Unhelpful thinking styles can have a negative effect on how you feel and what you do. Negative thoughts are ‘programmed’ in from an early age and have been reinforced over time in your decisions and actions. However it is very possible to change your self-talk to one that is more helpful to your overall wellbeing.


  1. Awareness is the key – Ask yourself ‘What am I thinking right now?’
  2. Use a thinking journal to record your thoughts, the triggers and your emotional reaction – this is very helpful to really ‘confront’ your negative self-talk
  3. Identify unhelpful thinking styles (see Unhelpful Thinking Styles).
  4. Ask yourself: Is this thought helpful or useful in any way? Or it is self-critical, unrealistic or upsetting?
  5. What evidence is there that contradicts this thought? What strengths can I focus on?
  6. Does this thought help me take effective action to improve my life?
  7. Use affirmations every day such as “Each day I do the best I can”” and “Even though I make mistakes I’m still a good person”
  8. Challenging thoughts takes lots of practice – see your psychologist for further support with cognitive management