Category: <span>Confidence</span>

How To Challenge Negative Thoughts.

The way we speak to ourselves is the foundation to self-esteem and self-love. The goal is for that voice in your head to be your best friend. But when you have a lot of negative thoughts, it could seem like there’s a bully living in your head.

Most of your self talk comes from past messages you’ve heard or witnessed from people, from the feedback you’ve gotten from the people closest to you, indirectly from social media, past experiences and the information you’re exposed to from media. Notice what they all have in common? Negative thoughts mostly come from external sources. You were not born with them. Life taught you these thoughts.

How do you challenge these negative thoughts?

The first step is noticing that you’re even having a negative thought in the first place. We can’t change something we’re not even aware that we’re doing.

Once you realize you’re in a negative thinking loop, tell yourself “there it goes again” or “ I’m doing it again” this just helps you check yourself into the present moment and get out of your head for a second. This is what’s called being mindful. You are paying attention to your thinking.

Once you’re aware of the negative thought, question where it came from. Ask yourself “where did this thought come from? Did someone say something to me? Am I reliving the past by remembering past negative events?”

What you’re doing here is trying to find the source. Is the source a good judge? For example, let’s say you say to yourself “I’m so fat and unattractive.” Where did you pick up that thought? Maybe an abuse ex used to say those mean things to you. Maybe it was past or current bullies. Maybe it’s coming from messages you heard family say about other people. Or maybe it came from you being hard on yourself.

Again, the point here is trying to pinpoint where that thought came from. We are not born with these negative thoughts. Life teaches us these negative messages.

The next step is to then question your thoughts. Some questions to ask would be;

  • Is this thought 100% true?
  • Whats the evidence for AND against this thought?
  • What advice would I give a friend?
  • Am I imagining a scenario or replaying facts?
  • What do I need/want right now?
  • What can I control?
  • What’s a solution?

Finally, replace that thought with either looking at it differently or finding a solution.

The reality is we all can only control the way we REACT to people/circumstances and the way we LOOK AT THINGS. What’s a positive thing you can take about the situation? If there’s nothing positive, at the very least take it as a learning experience so you don’t repeat the same thing.

You can focus on solutions by problem solving and asking for help.

You can also replace the negative thought by playing around with words. For example, instead of saying to yourself “I’m a looser” replace it with “Everyone makes mistakes” or “If someone else has accomplished ____, that’s evidence that it can be done” When replacing the thought, it has to be believable. If you don’t believe it, it won’t work.

These are broad examples as I don’t know your personal situation. But the steps are the same regardless of the circumstances. With practice and consistency, it does get easier to challenge negative thinking.


How to Start Changing Negative Self-Talk in 4 Steps.

We all have an inner critic. It’s that little voice in your head that can be your best friend or your biggest bully.

Every time you want to try something new, that little voice creeps in. What if I fail? What will others think? It’s too hard! I don’t have time! All types of negative thoughts start to rush in.

It’s normal to have doubts and fears. But if your thoughts are negative 90% of your day , this will keep your confidence low and it stops you from doing the things you want to achieve.

With practice and consistency, you can train that inner voice to be kinder and more positive. Here are some tips to get you started.

Track your thoughts.

On an index card or piece of paper, draw a line to make two columns. On one column put “negative thoughts” and on the other column put “positive thoughts” For the next few days, when you notice your inner voice being neutral or positive, put a check mark on the positive side. Every time you notice a negative thought, put a check mark on the negative side. Quickly you’ll have a visual of where your thoughts are most of the day. This exercise will help you become more aware of your thoughts, making it easier to switch from negative to positive.

Remind yourself…

Most negative thoughts come from highly critical people in your life, the things you watch on TV, past negative experiences and basically things and people outside of you. If you grew up with parents that always criticized you, it’s not a surprise that you now always criticize yourself. If you were bullied or in an emotionally abusive relationship, that lowers your confidence, causing more negative self talk. These thoughts were planted in your mind by negative experiences. Your thoughts are NOT who you are.

