A 10-minute exercise to banish that negative self-talk

Like many people, you may be familiar with that inner voice that surfaces from time to time, reminding you that you’re not good enough or how things won’t work out. It can make you feel as though the future is all doom and gloom, making you want to dodge any attempt at risk-taking in your life or career.


I have encountered numerous people plagued by their far from supportive inner voices. Talented, able individuals who tell themselves they will never have the job they really want: the relationship, the qualifications, the home, the ability to speak in public, the part in the play, the weight loss. The ‘stuff’ that amounts to the life that they would really like to have.

And the reason for this? Because their inner-voice has told them it can’t and won’t happen.

An inner voice often manipulates past negative experiences, making us feel guilty, responsible and helpless. It can convince us that these past experiences will be only be repeated – in spades – with absolutely no concrete evidence to back this up.

And let’s not beat around the bush: the impact this inner voice has is devastating. It stops us from going for what we really want in life and, if that’s not enough, makes us feel unfulfilled and miserable in the process.

The good news is, it really is possible to banish the bad voice and replace it with a positive one. We just have to accept that all actions start with a thought - just think what these actions could be if the thoughts we had were encouraging, forward-thinking and inspiring!

There are lots of things we can do to make this happen, but it can be a surprisingly quick activity to train our brains to replace the ‘old with the new’. Below is an effective 10-minute exercise that can help you to transform your inner world and banish negative self-talk.

1. Recognise the negative talk or thought patterns

The more you are able to recognise the unpleasant thoughts/voice in your head, the better equipped you will be to deal with them. These can take on the form of a number of emotions, fears or so-called beliefs, whether it be anxiety, worry, regrets, guilt, unease or self-criticism. Learn to be fully aware of what is happening to you at the earliest opportunity.

2. Become an impartial witness

Observe the thoughts you are having but try to do so without feeling a part of them. That may sound weird and it does mean facing up consciously to your thoughts, which can be difficult at first. However, if you can achieve this and learn to witness them while having a feeling of detachment, you can observe impartially what is happening without getting carried away or getting involved in the thoughts and emotions.

It can take a few goes at the exercise to achieve this but is well worth persevering. In a surprisingly short space of time, you should get to the point where you stop believing these thoughts or taking them seriously!

3. Be aware of the present moment

The chances are, your negative self-talk is focused around things that have happened in the past or what you are worried may happen in the future. They often have very little to do with what is happening in the present moment.

The more you can become absolutely focused on what is going on around you in the here and now, the more the reality of these thoughts will be diminished. For example take time to be fully aware of your surroundings: nature, home environment, what you are eating, people around you, smells, tastes and sounds. Give your mind a break – by really experiencing (and enjoying!) the present moment.

4. Build constructive thoughts with a supportive voice

Consciously creating constructive thoughts can really help face day-to-day challenges. Depending on your situation, it may be necessary to create these ‘one step at a time’ to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

For example, just choose one thing that has been on your mind and use past experiences as a learning tool to inform yourself how you can turn the situation around; or help to maximise the possibility that ‘what you fear might happen’ never will, whether it be in your head or in real life!

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