Building Habits

Say "No" to Negative Self-Talk

When you’re trying to create new healthy habits, there might be a huge obstacle in your way: negative self-talk. It’s completely possible that without even realizing it, you have negative thoughts that stand between you and better habits. Why? Deep down, you might not feel capable of making the changes that lead to a healthy brain.

Have you ever told yourself, “I can’t exercise, I’m too fat/tired/old.”? What about, “People don’t like me enough to spend time around me and socialize.”? Or, “I’m so stressed because I’m not good at my job. There’s nothing I can do to change it.”

If you’ve ever heard the voice inside your head say something similar to these statements, that’s negative self-talk. It doesn’t take long to become very good at keeping yourself down with this type of thinking, but it can be hard to undo. When you find yourself thinking these thoughts, get out a notebook and pen and make three columns:

1. Name the belief

2. Evidence for belief

3. Evidence against belief

Then, just read what you wrote without applying any judgment to it. Practice this exercise each time you feel negative thoughts creeping in. Over time, you will most likely begin to observe that your negative thoughts have no or very little evidence to support them.

Knowing you are capable of habit changes might be enough to get you moving toward making some changes. And keep in mind that habit change can be small to eventually have a big payoff for brain health. If you want to start walking, walk for 5 minutes. If you want to start reading, read one page. Everyone has to start somewhere and the more successful you feel at meeting your goals, the more success you’ll have over time.


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