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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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.

Member Comments

  • 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. - 10/14/2014 4:08:19 PM
  • 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. - 10/14/2014 12:11:19 PM
  • 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. - 10/14/2014 8:16:40 AM
  • 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. - 1/15/2014 3:27:27 AM
    I have been almost debilitated in my negative self-talk. A good support system is not always your family of origin, yet if you look, you may just find a friend or that family member that distant cousin who will be there for you. Its crazy how certain supports show up at the appropriate time in your life. I give thanks to God for these people! - 1/2/2014 10:44:04 PM
  • The voices of childhood are hard to overcome but slowly with my own inner voice and surrounding myself with the right friends the self doubt, negative self image are a smaller voice, they will never go away just make sure other voices are louder that will lead in the direction of positive self image and knowing I will succeed at this and anything I choose to pursue. - 11/22/2013 4:37:45 PM
  • I believe that I am my biggest enemy. I often doubt myself when it comes to new opportunities.
    But, with the new information that I have had the pleasure to read and learn, my whole outlook is changing. - 10/19/2013 2:26:18 PM
  • Excellent article...I love how it points out that we wouldn't take that from anyone else so why do we do it to ourselves??!! - 6/24/2013 2:45:02 PM
  • I once had a therapist tell me that I had an Olympic caliber self-critic! - 6/24/2013 12:28:43 PM
  • I know that my negativity has a direct effect on how I work out and what I'm able to accomplish with my days. After a life time of negativity -- it's hard to get back on track - -but the little sparks and reminders really help! - 6/24/2013 6:59:55 AM
  • I never really thought about the impact all my negative thoughts about myself. I know that's if you tell yourself over and over that you can't succeed that it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. The most successful I have ever been on weight loss/exercise programs and school is when I manage to keep the negative thoughts out and convince myself that I can do it even if it is hard. It's going to take a long time to try to change this habit since I've been doing it for so long, but I'm going to try. - 6/24/2013 5:13:51 AM
  • I know that I tend to listen to the negative. I think I have allowed others voices to become my voice and that is not fair to myself. - 6/24/2013 12:31:21 AM
  • This is sooooo very true. I know I am my own worst enemy. Even if others compliment me I have a bad habit of telling myself "oh, they just said that to be nice, they didn't really mean it. Thanks for the motivation to be kinder to myself and believe in myself!! - 5/28/2013 3:26:42 PM
  • This is absolutely true. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Great article! - 5/14/2013 7:24:51 AM
  • I've heard those opening comments most of my childhood - from my parents towards us girls. I'm still battling the demon voices in my head - years after leaving home. Parents, please, please, please, watch what you say to your children! At 56, I'm still trying to fix my own self-image. - 4/13/2013 10:41:25 AM

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