Negative affirmations are a type of non-constructive self-talk. Most people engage in self-talk on a daily basis by thinking or speaking about themselves, their lives, and their situations, often without actually talking to another person. For example, a person who engages in negative self-talk may think about being too fat, too dumb, or too broke rather than focusing on positive affirmations, such as thinking about how creative he is, how successful he has been with various projects, and how often people remark about his charismatic personality. Unfortunately, negative affirmations can prove as damaging to one's self-esteem and general outlook on life as if someone else said such negative things to him.
Often, people do not even notice the affirmations they make every day. This is due to the fact that a person can make affirmations simply by thinking them or even by talking to himself. For example, a person may think he's ugly when he looks in the mirror in the morning or make an offhand remark about being overweight yet fail to realize he is making negative affirmations. In many cases, people are far more aware of the unpleasant things others say to them than the negative talk they give themselves.
Though an individual may make negative affirmations without even noticing that he is engaging in negative self-talk, such thoughts or statements can still have an unfortunate effect on his life. Often, people engage in negative self-talk so much that they begin to believe the things they tell themselves and their self-esteem suffers. For example, a person who constantly tells himself he is fat and lazy may begin to believe it and become very self-conscious and withdrawn. Likewise, a person who tells himself he isn't good at anything may stop trying to achieve because he thinks he will always face failure. Even when negative affirmations do not affect a person in such a dramatic way, they may still interfere with one's ability to fully enjoy life and appreciate himself.
One way to combat negative affirmations is to turn every negative statement into a positive. For example, a person may tell himself that he doesn't make as much money as the neighbor, but then counter it with the fact that he gets to spend more time with his family because he has a less demanding job. Likewise, a person may counter self-talk about being overweight with positives such as being otherwise healthy or having the courage to start a new exercise program. Eventually, the person may end up focusing on the positive affirmations alone rather than starting with negativity and countering with positives.