• Ken Ribotsky

Depression and negative self-talk: what you’re thinking influences how you feel

“Jack” wakes up one morning and he’s feeling good. Then somewhere between getting out of bed—and making his morning cup of java—a strong feeling of unease washes over him. Suddenly Jack is feeling overwhelmed and anxious, but he has no idea why. To him the feelings just seem random.


Therapy helped Jack understand that his strong feelings started with a self-critical thought (called negative self-talk). That morning, he thought to himself: “I’m never going to finish the report that’s due today and my new boss is going to fire me.” His next thoughts were, “If I get fired I will never be able to pay my bills; what a loser I am.” Is it any wonder he felt anxious and afraid? This thought pattern had developed early on in Jack’s childhood when he was having trouble with his homework assignments from school. Fortunately, Jack was able to learn how to diffuse his self-critical thoughts and replace them with more realistic and positive ones.


Negative self-talk is different for everyone. The first step to changing your self-critical thoughts—and ultimately your feelings—is learning how to identify them. It’s difficult to do on your own, but working with a caring therapist can help. With the right tools and diligent practice, your negative self-talk will diminish over time.


If negative self-talk happens to crop up once again, you can quickly prevent it from stealing your joy.