5 Steps to Nurture Yourself and Stop the Negative Self-Talk


We’ve all been there: it’s been a long day and you’re tired and not feeling that workout you had planned. BUT you’re on roll with the Crossfit thing—you’ve been hitting PRs and you’ve set some lofty goals. You decide you’d rather go home and nap than do the WOD (Workout Of the Day), but then you hear a little voice in your head telling you that you should go to the gym or you’ll totally derail your progress.

That if you skip the WOD, it means you have no willpower–that you have no discipline.

You listen to this voice, and eventually get sick of it telling you what to do—judging you. You rebel in by watching six hours of Lifetime Movies and eating mini snickers bars. After vegging and eating the candy, you feel guilty. You might as well eat the entire bowl of candy and never go to the gym again because you’ve already screwed yourself.

The negative little voice stinks.

It’s always telling you what you “should” and “shouldn’t” do. Always judging your wants and your choices and making you feel discouraged and inadequate. Listening to this negative self-talk will keep you in that downward spiral of self-alienating thoughts and actions. As long as you’re fighting this seemingly well-meaning voice, you’ll have a tough time reaching your goals.

So now you’re ready to get rid of this nasty little voice so that you can be the person you know you are inside. Well, what if getting rid of the voice isn’t the answer? What if you have to make friends with your negative voice in order to reach your goals?

The truth is that this voice actually wants to help you; she just goes about it in the wrong way.

To happily reach your goals, you have to befriend and listen to that voice.

How? Here are 5 steps to make that negative little voice your partner in crime:

  •  Identify her/him. Think of this little voice as another part of you. Separate yourself into two people: the nurturer and the one who needs nurturing. If you hear someone in your head telling you that you “should” do something, that’s the one who needs nurturing talking.
  • Listen to her from an open, loving place. What is she telling you? Not to eat that candy? That you should go to the gym? What is that negative voice trying to tell you? Listen from a place of understanding rather than defensiveness.
  • Think about how you’re feeling. What are you feeling the moment this little voice starts telling you that you should go to the gym? Do you feel stressed? Tired? Guilty? Having a list of feelings in front of you is surprisingly helpful. You can find a great list of feelings here.
  • Think about what you need. The negative self-talk is an indication from within that you have a need that’s not being met. Based on what you’re feeling, what is it that you think you need? If you’re feeling stressed about the gym, could it be that you’ve been pushing too hard because achieving at the gym is so important to you? Could it be that you need rest and self-compassion?
  • Work with your Negative Self to find a solution. Once you figure out what you need, think about how to meet that need. If you’re feeling like you need rest, could you make a plan to take a few days off? If you’re feeling like you need some compassion, would you be willing to step up your self-care? Let the nurturing part of you take control and make a request of the negative voice.

Even though you may get frustrated with that little voice, she’s really there to help you.

To point out that you have some needs that aren’t being met.

Sometimes it takes that negative voice to tune you into what’s really going on. Instead of seeing her as a bad thing, see her as a wake-up call to start listening to your feelings and needs.

Befriending this negative voice becomes especially important during the holiday season. We tend to stray from our usual, healthy routines during the holidays and it’s important to have patience, understanding and to be forgiving of this negative little voice.

She’s only trying to show you what you need.

Do you have any strategies for handling negative self-talk? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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2 Responses to 5 Steps to Nurture Yourself and Stop the Negative Self-Talk

  1. Kendahl @ Our Nourishing Roots April 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM #

    I completely agree. I work with youth here locally in Phoenix, and we use a similar distinction called “the player and the opponent” where they are both you, playing the game of life in your head. Either way, it’s you, but with your player in the game and by listening to them, you will find what you want in life is easier to get!

    • Allison April 25, 2013 at 4:42 PM #

      Love that, Kendahl! That’s a much easier way to think about it– the player and the opponent. Thanks for sharing 😉

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