Practical Tips for Overcoming Negative Self-Talk

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“I am so stupid.”

As a former teacher I would hear periodic rumblings of negative self-talk in the classroom.  My typical response was, “You can’t talk to my students that way.”  If I wouldn’t let kids talk to their classmates that way, why would I allow them to say that to themselves?  After capturing their curiosity, I then read them the story The Wolves Within.


The story goes something like this.  A grandfather sat his grandson on his lap and told him there is a battle between two wolves going on inside us.  One wolf is good and does no harm.  He is loving and he only fights when it is right to do so.  The other wolf is full of hate, anger, and greed.

The boy, waiting in suspense, asked, “which one wins, grandfather, which one wins?”

The grandfather replied, “The one I feed.”

Sometimes I am my own worst critic.  I pick apart every mistake and struggle to forgive myself.  I let harmless events trigger me into a fiery of anger.  Other times I’m held captive by feelings of shame or inadequacy.

In these situations it can be quite a battle for the good wolf to gain control.  Thankfully I’ve learned some processing strategies that help give the good wolf an edge.  First you must breathe (more on that here) then RIPP it!

RIPP the Bad Wolf

  • R – Recognize you’re having thoughts that feed the bad wolf.
  • I – Identify them.  (Name it to tame it.)
  • P – Process on…
  • P – Paper.

Below are some additional habits to work into your daily routine.

Feed the Good Wolf

  • Focus on gratitude
    • Keep a journal. Spend a few minutes first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed reflecting on thankfulness.
    • Keep a jar on your kitchen table with slips of paper. Write one thing you are thankful for and add it to the jar before each meal. Review it at the end of the year.
  • Memorize and speak to yourself these affirmations…
    • I am smart and capable.
    • I can do anything I put my mind to.

Did you like The Wolves Within story? Here are a couple more to inspire you:

Do you struggle with negative self-talk? What tools and tactics help you? Please share in the comments below.
Casey Bresnahan
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