The Stories We Tell Ourselves: How to Ditch Negative Self-Talk and Change Your Life


There’s something you may be doing every single day that is sabotaging you.

Not just your present self, but your future self too.

Doing this thing can get in the way of your goals, your relationships, and your overall happiness.

But it’s something that you can change.

So, what’s that big, bad thing you’re doing that you shouldn’t?

Telling yourself negative stories.

Let me get one thing straight before we dive into this any further:

We ALL tell ourselves stories.

We tell stories about other people… and about ourselves. We tell stories about our past, our present, and our future.

These stories aren’t necessarily untrue. In fact, to us, they are THE truth… simply because they’re how we interpret things.

But these stories we tell ourselves aren’t full in and of themselves — they’re just the perspective that we’ve latched on to. Sometimes it’s because other people (or society) have guided our perspectives. And sometimes, these perspectives are just the ones we’ve adopted on our own, for one reason or another.

The problem isn’t the stories themselves, though. It’s when the stories that we tell about ourselves are negative that things become problematic.

Common Examples of Negative Self-Talk

Here are some of the negative stories that I hear people tell themselves on a regular basis:

  • I suck at managing my money/time management/keeping my house in order.
  • I attract the wrong kind of men/women.
  • He/she doesn’t like me because I’m fat/boring/old.
  • I’m not good at anything!
  • I’m so awkward. That’s why I can’t find love.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I could/should be doing more.
  • I should be much further along in life than I am now.
  • I’m going to be poor/fat/single forever.
  • I’m never going to be able to do this.

I could go on forever… and I’m sure you could probably think of some examples to add to this list. But we’ll come back to that later. For now, let’s talk about WHY negative self-talk is such a huge problem.

The Problem with Negative Self-Talk

When the stories that we tell ourselves are negative in nature, they can wreak all sorts of havoc in our lives. Here are just some of the toxic effects of negative self-talk

Limiting Beliefs

One of the most obvious problems with negative self-talk is that it can lead you to have really low expectations… of yourself and of life in general. When you live your life feeling these senses of worthlessness, incompetence, and overall negativity, it makes you feel like there’s a cap on your happiness, your potential, or your ability to have the things you want in life. For example, if you constantly tell yourself that you attract the wrong kind of people into your life, it can make you feel like there’s no way you’re ever going to attract the kind of people that would make your life feel rich and full. You feel like there’s a limit to what you can have (or even a limit to what you deserve). Which brings us to the next problem…

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

When you feel, way deep down, that “this is how life is, this is how I am, and that’s just what it is”, what happens is that you behave in accordance with your beliefs. This is fantastic news when you’re someone who is positive and has a lot of self-confidence. Those people feel like they can’t be stopped and the sky’s the limit. So, guess what? They are usually the people who achieve a lot in life. Why? Because they typically BEHAVE like they can’t be stopped and the sky’s the limit. However, it also works the opposite way. If you move through life believing negatively, you tend to behave in a way that aligns with that belief… even if you don’t think you do. For example, if you tell yourself “I suck at marketing”, you might feel so self-conscious that you don’t put yourself out there. Which means you never get a chance to improve at marketing. So you stay stuck at the beginner’s level where you get little to no results.

Living in Fear

In addition to feeling self-conscious, negative self-talk can also lead to feelings of outright fear. When you believe something negative about yourself, it can make you afraid to do the kinds of things that you want to do or that you need to do. For example, if you want to start a business from home, but believe the stories you tell yourself about not being good at anything, chances are you won’t feel confident enough to even TRY to do something. Because, in your mind, there’s nothing you’re good at that people would want to pay you for.

Playing Small

Something that goes hand in hand with living in fear is playing small. You may have enough belief in yourself to try something and put yourself out there… but you never really go “all in”. Instead, you play small because playing small keeps you safe… just in case things start to fall apart. You don’t take risks and you don’t really step into your full power or potential. Because, to you, the only thing worse than not hitting your goal is giving it your all and still falling flat on your face. So you just don’t take the chance of that happening… which means you can’t possibly reach the great heights you’re capable of.

Low Self-Image

Another toxic effect of negative self-talk is low self-image. You may think that negative self-talk is the RESULT of low self-image, but it can also work the opposite way. You listen to your inner voice tell you, over and over again, that you’re this negative and that negative thing… and, eventually, you start to believe it.

