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How to Stop Thinking Negatively About Yourself

Learn how to stop thinking negatively about yourself and overcome your insecurities on HealthyPlace.

Want to know how to stop thinking negatively about yourself? We know that nothing positive ever comes from self-hatred, yet so many of us struggle with poor body image and negative self-talk. It isn’t easy, but with some positive thinking strategies, you can change your negative self-image and learn to show yourself a little more compassion. Here’s how to stop thinking negatively about yourself, once and for all.

What Is Negative Self-Talk?

Everyone has days where they feel less confident than others – it’s part of being human. However, for many of us, the balance is all wrong. We don’t like our bodies, we hate what we see in the mirror, and we tell ourselves if we could only be thinner/smarter/funnier/more attractive then we could learn to love ourselves. So why are we so hard on ourselves?

There are many reasons why we dislike ourselves, including issues stemming from childhood, media influences, social media comparisons and clever advertising. Very few of us are completely happy with who we are, and the world makes it increasingly difficult for us to be so.

How to Stop Thinking Negatively About Yourself

According to counselor Julia Kristina, the best way to combat negative thoughts about yourself is with self-compassion. Self-compassion sounds simple, but it’s not always easy in practice.

These are the four pillars of self-compassion:

  1. Self-kindness: Learn to be kinder to yourself. This doesn't mean you have to lie to yourself or love yourself all the time ("Does False Positivity, Fake Positivity Help or Hurt You?"). It just means you have to be kind and understanding. How would you respond to a good friend who came to you with your struggle? You would probably present a more balanced and realistic view, such as: "You made a mistake this time, but that doesn't mean you're a failure overall."
  2. Common humanity: It’s easy to personalize our struggles, but the fact is that we all face the same issues in life. No matter how great someone’s life seems on the outside, that doesn’t mean life is always easy for that person. We’re all on this ride together, and we all face the same problems at some stage or another.
  3. Mindfulness: Learn how to be present with your emotions without judging or criticizing yourself for your emotions. Allow yourself to accept and observe your feelings, whether they are helpful or unhelpful. Resist telling yourself that you should or shouldn’t feel a certain way.
  4. Acceptance: Accept that you are human and that your thoughts and feelings are rarely straightforward. You don’t have to love yourself, but you will be much happier in life if you can learn to accept yourself despite your flaws, and even because of them.

A Self-Compassion Exercise

The author and philosopher, Alain De Botton, theorizes that self-criticism, while sometimes helpful, is excessive in many of us. Being self-critical can lead to feelings of self-hatred and depression – what De Botton refers to as the “enemies to a good life.”

When you experience negative thoughts about yourself, it can be helpful to envision flipping a switch in your brain and practicing a self-compassion meditation. This exercise is structured to help you adopt a more positive outlook. Close your eyes, find a comfortable spot such as your bed or sofa, and focus on the following thoughts:

  1. Acknowledge the challenges in your life and give yourself a pat on the back for the odds you have overcome just to be here today.
  2. Remember that you are not entirely responsible for your shortcomings. Throughout your life, you have been influenced by other people and life events, some of which are partly to blame for your struggles.
  3. Know that luck is often a factor in success. It’s not that more successful people are necessarily better than you, just that luck has been on their side at the right times. It may not be in the future.
  4. Remember all the kind words that have ever been spoken to you. Repeat them in your mind.
  5. Reduce your expectations of yourself to zero, just for a time.


Next time you’re wondering how to stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself, put down your phone, let go of your expectations, take yourself to a cozy corner of your home and practice this self-compassion exercise.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2018, December 11). How to Stop Thinking Negatively About Yourself, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/positivity/how-to-stop-thinking-negatively-about-yourself

Last Updated: June 20, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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