Stuck believing your negative self-talk? Start with a simple truth.

“I’m not good enough. I’ll never have what I want. I’m disgusting!”

Do these dark thoughts sound familiar? The inner critic spinning out of control, gaining intensity at the sound of its own thoughts?

Self-help lecturers and therapists have offered a counterbalance in the form of affirmations like “I’m beautiful. I’m powerful. I can do it!” Among my loved ones who struggle with harsh self-criticism, there is a strong resistance to even starting a habit of affirming the opposite of what’s playing in their heads on a loop.

But it may be harder to start at a place of high self-praise when part of you is chronically tearing you down. That’s why I suggest a simple, provable truth may work best here:

I’m human. I deserve compassion and grace.

By simply affirming our own humanity, we can ground our objections to the critic in something we can easily believe, something we know to be true. We can then see the negative self-talk for the distorted lie that it is.

We can add physicality to recognizing our humanity, our realness, by placing a hand on our heart while we say this, either out loud or silently in our thoughts. This connection develops the part of our brain that’s capable of self-compassion. It’s like a muscle that grows gradually if exercised regularly – one that’s atrophied in people who live under siege of chronic, out-of-control self-criticism.

Once you have a bearing on your humanity, you can advance to higher affirmations, but if you have trouble starting, I see lots of value of starting with acknowledging one’s on humanity. I find it soothes me when I fear the negativity is gaining on me.

What do you do to ease your negative self-chatter? Please join the discussion in the comments below.