Challenge the negative thoughts.

A simple way to do this is to question your thoughts. When you catch that inner voice being negative ask yourself:

  • Is it 100% true?
  • What’s the evidence supporting the negative thought? What’s the evidence against the negative thought?
  • How can I figure this out? Where can I find the help?
  • Is this something I can control?
  • What do I need to feel more secure? Then start taking action.

It also helps to look for past experiences where you acted strong and confident. That’s evidence that you have acted strong and confident before. It’s in you. You just have to bring it back out.

Train your subconscious mind.

Our subconscious mind is where all of our past experiences and beliefs are. This is also where our “mind programing” is. If you have a program in your mind that you are not good enough, you’ll stop yourself from doing the things you desire because deep down you feel you are not good enough. You can train your mind to think more positively automatically.

One great way to do this is to put up positive affirmations around your home, at work and as a screen saver on your phone.

You can also listen to subliminal messages as you sleep. Look up”confidence affirmations” on YouTube and then play it as you sleep.

Also, constantly plant more productive, positive thoughts in your mind by reading self-improvement books. I’ve written about some of my favorite books here.

To reprogram your mind, you have to be consistent and repeatedly plant healthier thoughts. Doing it once in a while will not work.


Consistently having a negative inner voice could lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety and low self-confidence.

Turning your inner voice into a self-confident friend does take practice. But with consistency, you will notice a shift from automatically looking at things in a negative way to looking for solutions, while also reassuring yourself.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

-Normal Vincent Peale



If you liked this post, share it with your friends and family. Subscribe to the Blog to continue receiving great content delivered straight to your inbox.

About the author. 

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and spanish-speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.


How To Be Selfish: When To Take Time for Yourself

I wrote the following post for Love Magazine a few months ago and wanted to share it with all my email subscribers. Hope you find it helpful!


The word selfish has a negative connotation. It brings up images of a greedy person who will make themselves feel better at the expense of others. Although there are times where selfishness can hurt other people, there are certain times that you must be selfish in order to improve yourself and your relationships.

Let me explain. We’ve all heard the example of the flight attendant telling passengers to put the oxygen mask on first before helping others. Well, if you try to help a passenger out first before putting on your own mask, you could possibly pass out, unable to help the other passenger. Now there are two people that are helpless.

In relationships, we tend to put other’s needs before our own. And this isn’t necessarily a good thing. You can become resentful, burn out, and get sick.

Most likely, you are the backbone of your family. People depend on you to get things done. You bring home the money, cook, clean, run people around, and organize family life. If you’re the one doing all of this, what happens when you get sick, can’t work, or just can’t be present for them? This is precisely why you must put yourself first. Here are four ways you can begin to put yourself first starting today.

1. Set boundaries with your time. If you say “yes” every time someone asks you to do something, you’ll quickly burn yourself out. Give yourself a limit of how many things you’ll be able to get done every week. If someone tries to volunteer you to do something, just reply, “Thank you for asking, but I already have a full schedule this week. Maybe next time.” If you feel that things just can’t get done without you, remember that they will find someone else to help. If you have trouble saying “no” to things, remember that every time you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else.
A word of caution: Some people might not like that you’re setting boundaries. They’re used to you doing everything and they were sort of trained this way. Just remind yourself that there may be an adjustment period both for you and those around you.
Setting boundaries with your time, allows you to use your time effectively. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. No one has more, no one has less. So why is it that some people seem to get so much done, while others get very little done in a day? It’s primarily because those that get things done know how to manage their time effectively.
Setting boundaries are healthy. You’re taking care of your own mental health while modeling realistic limits to those around you.

2. Schedule some me time. Pencil in time in your calendar to do something that relaxes you. (If you don’t have a planner, having one will also help you stay organized with your time.) Make it an appointment and priority. It could be giving yourself a break for as little as 10 minutes. If you think you don’t have 10 minutes for yourself, please re-read #1.

