts that lack specific details and plans. 

I’m going to be a millionaire. 


The maths show that with my current stock investments rising at the rate they are, I will make a million this year.

Now that’s optimistic and specific.


 #8 : “Better”  :

Such a throwaway word.

What is better?

According to whom?

What criteria governs better or worse?

Odds are if you’re saying you want something to be “better” you’re simply expressing that you feel inadequate in some way (e.g wanting to be a better person implies not currently being good enough).

If you catch yourself using “Better” in goal setting, take the time to ask yourself precisely what it is you want and make clear and specific aims.

“I’d be better if I were fit” is better like this: “I would feel better about myself id I lost 10 pounds over the next three months”.



#9: “Some day” thoughts :

Lines like “some day I’ll be rich” aren’t necessarily harmful, they’re simply ineffective. Remember to be specific. “By age 34 I’ll be a millionaire because I will have published a best selling novel.”



#10 :“More” thoughts:

This is near identical to the “better” situation because ultimately you’re merely expressing that you don’t have enough of something. In this case, take the time to ask yourself exactly how much of something you want, and the same is true for the word “less.” For instance, don’t say “I want to weight less” say “I want to weight 10 pounds less OR I want to weigh 120 lbs”



 #11: “Eventually” :

Possibly the worst word of them all. EVENTUALLY puts you at the mercy of time. Focus on what you can do now, in the present moment.

Eventually I will be someone


By March the 18th of this year I will get promoted at work and will be feeling good about my career.



So, there we are, the most dangerous examples of self talk.  How many do you suffer from?

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