Depression and Anxiety

When you internalize so much negativity about yourself, it should come as no surprise that it can lead to depression and anxiety. Or, at the very least, it can worsen them.

Relationship Issues

Negative self-talk doesn’t just impact you… it can impact the people around you as well. It can also have a negative impact on your relationships with people. For example, if you constantly tell yourself that you’re boring or fat or ugly or whatever else your brain throws at you, it can make you do all kinds of things that aren’t exactly healthy. It can make you put up emotional walls with people. It can make you constantly question how people feel about you. It can make you dependent on people for your happiness… and when they’re unable to make you happy, it can cause you AND them to feel negatively.


And, of course, I couldn’t leave this conversation about the toxic effects of negative self-talk without bringing up regret. Because when we live in a mindset where we live in fear, play small, avoid risks, and unintentionally sabotage relationships, it can cause us to have regrets late in life (or now). For example, if you believe that you’re not good enough to pursue your big dream, you might end up regretting later the fact that you didn’t even try. You’ll live with that nagging question of “What if I had tried?”.

What to Do About Negative Self-Talk

I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to remain a captive audience to negative self-talk.

You have the ability to rewrite those stories and create a different, happier, more fulfilled version of yourself. 

Even if you’ve been this way your entire life, as long as you’re living and breathing, you have the ability to create change in your life.

Here are some of the steps you can take to shift your negative self-talk into something positive:

Uncover the Source of Your Negative Stories

One thing that I encourage people to do is to try to get to the root of the negative stories they tell themselves. Sometimes we can trace it back to a specific event or time in our lives. Sometimes we realize that we’ve inherited those beliefs from our family. Other times, we realize that we let society or the media guide our beliefs about ourselves. When you get to the root of WHY you started telling yourself these negative stories, you’re in a much better position to counter them. It can help to journal about it. Ask yourself questions like “Why do I believe…?”. If you hear an actual voice when you think these negative thoughts, it can also be helpful to ask what the voice sounds like. Does it sound like you or someone you know? This can sometimes give you even more clues about why those thoughts exist in the first place. For example, you may find that something you think about yourself is actually something that you heard frequently growing up… either directed at you or even a loved one talking badly about themselves. You’d be surprised how often we inherit our negative self-talk subconsciously from loved ones.

Determine the Truth About Your Self-Talk

Another thing to do is to determine whether or not there is truth in the stories you tell yourself. Journaling can come in handy here as well. Ask yourself questions like “What evidence supports…?” and “What evidence contradicts…?” This will help you understand get clear on whether the self-talk you engage in is unfounded or if it is something that needs to be reframed in a way that motivates change rather than just makes you feel bad about yourself.

Reframe Them Into Positive Stories

Now here is the important part! It’s time for you to tell yourself new, healthier, positive stories. Take each negative story you tell yourself and turn it into something positive or constructive. Here are some examples:

Instead of saying…

  1. I suck at managing my money/time management.
  2. I attract the wrong kind of men/women.
  3. He/she doesn’t like me because I’m fat/boring/old.
  4. I’m not good at anything!
  5. I’m so awkward. That’s why I can’t find love.
  6. I’m not good enough.
  7. I could/should be doing more.
  8. I should be much further along in life than I am now.
  9. I’m going to be poor/fat/single forever.
  10. I’m never going to be able to do this.

You can say…

  1. Today is a new day and I can use my money/time more wisely.
  2. I will be the type of person who makes XYZ kinds of people flock to me.
  3. I have a lot of great qualities that make me worth knowing.
  4. I’m good at XYZ.
  5. I’m loveable.
  6. I’m enough.
  7. I have achieved things in life that I should be proud of.
  8. Things will happen in my life exactly when they should.
  9. I have the power to create the kind of life I love.
  10. I’m capable of doing anything if I have a plan.

Take out a piece of paper and write down all of the negative stories you tell yourself. Then write down the more positive replacement.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

I would be lying if I said that it’s easy to change your mindset. It’s not. It takes consistent work. You’re not going to be able to just snap your fingers and replace the negative thoughts in your head for good. That’s why it’s important that you repeat these positive stories (or affirmations) to yourself whenever you catch yourself thinking something negative. Like I said, it won’t be easy… but it will be worth it. As you intentionally shift your mindset toward something positive, you will start to experience a shift in how you behave… which can cause a shift in your life.

I hope that this helps you to replace negative self-talk and focus more on the positive so that you can live a happier, more fulfilling life. Have any questions or comments? Let me know below!


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