How to Overcome Negative Self-Talk and Enjoy Midlife

African American woman depressed and sad.

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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.

My mind consistently focused on the negative side of every situation. This negative mindset led to a long battle with depression, and unhappiness became my new normal.

So what’s the solution?

Decide today that you will change the way you talk to yourself. It’s time to ditch the negative self-talk and be your own cheerleader. Why? Because it’s time to start living your best life. You may want to check out this article on Redefining Happiness at Midlife.

Here are some tips to help you change your inner critical voice.

Observe Your Self-Talk

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

woman thinking
  • The positive voice is optimistic. 
  • The neutral voice narrates events.
  • The negative voice is pessimistic.

Be mindful of how you talk to yourself because you are listening. The way you talk to yourself matters because it creates your reality.

Uncover the Root Cause

Do you know the root cause of your negative self-talk? If not, it’s time to find out.

Mine came from the verbal and nonverbal feedback I received from adults. These adults had expectations I didn’t meet.

And you know what happened?

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

Negative self-talk is self-destructive. Listening to your inner critic makes you feel worthless.

It’s time to let go of old negative beliefs so you can move forward.

Identify Your Triggers

Pay attention to your negative self-talk so you know how it operates. Research says social media platforms tend to increase depression and loneliness.

Depression Word Cloud

Spend less time on social media if highlights reels are a trigger for you. Unfollow people who make you feel bad about yourself.

Surround yourself with people and things that inspire you.

Empower Yourself

Self-help books can empower you with knowledge so you can pull yourself out of a dark place. The key is to take what you read and apply it to your life.

Sadness and anxiety

Here are some tips to get results from self-help books.

  • Don’t read self-help books the same way you read fictional books. Read the table of contents and focus on relevant sections.
  • First, read through the chapter. Then, reread and highlight important parts. Last but not least, write a summary of the highlighted parts.
  • Create and commit to an action plan.
  • Stay focused on your goals.
  • Hold yourself accountable to your goals.
  • Find an accountability partner.

Retrain Your Mindset

Change starts with self-love. Self-love makes you challenge negative self-talk. Stop saying things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend.

Positive affirmations are an effective way to retrain your mindset. Choose a meaningful affirmation and repeat it several times a day. Emotionally connect with the affirmation. Act as if the affirmation is your truth. Feel all the amazing feelings.

Believe the following:

  • You were always enough.
  • You are enough.
  • You will always be enough.

Your thoughts and feelings create your reality, so be intentional about them.

New mindset new results.

Be Patient With Yourself 

Real change takes time. You won’t replace your negative self-talk overnight. The goal is to get to a place where your self-talk positively impacts your life. Stay focused, and don’t give up. Be kind to yourself and take it one day at a time.


How do you challenge your negative self-talk?

African American woman experiencing negative thinking and depression.




  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
      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
      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
      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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