How Negative Thinking Kills Your Self-Confidence

June 13, 2012 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Powerful ways to overcome negative thinking, negative self-talk and build self-confidence. Learn 5 key steps for overcoming negative thinking.

Have you ever had a day that just killed your self-confidence? No matter how hard you try, you can’t pull yourself out of the funk? And then, negative thinking takes over?

Let’s say you have a presentation at work that you are not ready for or you finally get the courage to call that romantic interest, alas no response. Both instances can feel like huge failures. Afterwards, you mind is filled with doubt; maybe you were nervous while giving the presentation and made a few blunders or the voicemail you left was filled with “ums” and awkward pauses. Then, your mind spins into a downward spiral; in pops another negative thought about yourself, and another, and before you know it negative thinking has brought your self-confidence to an all time low. So how do you bounce back?

Taking Control of Negative Thinking

The more you become aware of the negative thoughts that compromise your confidence and self-esteem, the faster you can take control and feel good again. The positive self-talk must come from within in order to make a lasting change in your negative thinking. Your co-worker can tell you how amazing you presentation was, but you have to chose to believe it and really accept it. Low self-esteem and self-confidence are due to your negative self-talk and overly critical views. When this is shifted, you begin to increase your self-esteem and confidence.

Stop the Cycle of Negative Thinking

To reduce the cycle of negative thinking, first become aware of how your body is feeling when you start to head down this road; tense muscles, stomach ache, heart palpitations, anxiety symptoms, identify the physical sensations. Often times, this occurs before the negative thought. This is an opportunity to pick a different path. Going down the route of negative self-talk has never benefited your confidence in the past, it doesn’t serve you. Let’s try something else.

  • Write it down. Challenge the negative talk. Make a list think of as many things as you to contradict the negative statement (choose one statement at a time) such as, “I am the worst employee.” Why is this not the case? Play Devil’s advocate.
  • Boost your inner ego. Your friends and family may do it all the time, what would they say in this situation if the roles were reversed? “If he/she doesn’t call you back it’s a blessing in disguise, you deserve respect and courtesy, don’t waste your time.”
  • Get some gratitude. For just a second, press pause the negative talk. Think for a few moments to think of what you are thankful for in this moment. Gratitude can shift your whole perspective; perhaps it’s that you have a job or friends and family to support you emotionally with or without a romantic relationship, or even that you have small luxuries, like air conditioning on a hot day, think of as many as you can.
  • Distract. Grab a book, play a game on your phone, research something you interested in or start planning for something you are looking forward to. Deviate from those thoughts for just a second instead of giving into the wave of negative thinking.
  • Change your perspective. We all have dreaded experiences; why not turn them into opportunities for growth. The next presentation you have you will make sure to practice in advance or wait for that potential date to reach out and contact you. From these experiences you can learn more about yourself, and who you want to be, which is beautiful.

Building self-confidence and avoiding the dreaded downward spiral of negative thinking is possible, just as long as you have the focus and desire to want a better relationship with yourself.

Take Good Care,

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2012, June 13). How Negative Thinking Kills Your Self-Confidence, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Kara Schlosser
January, 20 2014 at 10:10 pm

Some parents are toxic and the only way to survive and have a healthier life is to disinherit them. I confronted my mother in a letter about my abuse, neglect, sexual abuse that should've been prevented, how it felt to not be loved, etc. She never talked to me after that. I literally thought I was gonna die. I was so enmeshed that I didn't think I would survive. It took me over a year to get over that feeling. It's been 15+ years now and I've run into her very briefly. I have done a ton of counseling but I, too don't think I will have closure till she's gone. Each of us is different and have different ways of coping. For me and my sister, our lives started once we were no longer involved with her. It's been a long journey for me but I don't regret "extricating" the poison.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 30 2014 at 10:09 pm

I appreciate you sharing your story. And yes, everyone has different coping skills. Sometimes you have to leave the situation as you realize, they will not change and you have done the best you can. Radically accepting the fact that others may not change but you can. Keep up the good work.

