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changing negative self-talk

My client Joan* is struggling with feeling inadequate at her job. She was recently promoted to a leadership position in her organization that she never imagined she would get. She actually didn’t even apply for the position; instead her bosses offered it to her, believing she is more than capable of succeeding in the role.

The problem is Joan’s inner critic has been telling her that she can’t do the job as well as someone else could because she doesn’t have any “real” training. She doesn’t have a college degree and, therefore, she’s not as qualified as someone else might be.

Joan was spiraling into a place of negative self-talk that was defeating her. However, things shifted as she learned to apply the ABCs for changing negative self-talk.


The first step towards changing negative self-talk and getting out of that awful spiral is to acknowledge what IS true. I have found that your inner critic often takes one thing that may be true and builds on top of that with lies that feel true but really are not.

In Joan’s case, I had her start by acknowledging what was true – she did not have a college degree, this was the true part of what she was telling herself.

But then we challenged the idea that just because she didn’t have a college education, it meant she had no experience that could serve her in her role.

As we pulled the story apart, Joan saw that what she lacked in formal education, she more than made up for in real-life experience.

By acknowledging what is true and separating that out from the lies, you are better able to deal with and change your negative self-talk.

Be Intentional

The next thing I had Joan do was to be intentional to replace negative words with more positive and affirming words. This isn’t about positive affirmations instead it is about reframing the stories you are telling yourself.

Instead of saying “I’m not good at this”, remind yourself that you can learn whatever you need to get better at the task at hand.

When you make mistakes (and you will) instead of saying “I’m a failure and they’d be better off without me”, remind yourself that mistakes are how you learn. Mistakes mean that you’re trying and if you’re trying then you are taking risks and taking risks is always a sign of a good leader.

Instead of comparing yourself to someone else – real or the imaginary person you think will be able to do your job better than you – name all the reasons why YOU are the perfect person for this role. Identify all the unique ways you add value to the organization.

Change your self-talk by replacing the negative with something positive and life giving.


Like many women leaders, Joan is really good at recognizing all the places where she needs to do better. She focuses a lot of her energy on the areas that need improving in her leadership but hardly ever takes time to celebrate the ways she is winning in her job.

Celebrating your wins is the next step to changing negative self-talk. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating, what you focus on is what grows.

You will always have areas to improve in your leadership. If you’re growing then that is a given but if you focus only on those areas, then all you or anyone else will see are the areas that aren’t working.

But when you start focusing on the ways you are winning, then guess what? THOSE start growing and before you long you’re experiencing a steady stream of wins in your work.

Don’t gloss over the times when things go well and don’t dismiss the part you played in making that happen.

I recommend that people develop a ritual around celebrating wins. We have rituals around celebrating birthdays and anniversaries so why not establish something similar around your wins at work (and in life).

It doesn’t have to be anything big or elaborate but it does need to include stopping to express gratitude and allowing yourself to really feel the joy of the moment.

Celebrate your wins! You have earned it.

Putting these ABCs into practice will effectively diminish your negative self-talk. As that changes, you are free to rise into the greatness I know is in you.

From my heart to yours,




If you need  additional support to help you change your negative self-talk, let’s talk to see if we might be a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a complimentary call with me today.

*not her real name

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