How to Overcome Negative Self-Talk and Enjoy Midlife

African American woman depressed and sad.

Can I be honest? I struggled with negative self-talk for a long time. And it got worse as I approached 40. My self-talk, the inner voice that talked non-stop, was always negative. It never stopped.

It would even turn a compliment into something negative.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say a colleague said, “You look nice today.” My inner critic would turn it into, “I guess you didn’t look nice yesterday.” Does this sound familiar? I can’t be the only one. 

Negative self-talk can lead to depression, anxiety, stress, and anger. Left unchecked, unhappiness and despair will become your new normal. Challenge your negative self-talk or it will control you.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the average life expectancy of a woman is 81 years old. Girlfriend, you are middle age. Stop beating yourself up. You got a whole lot of living to do!

Decide today that you will change the way you talk to yourself. I know. It feels like an impossible task. But guess what? I did it and you can too! Here are some strategies to get you started.

Observe Your Self-Talk

Observe the running commentary in your head. Is it mostly neutral, positive, or negative? 

woman thinking

Let me break it down.

  • The neutral voice narrates events, i.e., I am reading a blog post.
  • The positive voice is motivational, i.e., I believe my life will get better.
  • The negative voice is critical, i.e., My life will always be horrible.

Let me go deeper. 

Uncover the Root Cause

Do you know where your negative self-talk comes from? Begin to find out. Examine it.

Mine started at a young age. It came from the verbal and nonverbal feedback that I received from adults. These adults had expectations that I didn’t meet. 

And you know what happened?

I internalized their negative thoughts about me. Yup, I  sure did. It led to an obsession with perfectionism. My negative self-talk was rooted in feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. I had a paralyzing fear of being judged by others.

Here is the bottom line. 

Negative self-talk is self-defeating and self-destructive. It will  increase your feelings of self-hate and lead to negative emotions.

Depression Word Cloud

Identify Your Triggers

Begin to track your negative self-talk. Learn how it operates. Become aware of its triggers. Be proactive. Have an action plan.

Facebook used to be a trigger for me. Scrolling through everyone’s highlight reels made my negative self-talk spiral out of control. Because I was doing a lot of self-work and seeing little to no results. This made me miserable. Then I discovered the unfollow and snooze features. Use them if you need to.

It all boils down to this.

Thoughts have consequences. Negative thoughts will influence your behavior and create your reality.

Challenge Your Negative Self-Talk

Listening to my inner critic made me an empty shell. I was constantly depressed. Nothing mattered. I was just existing. Can you relate?

Sadness and anxiety

I read dozens of self-help books. But struggled to apply what I was reading. I was up one day and down the next. Does this sound familiar? I kept seeking answers because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Here is what happened next…

I came across the affirmation ‘You Are Enough.’ Those three little words struck a chord with me. I used those three little words to challenge every negative thought.

I thought I struck gold, but I had more to learn. The thought would always return, so I kept reading and seeking answers.

That’s when I discovered that feelings are the language of our subconscious mind. Jackpot!

Do you see how huge that is?

Feelings are the secret sauce that makes your affirmations work.

Manage Your Thoughts and Feelings

I worked on being the embodiment of someone who knew that they were enough. I felt confident. I felt worthy. I began to love and accept myself. Finally, true change started to happen.

Practice being your future self until you become your future self.

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anyone.”

Maya Angelou

Don’t believe me? Let’s examine the opposite. What happens when your negative self-talk says ‘No one loves you?’ You attach feelings of sadness, loneliness, and worthlessness. Your words and feelings create a full existential crisis meltdown.

New mindset new results.

Learn to be intentional about your thoughts and feelings. Look in the mirror and encourage yourself on a daily basis. Here are some affirmations to get you started. Say them, feel them, and manifest them!

  • I am enough!
  • I  am happy.
  • I am beautiful inside and out.
  • I am confident. 
  • I am successful.
  • I love and accept myself.

Some days will be easier than others. Stick with it. Repeat the affirmations until they become your truth.

There is no magic pill or magic wand. Girlfriend, you will have to fight for this. It is important that you know this upfront. Have realistic expectations.

Be Patient with Yourself 

Real change takes time. This isn’t a race. Your life is long. It took me a while to replace my negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Stay focused on the end result. Visualize how amazing your life will be.

Start where you are. Create a new relationship with your mind. Take it one day at a time. It will take a firm commitment, patience, and work.

Motivational

The goal is to get to a place where your self-talk impacts your life in a positive way. Forgive yourself quickly if you entertain a negative thought. Don’t beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us. Acknowledge it, learn from it, and keep it moving. 

Be KIND to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Encourage yourself. Your best life is waiting! You got this! Take Action Now!

You are enough!

Jeanell

“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”

Dalai Lama XI

How do you challenge your negative self-talk?

African American woman experiencing negative thinking and depression.


6 Comments

  1. May 20, 2019 / 11:45 am

    Oh, boy do I ever! I would love to shut that voice up forever. I am trying to pay attention to it and maybe find out why it’s happening, but I think all women fight this on a daily basis.

    • Jeanell
      Author
      May 23, 2019 / 7:53 am

      You may enjoy reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. This book was life-changing for me. He dissects the voices that we hear, so you can overcome them and have inner peace.

  2. May 20, 2019 / 11:35 am

    Great tips. Adel has a song that when it comes on, I turn off. She worries she is not enough and the lyrics imply her significant other thinks she is and she is trying to accept it. It should be inspiring but the melody and her denial make me change dials!

    • Jeanell
      Author
      May 23, 2019 / 7:44 am

      Thank you! I’m not sure which song you are referring to, but I would probably change the dial too. Music that has a sad and somber melody can change your entire mood.

  3. May 4, 2019 / 6:14 pm

    Love this post. Having a simple and NEW “mantra” is so important. Afterall many of us already have a negative mantra…something we repeat to ourselves daily… Why NOT replace it with a positive one! I discovered one new positive self-talk point recently just from LISTENING to the people that I was confiding in and whining to the most. I kept saying that I did this or that because “I’m so stupid.” and they were responding “You aren’t stupid, you acted like a devoted wife who trusted her husband.” At first I chalked it up to my BFF just saying that to be kind and would prefer her to be honest and tell me the truth—that I was stupid. But one day, someone that I didn’t know all that well said it to, and I found myself taking the babystep of “Well, I did this thing b/c I’m stupid but I need to change my self-talk to ‘because I was devoted and trusted my husband’ ” yep, out loud, a few trusted people got that little earful, not for long, I soon decided they did NOT to hear my preamble and I just said “I did that thing b/c I trusted my husband, like devoted wives do…” and bam! soon I started believing it…and NOW I’m moving forward and believing in myself and being true to myself that THAT is just the kind of wife that I WANT to be and being PROUD of that-even though it’s over-I’m proud of the work that I put into it.

    • Jeanell
      Author
      May 5, 2019 / 2:30 pm

      I am so glad that you are moving forward. Surrounding yourself with positive people is essential. I loved that you had an aha moment and realized that your self-talk was hurting you. Consistency is key to replacing the negative voice. It takes a lot of work. But there is happiness on the other side of it. I hear you on the short and sweet mantras. They are easier to remember, own, and get deep down into your subconscious mind. Continue to show up for yourself.

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