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Negatively Self-Labeling: How We Hurt Ourselves

Negatively Self-Labeling: How We Hurt Ourselves

Lee Aldrich MiddlesageYou would probably never walk into the kitchen and intentionally cut yourself with a knife. That would be nuts. You’d need stitches, and a really good explanation to the doctor, your family, your friends as to just why you sliced yourself. So then how come we slice ourselves with words that we repeat to ourselves until they become one of our truths? The difference is that although a physical slice is there for all to see, the mean things we say about ourselves – TO ourselves – is a pain we endure silently. Why do treat ourselves so badly?

Whether labels others have called us and we have adopted, or labels we have given ourselves and worn like a coat, they affect our outlook on life, our emotions, and the ability to reach our full potential. PsychologyDictionary.org defines negative self-talk as:

“the expression of thoughts or feelings which are counter-productive and have the effect of demotivating oneself.”

Negative self-talk lives in the land of make-believe because the labels we give ourselves we believe to be true, when in actuality they are usually very far from the truth.

We may tell ourselves we’re stupid, fat, lazy, not as good as others, crazy, weird, people won’t like me, I have to be perfect, etc.,etc., etc., and although we may be successful at convincing ourselves, the reality is we are usually none of these. Unfortunately, we may be so successful at convincing ourselves that we are less than, that according to recoveryhope4all.com, negative thoughts:

“often come so automatically that we are unaware of them. We start to feel anxious, sad or depressed, but we do not notice the thoughts that are causing us to feel that way. In order to counter these thoughts and feel better, we first need to “catch ourselves in the act” of negative self talk.”

In order to test the truth of our perceptions, the article continues, examine the self-talk by:

“asking yourself questions, such as:

  • What evidence backs up this thought?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
  • Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen?
  • How likely is it?
  • What is the best that can happen?
  • What is most likely to happen?
  • Is thinking this way helping me to feel good or to achieve my goals?”
In order to work on eliminating negative self-talk from our minds, we need to be aware of the emotions behind them. Are we anxious because of the negative self-talk, or is the negative self-talk causing our stress? Either way, one feeds the other, and we are caught in an unending circle of meanness and self-loathing.
file3721264377199Mike Bundrant’s article “Negative Self-Talk: Top 10 Things NOT to Say to Yourself” on PsychCentral.com, gives four simple steps in dealing with negative self-talk:

1. Catch yourself. So often we run on autopilot and allow our minds to ruin our day. So, start each day with the conscious goal to catch yourself saying negative things.

2. Call a spade a spade. Next, label what you just said! Recognize it as negative self talk.

3. Use the following formula: “I just had the thought…” (repeat the negative thought here).

If you caught youself saying, “I am not worth it,” for example, then you would pause and say, “I just had the thought, ‘I am not worth it.’”

Using this formula securely labels the thought as a mere thought. If you do not realize that what you said was just a thought, you run a higher risk of taking it personally and allowing it to ruin your day.

4. Take a deep breath and move on!

How much happier would our lives be if we actually saw the good in ourselves that other people see in us? We would probably never talk to other people like we talk to ourselves, so we need to learn to treat ourselves as we would another person…with respect and kindness. We are so incredibly hard on ourselves. The first step to healing our self-inflicted hurts is being aware of what we say to ourselves.
file000171632660We need to repeat over and over Katheryn Stockett’s words of wisdom, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” When we negatively label ourselves, the only person it hurts is us. Isn’t it time to stop the name calling?





  1. As a step to becoming more aware of self-hating thoughts and messages, I am paying more attention to self-hate-talk from friends and family. There’s sure a lot, ESPECIALLY fat-talk.
    beverlydiehl recently posted…Dear Author… Are You Smoking Crack? On #GoodReads & #bookreviewsMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      29 July

      Beverly – it’s amazing how those wicked twisted thoughts can enter our mind. And unfortunately we are our own worst enemies. It’s hard to believe that we probably wouldnt say to others what we say internally to ourselves. I have found the being aware of what my stream of consciousness is floating through my mind is half the battle in damming off the thoughts. Thank you for your comment!

  2. Years ago a therapist told me I was my own worst enemy! I work on catching the thoughts, labeling them and viewing them as little waves on the beach..they roll in and then leave quickly.
    Walker Thornton recently posted…Weiner’s Weiner–Not Fit For Office?My Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      25 July

      I Love the analogy of the waves on the beach! We’re going to have those negative thoughts every now and then….the trick is not to hold on to them.

    • Lee Aldrich

      29 July

      Walker – that’s a fabulous analogy and great way to view the thoughts! Being aware that we say those things internally to ourselves is the first step in knocking them out all together. Thank you for your visual and insightful comment!

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