Stopping Negative Self Talk


I often ask new psychotherapy clients what they would think if they were out to dinner and heard a parent barraging a child at a nearby dinner table with all of the negative things they say to themselves. “You’re stupid.” “You’re disgusting.” “Why don’t you use the brains you were born with.” “Can’t you do anything right?” They usually say they would intervene, or call Child Protective Services or the police. They clearly see treating a child in that way as abuse.

When we were little, we may have heard those things from critical parents, but as adults we are the person treating the vulnerable parts of ourselves in abusive ways. I believe it is reasonable to see a parent constantly criticizing a child as a way of brainwashing him or her. Self-criticism can be seen in the same way. We may be berating ourselves hundreds of times a day, and, to me, that is brainwashing ourselves.

If our mind can be brainwashed in the first place, we can also brainwash it to think positive thoughts. I’ve always been very skeptical of affirmation programs that have people stand in front of mirrors and say an affirmation to themselves once or twice a day. But I’ve found it very effective for myself, and for clients, to flood our minds with an affirmation.

I recommend the affirmation be said at least 1,000 times a day for 21 days, using some kind of counter. (Talley counters are available at office supply stores and IPhone has an app called Counter +). While 1,000 is effective, I found if I said the affirmation in the realm of 10,000-15,000 times a day, it started going through my mind automatically. I even woke up at night and discovered my mind saying it on its own.

Imagine saying, “I am lovable, or “It is okay for me to make mistakes,” “ My needs are important,” or “I am a competent, capable adult” 1,000 to 20,000 times a day rather than all the critical comments you usually tell yourself.

It doesn’t matter how fast you say or think the affirmation. You can do 1,000 of the short ones in 20 minutes. Once you have picked an affirmation, stick with the same one for 21 days. If you want to switch to a new one after 21 days that is fine, but don’t switch midstream. If you need ideas other than the ones I mentioned above consider using one of the Affirmations for Letting Go I shared in an earlier blog. Any positive statement said to yourself in high quantities will work.

So are you interested in experimenting with brainwashing your mind with good things? Try it. I’d love to hear about your experience.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

35 thoughts on “Stopping Negative Self Talk

      1. 🙂 your welcome. I find affirmations so critical to my process. I have been doing them long before I started therapy. I just hadn’t used them as effectively because I didn’t understand what I needed to work on.

        My favorite affirmation done to date was on I did, at your suggestion, one month you went to India.

        “I am love.”

        That brought up so many things for me at that time.


  1. I just started doing something similar to this idea reminding myself that I am in control of my own mood and my own choices. It’s been so helpful. The difference is noticeable and in such a short time. This is a great post and so,e really helpful advice


    1. Yes, that is a very powerful process too! It makes such a difference to be responsible and accountable for our own feelings, thoughts, actions and attitudes. I’m glad you liked my post.


  2. I’ve been trying to figure out how to think more positively. This is great advice, I will have to try this out. Thank you 🙂


  3. This is so true…I love this! I may reblog it on my other blog. I tell youths who call to a similar exercise and before I warn them it may sound a bit Saturday Night Live with the guy looking in the mirror with affirmations BUT IT WORKS! Now I need to practice it though…I can see saying it over 1,000 times as meditative too. 21 days eh?…great stuff!!


    1. I was reading your blog while you were reading mine. Fun!

      Yes, saying the affirmations 1000 times or more is definitely meditative. I’m glad you are interested.


  4. I really like the idea of washing the brain in a positive way. The added benefit of giving so many positive thoughts is that you don’t have time for the negative ones. So it is both washing out the negative while leaving the beautiful fragrance of the positive.


  5. I got smacked in the back of my head and in the but while in public when I was a young kid. Criticised also. All those things while I was being a smart ass or just not doing anything good. Seems it was the norm back there. And in my world, you tend to develop a thick skin. Which is good since life, as you know, it can be quite mean sometimes. And you have to be strong.

    I´m paraphrasing what Anne Frank said, a parent can guide the son/daughter to such extend but at the end of the day that son/daughter will develop his or her own personality and that is out of the control of the parents.

    And is true, I´ve seen how some of my friends that I knew as a young kid came out….and not good, taking drugs, drug addicts, selling dope, stealing.

    Others came out fine, even if they had tough parents which the others didn´t have, the others where given everything. Not to say, that all of those who where given everything turned out bad.

    I believe in self-responsibility, so if you screw up, stop pointing finger to him or her or that you had a bad childhood. I know plenty of people who´ve had a very tough childhood and they turned out quite the opposite of how they´re parents where. It´s all in you.

    Just a though. Nice post, you made me think!


    1. I believe in self-responsibility too. To me the purpose of therapy (I’m a therapist) is to work through the anger, fear and sadness that keeps a person stuck in the past so that they can live in the present.

      Even when the adult part of us knows our parents loved us and did the best job they could do, there may be younger parts inside that are filled with rage and fear. Being critical towards those parts just makes things worse.

      When the old fear, anger and sadness is released at a core level, people who have been pointing fingers forever are able to let go of that behavior.

      One of my co-therapists always reminds clients that when they point their finger at someone else, there are four of their own fingers pointing back at themselves.

      Thanks for reading the post and commenting!


    1. I used to enjoy keeping a chart and getting into competition with myself to see how big I could get the totals to. That helped me remember to do it too!


  6. I love this post, I have so many negative thoughts about my self and it is true that we would never say these things to anyone else so why do we find it acceptable to say them to ourselves?! I am going to try and fill my day full of positive affirmations 🙂
    Thanks for the post
    Sass x


  7. Hi there! This blog post could not be written much better!
    Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this information to him.
    Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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