Stop Holding Yourself Back: Defeat Self-Defeating Thinking
We all tend to internalize negative messages we receive, whether they are from our parents, friends, or romantic partners. These messages may have been explicitly spoken, or merely communicated through actions, or even inactions. We are often unaware of the degree to which we have internalized these negative thoughts. What happens is that we start to feel depressed and defeated. We may feel like we “take things personally” when criticized by others. We may even redirect our negative feelings about ourselves onto others by being overly critical or perfectionistic. And we have no idea why we are doing this.
The first step is to try to identify negative thoughts you have about yourself. For most people with this issue, this will be the easiest step. People suffering from self-defeating thinking are used to beating themselves up every day.
The second step is to try to identify the origin of these messages. This will be much more difficult, and may require the assistance of a professional counselor. Start thinking about what your parents told you, if they compared you unfavorably to other siblings, etc. Think about what past romantic partners have said about you, if they told you that you can’t do anything right or were constantly discussing your weaknesses.
Then, try to dispute these messages. Look for instances in your life when these things weren’t true. You will probably discover that these negative messages aren’t accurate! Think about the person sending the message and what may be motivating them. Remember, negative messages are often more about the sender than the receiver.
If your self-defeating thinking is really ingrained, you may need the assistance of a professional counselor to help you correct it. That’s okay. Think of it as hiring an objective coach that can evaluate how well your current thinking matches up with your past behavior. You will need to do this to be able to determine where your thinking errors lie.
Start today! Your self-defeating thinking has held you back long enough.