Negative self-talk is a stressful and often involuntary form of self-criticism. These are thoughts that can be self-deprecating and may even contribute to or stem from mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. If your teen often expresses negative thoughts about themselves, their inner monologue is likely destructive.
In this post, we’ll discuss specific examples of negative self-talk and explore coping mechanisms to redirect it. Learn how to divert the negativity and keep it out of your life from the team at Ascend.
What Is Negative Self-Talk?
Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time, especially about themselves. For example, you might think, “I’ll never understand this math assignment” or “I’m so bad at cooking.” As standalone thoughts, those aren’t necessarily worrying because they can push you to practice and improve. However, when these kinds of ideas reoccur and become a persistent focus, you may end up increasing stress levels and lowering your self-esteem. If you find yourself focusing on what’s wrong with everything around you, negative self-talk may be part of the problem.
As you get used to the negative voice in your head running through comment after comment without stopping, it can be hard not to listen to it or agree with it when it starts telling you things like:
- “You blew that presentation.”
- “Don’t bother studying for the test.”
- “Everybody hates you.”
These bleak comments sound normal because they come up again and again, to the point where your obstructive internal monologue can make you feel pessimistic all the time.
How Negative Self-Talk Starts
When does negative talk start? Many people find that it often begins in childhood, but you might not notice it until much later in life when negative thoughts become unavoidable and intrusive. Some of the reasons why these thoughts happen include:
- Hearing frequent dismissive comments from parents, friends, or siblings
- Comparing yourself to classmates who seem more confident
- Messages from the media about how teens should look and act
- Unrealistic portrayals of life experiences from social media
- Mental health issues like anxiety or depression
How to Stop Negative Self-Talk
Stopping or redirecting a defeatist internal attitude is possible. Some steps you can take for yourself or your teen include:
- Taking negative talk seriously. If left unchecked, it can develop into a disruptive force in your teen’s life. Teens that tell you about negative thoughts are seeking support – don’t be dismissive of their concerns.
- Pausing to reflect for a moment. It’s hard to take control of negative thoughts when you’re feeling unhappy, but mindful thinking will help you get the upper hand. Analyze these negative thoughts and consider alternatives.
- Putting a positive spin on adverse events. Instead of apologizing for being late or knocking over a pile of books, consider thanking someone for their patience or explaining that you’re working on improving your coordination.
- Rewiring your thinking process. Retraining your brain sounds difficult, but cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a helpful tool we use at Ascend for those who feel stuck in a pattern of negative self-talk.
Using these tools could be enough to set you on a path towards better self-communication and more positive internal thinking.
Teen Mental Health Help at Ascend Healthcare
If you think that you or your teen’s internal negativity has reached a point where it interferes with everyday life, it may be time to seek more support. Find a place to reset and retrain your brain at Ascend. Our personalized residential treatment plans ensure that teens have a safe space in which to explore what they might be feeling. Learn more about our programs when you fill out our contact form or reach out to us at 310.388.3713 today.