April, 10 2013 at 5:33 pm

Amen to that Kyra. John, bless you for sharing your life story. You are very strong for survivng and sounds like the work that you do helps you. Do not feel that you are called to forgive. It may happen for you or not...Maybe when we pass, we will feel the love our parent(s) could never give in this life (?) .. I too felt nothing when one of my parents passed...except relief. I pray for that parent as that is the right thing, for me anyway to do, but feel no guilt over my lack of remorse over the death...only 3 mos ago. The abuse was unrelenting and had to care for this parent at the end. I am 54.
I have coped by learning to understand this parent was very very very ill. No mentally well healthy parent would abuse or maltreat a child.. It took NAMI course, years of counseling to help. Made all the difference. My family is my children and husband, not the one I came from....

Kyra Marie
March, 2 2013 at 10:10 pm

"Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them..." but it doesn't sound like John's parents or brothers ever admitted their mistakes at all. Forgiveness is important, no doubt. However, those who have not endured the kind of life-long torture that John described really have no right to preach forgiveness so nonchalantly. Forgiveness can be a long journey for those of us who have endured unspeakable acts of abuse.

Boro Petric
February, 20 2013 at 3:12 am

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.

January, 25 2013 at 4:21 am

It is the hardest thing to do when wronged, but I will urge there is power in forgiveness. Kindly do forgive your parents even if they are in the grave, they are your second 'God' irrespective of your super achievement and are reason behind your existence.

January, 23 2013 at 2:19 pm

Carol...Just wondering what antidepressants helped with your obsessive thinking and negative thoughts? I have been on all the SSRi's but they didn't help with this sort of thing.

john gavin
January, 23 2013 at 3:14 pm

Hi Emily, I am 79 years of age. My father beat me to the point where I now have a very serious case of PTSD as a result. My mother heard everything and has never ever mentioned it ever happening. Neither parent ever touched me ever except my father's beatings. From the first grade, I learned my parents never ever said or showed they ever loved me. I had to do all the work around the house while my 4 other brothers did noting. I inherited my father's super anger and fought it all my life going through a few periods of almost committing suicide, and came within a few seconds of doing so. My mother who was there all the time was never a mother whatsoever. She never ever touched me even by accident. I went into the military for 4 years and saying good by included no contact whatsoever. We never touched, I simply said good by and left. I went to see my mother after my father died to see if my mother would be different toward me now that my father was gone and I learned she was the same as she had always been. I told her that I hated the way I felt toward her because she had never been a mother for me ever. I told her that I will be leaving in a few seconds and will never see her again. She said nothing in words and never changed her facial expression in the least. I said good by and left and just after closing her door I felt a great burden lifting from my shoulders. It was the happiest day of my life, sorry to say but it was.
The next time I saw her was 22 years later in her casket in a funeral home. I felt absolutely nothing seeing her in the casket. I don't see my brothers except now at funerals. I have never been to their homes or they mine ever and that goes back some 60 years or so. I was never a kid. For survival, I had to learn to get through to adulthood starting when I was seven or so. I hated my father from my first recognition of his existence. During some of his beatings, I wanted him to kill me to end the terror and trauma I went through. I vowed to never let these two bast_ _ _ s win and forced myself to become goal oriented and as a result I became a super achiever. I never ever quit or gave in ever. I will work till I die or can't move, whichever comes first. I grew up in a big black hole and will never see the top. Thank you very much for listening to me.

June, 17 2012 at 4:53 pm

I think negative thinking and obsessive thoughts are sometimes a part of mental illness. I am now on an antidepressant and those thoughts have dissapeared slowly over the past few months. It does take work keeping your thoughts on positive things and keeping them there. I loved your article!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 17 2012 at 6:25 pm

Thanks Carol! I am glad to hear you are doing better! Keep up the positive thinking! Very motivating to here your thoughts.

Darley Giraldo
June, 13 2012 at 4:56 pm

Great article. I strongly believe that most of the emotional difficulties people experience are directly related to maladaptive, or negative as you call them, thought patterns. We need to continue teaching our clients skills to evaluate them in a more objective way so that they can experience emotional relief.

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