Transform Negative Self-Talk for Good

On Valentine’s Day, we tend to focus on our relationships with loved ones, friends and family. We send cards and gifts, chocolate and candy, singing telegrams and flowers, and more. We spend so much time thinking about everyone else, it is easy to lose sight of the most important person in our lives: ourselves. Whether single or coupled, make this Valentine’s Day one to remember by focusing on, and loving you.

Showing yourself a bit of love isn’t about vanity or about narcissism. Rather, it is about self-respect and self-appreciation. Unfortunately, many of us are our own worst critics, and tend to show ourselves little of either. One of the biggest ways we show a lack of self-love is through negative self-talk.

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Negative self-talk can be extremely hurtful and detrimental to our overall happiness and well-being. Even the most simple of thoughts, such as thinking “I’m such an idiot” when you forget your keys can be detrimental. Negative self-talk is at the very core of low self-esteem and self-confidence, and worse, a negative attitude. All of these eat away at our ability to find happiness.

Common forms of negative self-talk include filtering – when you magnify the negative and dilute the positive, personalizing – when you automatically blame yourself for things that go wrong, polarizing – when you see things as black and white, with no gray, and catastrophizing – when you anticipate the worst. None of these are productive thought patterns.

This Valentine’s Day, pay attention to your reactions and your internal monologue. When you notice any of these behaviors, stop yourself. Avoid self-criticism and instead practice self-acceptance and self-respect. The more positive you are with yourself, the more positive you’ll be with the world around you.

In some cases, we have created a very “fixed” mindset that doesn’t allow us to see the positive. Over time, we become so used to thinking negatively, we struggle with finding a way to see things positively.

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To encourage happier thoughts, we can benefit from a simple shift in thinking. We call this “reframing.” Reframing allows us to take a seemingly negative thought and turn it into a positive. When negative thinking creeps in, reframe your thoughts to those that are more positive and productive. Here are some examples:

Negative Thoughts

Positive Thoughts

I can’t do that. I don’t know how.

I can learn to do that. I get to learn something new.

Everything is going wrong. It’s entirely my fault.

I’ve done my best. There are some things I just can’t control.

I’m not good at this.

What can I do to get better at this?

How could I be so stupid to not know that?

I just learned something new!

I look fat.

I love my curves.

This Valentine’s Day, avoid saying things to yourself that you wouldn’t dare say to anyone else. Be kind to yourself and be as gentle and encouraging with yourself as you might with a child or a grandparent.

Do you fall victim to negative self-talk? What is the most common negative self-talk you say?

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Adapted from 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You. Make real, lasting change with this easy to follow, week-by-week guide to healthy change. Get it now at

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