self talk patterns
Tips for Changing Negative Self-Talk Patterns In Depression

The way you talk to yourself has more impact on your mental health than you may realize. Everyone has an inner critic – an inner voice criticizing what you do and how you look and trying to tell you what you deserve. While everyone has an inner critic, some are crueler than others and can lead to recurring negative self-talk patterns. 

negative self talk patterns

Negative self-talk and depression typically go hand-in-hand. Listening to your harsh inner critic and giving in to what it tells you makes overcoming depression challenging. 

That’s why it’s vital to identify harsh negative self-talk patterns, unpack their origins, and take steps to change them. And, before you ask, yes, changing negative self-talk patterns is absolutely doable. The best first step to doing this is to partner with a trusted mental health professional who can help you identify harmful self-talk patterns and give you helpful tools and strategies to change the way you talk to yourself. 

Much of the work you do to change negative self-talk patterns happens outside of therapy, in daily life. In this article, we’ll give you some practical tips you can start working on today.

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The Link Between Negative Self-Talk and Depression

Negative self-talk essentially exacerbates depression. It’s nearly impossible to overcome feelings of hopelessness and overwhelming sadness when you continually beat yourself up internally. 

Some of the ways in which negative self-talk contributes to depression include the following:

  • Self-criticism and low self-esteem: When your inner critic berates you with statements like, “I’m a failure” and “I’m so stupid,” it’s tough to feel anything but horribly about yourself. When you let your negative self-talk patterns continue without trying to change them, you fuel depression symptoms, making it difficult to enjoy life. (You’re worth more than that!)
  • Rumination: Talking negatively to yourself often leads to rumination, where you dwell on perceived flaws and shortcomings. Rumination makes experiencing positive mood states very difficult and adds to feelings of despair and helplessness, which are tell-tale signs of depression. (More about rumination below.)
  • Cognitive distortions: Telling yourself not-so-nice things about yourself repeatedly can lead to exaggerated thinking, also called cognitive distortion. You may find yourself experiencing all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralizing, and personalization, which is blaming yourself for external events. 
  • Adaptive coping skills become inhibited: Blaming yourself, catastrophizing, and avoiding things due to negative self-talk increases distress and adds to depressive symptoms. This interferes with your ability to cope with life’s stressors and challenges effectively. 
  • Isolation: One of the many symptoms of depression is isolating yourself away from the world. When you engage in negative self-talk, you are more likely to withdraw from social activities, neglect self-care, and avoid getting the help you need. And the more you isolate yourself, the lonelier and more depressed you’re likely to feel.
How Rumination Plays a Role in Negative Self-Talk and Depression

How Rumination Plays a Role in Negative Self-Talk and Depression

Rumination, engaging in repetitive negative thought patterns, is fuel for harmful self-talk. Worrying about the future, replaying past scenarios, or attempting to predict how things will turn out are all a part of rumination. 

It’s easy to see how rumination plays a role in negative self-talk and depression. When your mind is preoccupied with worry, self-doubt, and criticism about yourself, it’s difficult to break the cycle of negative thinking. It can lead to self-talk patterns that are harmful to your mental health and can easily contribute to depression

Ruminating thoughts can include things like:

“I’m not smart enough to do this,”

“I never do anything right. Why should I expect anything differently?”

“I’m going to mess this up,”

And so on. 

Ruminating thoughts can lead to negative self-talk and can be triggered by things like:

  • a “failed” relationship
  • perfectionism
  • low self-esteem
  • an upcoming stressful event
  • facing a fear or phobia
  • a recent traumatic event

Simply put, rumination is the constant preoccupation of negative thoughts or self-talk patterns. Taking steps to reduce rumination will, in turn, reduce negative self-talk patterns and help change negative patterns into more positive, healthier ways of thinking. This is essential when battling depression.

Helpful Tips To Help You Change Negative Self-Talk

Breaking habits is hard to do in any area of your life. But how do you stop negative self-talk patterns when you are only aware of what they are? It can be challenging, but it requires committing to yourself. If you are tired of feeling defeated by your harsh inner critic, it’s time to take action and do what you can to change your thinking patterns proactively. 

You deserve to treat yourself better. 

Here are some tips to change negative self-talk

We understand when you’re trapped in the endless cycle of negative self-talk, it can be challenging to believe you deserve to treat yourself better. That’s where commitment to yourself and future life fulfillment comes in. 

We should also mention that doing this alone can be way too overwhelming, which is why partnering with a mental health professional is the best thing you can do. 

Here are some tips to change negative self-talk:

Identify your inner critic. 

The first step to changing negative self-talk patterns is to catch your harsh inner critic in the act. You may have been engaging in negative self-talk for so long that it’s become a habit you don’t even notice anymore. 

Stay mindful of what you’re saying to yourself, like when you say, “Ew, I look gross,” or “I’m such an idiot.” Catch yourself in the act and ask yourself if you would say this to a good friend or loved one. If not, it’s time to reframe what you’re saying to yourself into something healthier.

Name your inner critic.

Once you identify the harmful things you’re saying to yourself, one practical thing you can do is to give your inner critic a nickname. It can be anything you like, even your middle name. This way, when your inner critic starts putting you down, you can call it by its nickname, separate yourself from the negative self-talk, and work on saying kinder things to yourself.

If not positive, try neutral self-talk.

It can be challenging to change negative self-talk to positive immediately. You may try to “fake it until you make it,” but if it doesn’t feel sincere, you may be unable to keep it up. If you don’t yet feel comfortable praising yourself, try just being kinder to yourself. 

For example, if you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped on a work presentation, instead of telling yourself you’re a failure and can’t do anything right, try telling yourself that it’s okay to be disappointed. Then, tell yourself that it’s a learning experience you can use to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Try speaking what you’re saying out loud.

Giving a literal voice to your harsh inner critic can help you see how unreasonable those thoughts are. Say them aloud or share your thoughts with a trusted friend or mental health professional. Sharing negative self-talk with others can help you reframe your thinking and allow others to give you more realistic, positive self-talk ideas.

Try speaking what you’re saying out loud

Consider thought-stopping.

When you find yourself participating in negative self-talk, try a technique called “thought-stopping.” It’s a simple practice, but it can be highly effective. When you identify negative self-talk, do a specific action, such as picturing a stop sign, gently snapping a rubber band on your wrist, or even saying “STOP!” out loud. This can reveal how often you talk badly to yourself and allows you to change your thinking.

Write it and repeat it. 

Building healthier self-talk patterns takes practice. It’s not going to happen overnight. When you take part in negative self-talk for years on end, you’ve trained your brain to think that way, and you need to change that path. 

Consider writing down positive thoughts about yourself and repeating them daily. Over time, you will be able to identify negative self-talk patterns more effectively and call to mind more positive thoughts more readily.

Our Team of Experts Can Help You Shift Negative Self-Talk Through Depression Treatment in San Diego

Negative self-talk and depression are really hard to overcome on your own. When you partner with our team of clinicians at BOLD Health for depression therapy in San Diego, you gain an ally in your journey to overcome depression and negative self-talk. We’ll take the time to get to know you and what brought you to our door and curate the ideal treatment plan for you. 

Our holistic depression treatment in San Diego is comprehensive and tailored to your needs. Your treatment plan may include some of the following:

Finding depression therapy in San Diego shouldn’t be an added stress for you. Contact us to learn more about our options for depression treatment so you can begin speaking to yourself more kindly and get the help you need to overcome depression. 

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