Health & Wellness Articles

Why Do We Beat Ourselves Up?

A Look at Self-Destructive Thoughts


If we had friends that treated us the way that many of us treat ourselves, they wouldn’t be our friends for very long. Imagine a friend who calls up just to complain–about you. Or an alleged buddy who quickly says “I told you so” when you screw up. Or someone who encourages you to give up instead of encouraging you to do your best.

Why do we do this? Why do we treat ourselves in such horrible ways? For some, the negative self-talk is so bad that it would literally be considered verbal abuse if coming from another person. Do any of these sound familiar? “I’m not good enough.” “I knew I’d fail.” “I can’t believe I messed it up again.” “Why can’t I be more like (fill in the blank)?” “I don’t deserve to be happy.” If someone said these things to you, imagine the impact it would have on your confidence.

Negative self-talk can easily turn into a damaging self-fulfilling prophecy where you live down–instead of up–to expectations. It’s a bad habit that could strangle any growth and needs to be dealt with now. This is not “friend” talk. Yet it’s exactly the kind of destructive feedback we give ourselves.

This kind of language can have serious consequences, but people turn it on themselves all the time. Why? What did we do to deserve this? Is our self-esteem so low that we think we need to be talked to–even by ourselves–like this? Hopefully not.

You’re a fantastic person on an exciting journey, in the middle of creating a life that you want. If I were you, I wouldn’t put up with that negative voice in your head. You deserve better. If anything, your self-esteem needs to be built up, not torn down. What’s so wrong with reminding yourself of how wonderful you are? Isn’t that what you would do for a friend who needed a word of encouragement?

Sometimes, this can be easier said than done. Any self-bashing you might do may actually have its roots in something other people have told you over the years. Harsh words can leave scars that never go away. Still, that doesn’t mean we have to carry on the legacy of beating ourselves up.

You deserve to be treated with respect, encouragement and patience. You demand that much from people you know. Demand it from yourself.

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Member Comments

  • lots to think about
  • This article really made me think. It's what I needed to read to stop beating up myself with negative self-talk.
    Thank you for this article!
  • JACKIEF288
    Thank you, just what I needed to hear. I have started taking classes this past January, and am constantly beating myself up for not getting A's. I haven't been to school for over twenty five years, so it's been a struggle to keep up with everything. Your motivational stories are wonderful, I need make time to track my meals and read more. The holidays threw me off track for a little while, but I'm turning the corner.
    I beat myself up all the time because I heard someone make a negative comment at the gym. I read these articles which helps a lot. thanks
    Thanks for this. I hurt my knee while running and have been beating myself up for about a week about it.
  • This article hit the sweet spot (in a good non-sugary way).
  • Thank you. this was exactly what I needed today.
  • It wasn't until I started feeling better about myself that I started losing weight. Years ago, I went out and bought a bunch of new clothes for a new job. Clothes that fit and looked nice made me feel so good - totally kick-started my self esteem. It's amazing how nice clothes that fit you properly will make you feel about yourself. And then I lost a bunch of weight and can't wear them anymore. But it was so worth the money.
  • My therapist has made me put a note on my desk because I'm one of those "silver lining" people to everyone else, BUT myself. All my post-it says is

    "Have compassion for YOURSELF! You can do this?"

    On those days when I'm feeling not so proud of myself that note, as small as it is, really does work.
    Letting go of the negative self-talk was one of the most important steps on my journey to wellness. It wasn't until I stopped the self-abuse that I could begin to work on my health in any meaningful way.
  • You grow up believing the adults in your life know what is best for you and that their words are the ones to live by. By the time you realize the voices of your childhood are hurting you and not helping you they are so ingrained it is a battle to keep them at bay. I know this is a battle that will last the rest of my life. Since the voices of my childhood won't go away I know I can never give in to them and let them dominate my life anymore. It is not easy but I know I can do it.

About The Author

Mike Kramer Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.