6 Ways to Shut Down Negative Self-Talk and Feel More Confident at Work

woman on laptop


Profile Picture
Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 19, 2024 at 9:30PM UTC

Who among us hasn’t succumbed to negative self-talk from time to time? It strikes people with anxiety, of course, but even some of the seemingly most confident people in the world let the negative thoughts creep in sometimes.

That was on the mind of a professional who posted in the Fairygodboss Community recently. 

Fortunately, many Fairygodboss members were eager to help out with some advice. We reached out to other professionals to help answer Anonymous's question, as well. 

1. “Confidence is a process and a practice, which means you can get better at it.”

“Start a ta-da list, a list of what you've accomplished to remind yourself what you are capable of,” career coach Meaghan Wagner suggested. “You can do this weekly and keep it visible day to day; or if you are struggling with something in particular, you can make a list of all the times you were in similar circumstances and came out on top.”

Wagner also encourages self-doubters to “get curious about that critical voice. That inner critic can be hard to shake, but part of the reason it's there is to try to protect you from something. Get curious about how that voice is trying to help, how it's trying to serve you. Is it trying to keep you from being embarrassed or hurt? Once you figure it out, thank the voice for its input, and moving on should be a bit easier.”

2. “Name the negative voice.”

“It may sound a little weird but naming the negative voice in your head can really help,” Hope Bennett, Digital Marketing Specialist, agreed. “Giving that energy a name helps you create a dialogue that you can reason with. It also can help you start identifying the source of various emotions you may be feeling.”

3. “I remind myself that I would never say these things to a friend.”

“ The way I shut down negative self-talk is to remind myself that I would never say these things to a friend and that the most important relationship I have is with myself,” Founder Jen Ferguson wrote. “How kind I am to myself matters—that without that grace and kindness, my confidence will suffer. I remind myself of my favorite achievements and how they happened. Both personal and professional ones. Consider the things I’m most grateful for today, this week, and this month. I remind myself of the times I did fail, what I learned and how I bounced back. Everything starts with belief in yourself.” 

4. “Move your attention to what you’ve accomplished.”

“Shift your focus away from the things you haven’t done perfectly, and move your attention to what you’ve accomplished, everything from the big to the small,” Karen Rubin, Executive Coach and founder of Princeton Corporate Coaching, wrote. “Set aside a few minutes every day to consider the items you’ve checked off your to-do list, what went well and where you’ve made progress. After a week of putting this exercise into practice, you’ll be amazed by how much you’re getting done and how it positively changes your inner narrative.” 

5. “Rewrite the programming.”

“Much of the negative self-talk stems from deep-rooted beliefs in the subconscious mind. It's like having a bug in a computer,” Tiffany Pittman, Global Membership Director, Wanderful, opined. “You have to rewrite the programming.  I fall asleep listening to positive affirmation audio recordings every night. I've been doing this for about two years now. Not only has my perspective shifted about how I think about myself, but certain habits have, too. I'm a lot more confident and assertive with sharing my ideas in the workplace. I'm even more disciplined about exercising because there's an affirmation recording on that too.”

6. “Be vulnerable.”

At the end of the day, “Shutting down self-talk starts with reflection on what you have accomplished already,” Christine Holder wrote to us. “Talk to a trusted colleague and share how you are feeling regarding imposter syndrome. More than likely the other person has experienced the same feelings. Being vulnerable can lead to continued discussions, reciprocal positive relationships, increased accountability, value, passion and ultimately confidence in the workplace. "

About the Career Expert:

 Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always