At times, everyone gives in to negative self-talk.

You might feel guilty if you let down a friend, and for the next few days, you dwell on it over and over again. Or perhaps you tend to wallow in negative thoughts after making a mistake at work. Your self-talk could be anything from “that was so stupid of me” or “I’m such an idiot” to “I mess everything up” and “I don’t deserve real happiness.”

Sometimes, it can feel like these thoughts just come out of nowhere. Nothing necessarily prompts it, but negative self-talk can actually become a habit. And if you get stuck in these thought patterns for long enough, it can have a serious impact on your mental health.

Here’s how to transform your mindset, improve your self-esteem, and finally move beyond negative self-talk.

1. Reframe the Situation

Let’s be honest—positive platitudes are not necessarily the best way to squash negative self-talk. But thinking about a particular situation from a different perspective can make a world of difference.

When something goes wrong, you might have a tendency to focus on all of the ways you messed up. Sometimes, taking a deep breath and looking at the issue from a new point of view can help. Can the problem be solved, even if it will take a while? If the answer is yes, you probably don’t have much to worry about.

2. Learn from Mistakes

Yes, there are moments when you’ll have to admit that you were wrong about something. You may catch yourself thinking, “I can’t do anything right.” But that doesn’t mean you can never forgive yourself.

If you screwed up, can you step back and see if the situation is actually a learning opportunity? Most of the time, the answer is “yes.” Figuring out how you can learn from your past mistakes can help quell those negative thoughts.  Showing some compassion to and for yourself will go a long way to combat self-criticism and self-contempt for past mistakes.

3. Avoid Comparisons

It’s so easy to compare yourself to other people. Maybe you worry that one of your coworkers will outshine you. Or perhaps you feel ashamed because your friends are in relationships while you’re single.

But the truth is that you never know what’s going on behind the scenes in someone else’s life. And you never know what good news could be right around the corner for you. That’s why comparing yourself to other people is always a dead end.

If you catch yourself getting stuck on these comparisons, take a second to pause and try to focus on something else more helpful and productive, which will keep you moving forward on your own path.

4. Look for Evidence

When you start to believe your negative self-talk, it can be hard to break out of that mindset. How can you prove to yourself that some of your beliefs are false? Start by looking for concrete evidence.

For example, you might be wondering if one of your friends is upset with you. And you may feel totally convinced that you’ve done something wrong. But if you want the truth, the simplest thing to do is ask them if anything is wrong.

If you have proof that contradicts those negative beliefs, it can help you kick those thoughts to the curb.

5. Focus on Breathing

Every once in a while, you just need a tactic that will help you switch your train of thought. Sometimes, briefly shifting your attention to something else can do the trick.

When you notice that you’re getting stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts, one of the easiest things you can do is make a habit of focusing on your breathing. By concentrating on your breath for just a few moments, you might get the momentary distraction that you need and allow the negative thoughts to pass.

Do you struggle with negative self-talk? Have you tried to change your thought patterns, only to find yourself dwelling on self-criticism again? A qualified therapist can help you get to the root of the issue. If you are concerned that your negative self-talk is a sign of depression, read more about depression and depression treatment.  Or feel free to contact me for more information regarding depression treatment.