This time is supposed to be something that relaxes and re-energizes you. It could be anything from watching a funny YouTube video on your phone before picking the kids up, taking a hot shower a little longer than usual, painting your nails, driving home the long way to have alone time in the car, taking a supportive friend out for lunch, reading, etc. The activity itself does not matter as long as it’s something that you enjoy. Schedule a personal activity every week, ideally every day.

3. Ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you know your limits. Plus, delegating makes you feel empowered. If there’s something that takes up a lot of your time, see if you could either hire it done or just simply ask one of your family members to pitch in. It’s not fair for you to be in a cranky mood because you have too much going on, when you choose to do everything and not ask for help.

4. Do something that you love. Who said that we have to live boring, routine lives when we grow up?! If you do something you love for a living, congratulations. But it doesn’t have to necessarily be something you get paid to do. When was the last time you wrote, painted, played an instrument or went for a run? Make it a priority to do something that you truly enjoyed doing before, but may have neglected.

When you are feeling happy and relaxed, it rubs off on others and creates a positive domino effect. Therefore, putting yourself first is not a selfish mindset. It benefits you and everyone around you. You are the leader of your pack. Lead by example and you’ll start to see the rewards.


If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.


Why It Doesn’t Matter What Other People Think of You

No matter how old a person is, a teenager or an adult, caring about what others think of them bothers so many people. A lot of people claim not to care about what others think, but their feelings and behaviors tell a different story.

It’s normal to want to fit it and be accepted by others. But when you put too much value on other peoples opinions, it can damage your own self confidence. It can seem as if you’re “cold” when you really don’t care about what others think. But placing value on other peoples opinions can make you take things personal, which can then feel negative. Here is what I’ve learned about why it really doesn’t matter what other people think of you.

Everyone has their own opinions and preferences. Think of your favorite singer, actor, food, color, etc. Something that you absolutely love. I bet you can also find a lot of people that don’t agree with you and actually hate that singer, actor, food, color, etc.

If you’re placed in a room with 100 people and everyone is asked their opinion on something, a song for example, you’ll have  almost 100 different opinions. Everyone has a right to their own opinions and preferences on things. It doesn’t make them right or wrong, it’s just a different opinion than yours. Just like you don’t agree with people on different topics.

I can not find who said this but I remember a quote that said “You can be the most juciest, sweetest pineapple, and there will always be people who don’t like pineapples.”

Everyone sees life from their own point of view. E-v-e-r-y  s-i-n-g-l-e person on this planet is an individual. Little kids, your teacher, your boss, your parents, everyone. All of the experiences we go through in life, the things we were taught by our parents and society, the culture we grow up in, so many things shape who we are and how we see the world.

Someone who was abused as a child most likely will grow up thinking that no one can be trusted. They’ll see the world as a scary place.

Someone who had loving, caring affectionate parents may grow up thinking that there are loving and caring people in the world. Yes there are people who do hurtful things, but there are also a lot of good people. Which one is right about the world? That all depends on their point of view.

Maybe the following scenario has happened to you. You are out with a friend when you see a nice looking luxury car. You’re so amazed by the way this car looks that you might say “wow look at that car! I hope to one day be able to drive something like that” while your friend replies with “I don’t like fancy cars. Rich people are so spoiled”

The car driver doesn’t even know you two are talking about them. They’re just driving along minding their own business. But maybe you have big dreams and goals and are happy to see examples of wealth around you. Maybe you have learned that anything is attainable if you set your mind to it.  But your friend who struggles financially will see the luxury car as an unattainable thing and basically hate on the car and driver. They most likely grew up with negative teachings about money.

This is just an example but an all too common scenario. Replace the car with any material thing, a romantic relationship, or a body type. The point is, everyone has their own perspective in life that’s shaped by the things they have experienced and learned.

