Depression & Negative Self-Talk
Updated: Nov 3
Stories are a part of our lives from a very young age as we hear and tell stories almost every day. As we get older, the stories we tell ourselves begin to have a profound effect on our self-perception (what we believe about ourselves). If those stories are negative, we may think poorly of ourselves. Prolonged negative self-talk (internal storytelling) can leave people feeling depressed. It stands to reason that if negative self-talk can contribute to depression, positive self-talk can improve depression symptoms. In this blog, we’ll explore some tips for changing negative self-talk to diminish the effects of depression.
Why Is Negative Self-Talk Linked to Depression?
Negative self-talk can lead to limiting thinking that causes individuals to feel poorly about themselves. People may tell themselves things like:
I’ve tried this in the past and failed, so I shouldn’t bother.
I’m not good at anything.
I can’t do anything on my own.
Everything that goes wrong is my fault.
I’ll never be able to do any better.
Thoughts like this and other negative self-talk can add up to deep-seated feelings of sadness, lack of motivation, struggles with self-worth, hopelessness, shame, and more.
How Do I Change Negative Self-Talk?
For most people, that negative internal monologue grew louder and gained power over years, so it’s probably not going to change overnight. However, taking steps to begin addressing negative self-talk is essential to start feeling better and more confident. If you’re trying to overcome that negative inner critic, consider the following steps:
Stop and acknowledge your inner critic every time it speaks up. What thoughts are you having? Why do you think that way? How can you change negative self-talk to something more honest and positive, or at least more neutral?
Learn the difference between your thoughts and your reality. This can be easier said than done. Most negative self-talk has been with us for a long time. We often begin to believe this self-talk is objective truth. Confront and challenge the truth of your negative-self talk. Start to delve deeper and understand the difference between your inner dialogue and the larger truth of your situation.
Name and talk to your negative voice. Give your inner critic a nickname (the sillier the better). This gives you the ability to distance yourself from this one part of you and feel separate from the self-critic, making it easier to confront the negative voice.
Ask yourself the question, “If someone was saying these negative things about one of your friends, what would you tell them?” We are often much harder on ourselves than we are on others. We can be cruel to ourselves in ways that we would never be when talking to a friend or loved one. Try to think of yourself as a friend. Nurture and support your needs with kind and affirming thinking.
Can Therapy Help?
At Cedar Counseling & Wellness, we understand that depression and other mood disorders as well as negative self-talk can be really difficult to overcome. The good news is that you don’t have to do this on your own. Our therapists have the experience and expertise to help you start quieting your inner critic and improving your depression symptoms. When you’re ready to get started working with our Annapolis team, simply request an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon.