This is the #1 hack for banishing negative self-talk, according to experts

“I’m a loser.” “I’m not good enough.” “I suck at life.” “I’m going to die alone.” If you’ve ever said any of the above to yourself, you’re not alone. Negative self-talk affects pretty much everyone because we all have our moments of self-doubt. It’s part of being human. The good news is that there is an effective hack that can help you overcome such toxic self-talk.

According to Project Harmony, “self-talk” is a term that’s borrowed from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It’s the internal dialogue you have about a situation or issue. Although it can be helpful for solving problems, it can also be harmful when it takes a turn for the negative. 

There are two main reasons why some people are more prone to negative self-talk than others: a history of depression and hyper-critical parenting. 

“One of the core characteristics of major depressive disorder is negative thoughts about the self. These negative thoughts are actually the precursor for the low mood seen in depression, L.A.-based psychotherapist Natalie Moore tells HelloGiggles. “Furthermore, if you grew up with parents who criticized your every move, you're likely to have internalized that voice that judges and doubts everything you say or do.

When you’ve essentially trained your brain to put yourself down over the years, it can be difficult to tune out the negative noise that keeps finding its way into your thoughts. But there is one thing you can do. 

The #1 hack to overcoming negative self-talk is pretty simple.

Call it out and “challenge the heck out of it,” Kailee Place, licensed professional counselor, tells HelloGiggles. “Taking a few moments to examine your thought and challenge it can help take the emotional impact away. Just a few quick questions can really take the impact and ‘truth’ away from these terrible things we tell ourselves.”

Many times, when you have a negative thought like, “Nobody likes me, I’m such a loser,” the tendency is to accept it. When you accept it, you start to believe it — even if it’s not true. So don’t accept the negativity. Challenge it. Ask yourself, “Why? Why am I saying this to myself? What’s your evidence for that thought? Is it based on assumptions or do you have solid proof? Are you only jumping to conclusions? What are the possible positive options?”

“You may find you've totally jumped to some conclusion, made something up entirely, and then based how you're thinking, feeling, and acting on a complete assumption, Place says. “Going through this process of challenging will help you feel more accurately, and if needed, problem solve from a more neutral, helpful place. 

It may not take the negative thought away completely, but it can have a way of lessening its impact so you can think more rationally. When you’re able to think clearly, it’s easier to counteract that negative self-talk with a healthy dose of positivity.

As Moore tells us, engaging in self-compassion exercises can help you learn to really love yourself. For instance, you can place your hand on your heart and give yourself positive affirmations. Tell yourself something that a supportive friend might say. “Self-compassion differs from positive self-talk in that it simply acknowledges the difficulty the person is having and expresses compassion for the challenging experience and feelings,” she says. 

Being positive all the time is pretty impossible, and it isn’t necessarily something you should strive for. Negative self-talk is going to happen whether you want it to or not. But as long as you recognize it’s happening and challenge it, you can take the necessary next steps to overcome it. And always remember: be nice to yourself. 

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