You never know what someone else is going through. Image you’re at the store buying something for a friends birthday. You say hello to the cashier and she ignores you. She then acts very rude towards you. What did you do to her? The answer is absolutely nothing. The fact is that there is something going on within her that is making her be rude. Maybe her kid is sick at home and she’s unable to take off. Or she was in an argument with a co-worker earlier that day.  Or maybe she’s just an unhappy person. It doesn’t make it okay for her to be rude. That’s just not professional.  But it really does not matter why she’s upset the point is that it had nothing to do with you. It’s not personal.

Next time someone is being rude, ask yourself “I wonder what they’re going through that’s making them act this way” instead of just reacting and possibly making the situation worse.

Here’s another example. You’re driving in your car, listening to music, minding your business, when another car cuts you off almost hitting you. You see the other car driving recklessly.  You can get angry and try to chase them to give them the finger. Or you can stop and ask yourself  why they may be acting like that. Maybe they’re in a rush to the hospital because a family member had an emergency. Or maybe they are just a terrible driver. The point is, its not personal.

I’m not saying you should allow people to be rude to you. What I’m saying is to take a few seconds to be curious about other people’s behavior. It can help you not take it personal and not react in a negative way, because we never know what other people are going through.


Trying to shift the way you look at things when you hear people talk about you, or disagree with you on something, helps you not take it personal. Be curious about other people’s behaviors. Because it doesn’t matter what other people think about you or what they do with their life. They’re seeing life from a different place than you are.

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own mind;they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.” -Don Miguel Ruiz

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.


Building Self-Esteem

Our self-esteem is the foundation for everything in our lives. How we feel about ourselves affects the jobs we go after, our relationships, the way we carry ourselves, the goals we set, and so much more.

Self-esteem is simply the confidence that we have in ourselves that we can accomplish goals and tasks in our life. It’s that little voice in your head that says “I don’t know what I’m doing but I’ll figure it out”. Or if self-esteem is weak, it’ll say “I hate myself”

Building self-esteem takes time but with some practical steps done consistently, you can start building your confidence.

  • Notice when that little voice in your head is saying negative things. It could be “I’m so stupid”, “I look disgusting”, “I can’t do anything right” or any variations of this.
  • After you catch yourself thinking these negative thoughts, change the words to switch the thought. For example, instead of thinking/saying “I’m so stupid” replace it with, “gosh I messed up. How can I fix this” or “I hate how my body looks” to ” “how can I stay motivated to do something about getting healthy” With time you’ll have more positive thoughts than negative ones.
  • Spend time with supportive, positive people. If you’re trying to work on yourself, limit how much time you’re around people that put you down. If you can’t control this because it’s family, learn to build a buffer so that their comments don’t affect you. Once strategy is to imagine an invisible shield around you. Anything anyone says to you, it bounces right back to that person.
  • Set small and large goals for yourself that are challenging, but manageable. Large goals are things that take time to achieve. Small goals could be things you can do in a day or week. You can read my post on goal setting here.
  • If you’re filled with fear at working towards goals, break them down into small steps. Do something everyday that moves you closer to the goal.
  • Keep a journal or note on your phone of all the great things that you have already done. This is your evidence of how great you are. Every time some one pays you a compliment, write it down. Every time you do something that was scary but you did it, write it down. This is not being conceded. This is reminding yourself of all that you’ve already been through and survived. We all go through hard times in life. Remind yourself of how you over came those things. If you got through those things, you can get through anything.
  • Do something nice for yourself. Treat yourself to something you enjoy or dress up.

Remember that this takes some time, if you’re confidence is not too strong to start with. But be kind to yourself and stay consistent.

“Each person has got a voice inside them. Communicate with it and take hold of it. Do not let it push and shove you around – you are its master!”
― Stephen Richards


If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.


Thinking of Starting Therapy? Here are 5 tips.

Seeking help when you’re going through a difficult time in your life can be hard. You might feel embarrassed, intimidated, …

A Beginners Guide on How to Meditate

I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of meditation and how it’s such a wonderful thing. Meditating …

Coping Skills to Help Reduce Stress in Difficult Times.

I know many are probably looking for coping skills that they can turn to in difficult times. – Learning how to share …