How to Survive Your Unwanted and Painful Negative Self-talk

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014, 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  


Our inner bully is one of the cruelest voices we hear. There are unkind people who will reinforce what it is saying. It is our choice not to listen to negativity. 

“If you are going to talk to me that way, I’m not speaking to you anymore!” I said.

My foe had recently started the conversation. “You are so annoying. No wonder people do not want you around. You don’t fit in anywhere because you are so weird.”

This time I stood my ground. “There have been friends throughout my life who enjoyed spending time with me. I like being unique and there are those who appreciate who I am.”

“I doubt if that is true,” said the verbal abuser. “I could name names right now of those who reject you. Including me.”

“I can name those who have not,” I said.

That is when I shut down the dialogue with myself.

Sound familiar? Negative self-talk is a primary fuel for false self-defeating beliefs, and depression.

How your negative self-talk started

Beliefs form when we receive a message from a significant source. This could be from parents, teachers, or even the media sending a broader message to society.  Any source we consider valuable and do not dismiss offhand can plant a seed of belief in our minds.

For it to become a solid truth to us, experience has to support the message. For example, if the seed was that you deserve bad things to happen to you, and something bad does happen, that event can be interpreted as evidence backing the initial message.

However, the necessary third component in formulating a belief is that we have to repeat the same message to ourselves. So you see, our self-talk is powerfully influential.

How to survive (and change) negative self-talk. 

  1. Question past messengers’ credibility. If the person sending negative ideas was a narcissist, a liar, had ulterior motives, was emotionally unable to meet your needs, or was well-meaning but ignorant, what effect does that have on their message or on our memories? What if they were wrong? That changes everything, doesn’t it?
  2. Look for evidence to the contrary and do not dismiss it. You believe you are incapable? Count all your accomplishments, big or small. No matter if you judge these as unworthy, they do prove you are capable. Take that in.
  3. Let go of the past.  While it is unfortunate any one of us has been hurt, you do have a say in how long you allow that pain to define you. Forgiveness starts with burying self-blame and allowing yourself to be human.  Then forgiveness of others will be possible. 


Negative self-talk used to be my constant. Despite my faith in a loving God, friendships, two great sons, and more, the inner voice doggedly told me I was worthless and unlovable. Because of strategies and hard work, eventually those automatic negative thoughts gave way to automatic denial of their truth. They still come around, however do not hold the power they once had. 

You can survive the inner bully and overcome. You can!

Check out How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope for practical strategies that worked (still do!) for me.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 3:22-24

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.  He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

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