As I have previously discussed, self-confidence and commitment are essentially symbiotic variables; one cannot hope to thrive without the other — especially within a nutrition-based lifestyle. A lack of commitment can quickly derail your chances for success, which can subsequently damage your confidence as you rack your brain for what went wrong, critiquing your every move along the way. On one hand, these mental impulses make sense — missing a goal is anything but pleasant, and it is human nature to sometimes let this frustration manifest as harsh self-criticism.

However, too much negative self-talk can have a detrimental impact on your subconscious if left unchecked. By criticizing yourself beyond what is healthy, you increase your chances of letting self-deprecation become a habitual behavior — and this will only hinder you further as you work to get back on track. Your inner critic should be a motivator, not a fault-finder.

That said, here are five quick tips for eliminating negative self-talk.

Know what triggers your self-critic

An important preliminary step in eliminating negative self-talk is to identify your trigger points — those factors that seem to rile up your inner critic without fail. This process is clinically referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or the process of tracing your behavioral tendencies to recognize unhelpful or unhealthy thought patterns. Begin by asking yourself key questions about your most recent negative thought spiral: do you feel this way because you missed a monthly goal? Did you succumb to a cheat impulse and feel angry as a result? Whatever the reason, keep a record of why it impacted your way of thinking. This heightened self-awareness will keep your mind focused as you tackle your day-to-day goals.

Make yourself less results-oriented

Nutritional endeavors typically begin with a broad desired endpoint — usually a target weight goal. While your goals should stand as a positive motivating factor, it is also important to focus on the foreground, or the outside, rather than just on the finish line. An “outside-in” approach is a quick gateway to external pressure, which in turn generates self-judgement as you scrutinize every setback. Your goals are contingent on the daily promises you keep to yourself, and while the road to success may be difficult, it is important to remain positive, relaxed, and consistent.

Treat it as a game

Almost any nutrition-based decision boils down to an internal battle between two versions of yourself, and the process of self-talk is no different. A setback can ignite a volley between unhealthy self-criticism and constructive self-feedback, and sometimes the best way to disarm the former is to force yourself to visualize the latter; for instance, flip the scenario in your head from “I failed and cannot lose weight” to “I experienced a setback, but I will learn from it and still lose weight.” You may surprise yourself with the amount of evidence backing up your new position.