Positive affirmations are a bit of a trend right now. I've always been more of a pessimist, though, so positive self-talk doesn't come naturally to me. Negative self-talk became a habit, a routine that almost felt comforting. Familiar, at least.
It's not necessarily bad to be a pessimist! Your critical eye helps you analyze situations and quickly make improvements. You over-prepare and you're ready for anything. It only gets dangerous when you're hurting someone. And that someone is likely yourself.
If you're in a reasonably emotionally stable time in your life, even if you're a pessimist, you could surely force yourself to say some nice, affirming things in your head. "You've got this," "I'm confident and collected," and the like.
But when you're in the thick of things (think full-on panic attack, crisis mode, mind racing, up-all-night self-hate), it's impossible to think positively.
It is possible however, to think neutrally.
How can you go from thinking "I'm a horrible person" to thinking "I'm a good person" in just one day? It's not going to happen, so go ahead and let go of that goal.
I know this from experience. Staring in the bathroom mirror in the middle of the night. Looking at myself and not finding anything good.
I could find something neutral.
I changed "I'm a bad person" to "I'm just a person."
I moved from "I'm a failure" to "I'm struggling and that's OK."
Moving away from negative self-talk isn't something that happens quickly, especially if it has been ingrained in your head after years of practice. Try correcting yourself with a neutral version of your negative thought every time it comes up, and if you're like me, eventually the negative will come up less often.
Practicing yoga and meditation has helped me be less judgmental of myself and of others. I actually don't think of anyone as a "good" or "bad" person anymore. We're all just people. And we're good enough.