Happiness comes from within. What we think of ourselves shines through in all our actions. Being negative and possessing self-hatred can limit the quality of lives we live since such thinking makes us feel less than or incapable. Altering those self-defeating thoughts and improving one’s mental health is the key to living a full life and luckily there are some ways to go about doing so.
What Are Self-Defeating Thoughts?
When individuals are anxious, depressed, or have low self-worth, they usually begin to think of themselves negatively. Over time they become stuck in this pattern of self-defeating thinking. This is often the case with people struggling with mental illness and/or addiction. They are aware of the social stigma towards their affliction and often think that others are watching them with judgment. This leads to them thinking lesser of themselves and thus prevents them from seeking treatment for their mental health. After all, if you think others see you in a bad light, and you too have low self-esteem, where is the drive to change your mindset or get better?
Many assume that self-defeating thoughts are not a dire issue to be addressed, that they are not as dangerous as perhaps suicidal thoughts. But most fail to realize that over time self-defeating thoughts become more critical and unforgiving over time. And staying in such a bad mental space for long is not good for mental health.
In some cases, self-defeating thoughts will cause mental illness rather than be a product of it. For example, constantly viewing your body as unattractive or full of flaws can lead to eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia as you try to mold your body into what you are constantly comparing it to. Lying awake replaying everything you have done wrong or any regrets you have not forgiven yourself for yet can produce sleep disorders like insomnia. Worrying about past or future failure, and not being good enough is anxiety-inducing. And viewing your state of being as terrible and incapable of being better is a major cause of depression. So, many people forget that our realities are shaped by our views.
Self-defeating thoughts confirm one’s negative opinions. It supports all their anxieties and fears. But often times such thoughts are not based in reality, they are a distorted way of thinking. They force individuals to focus of what they dislike about themselves, on all the unhappy memories of being unloved or unsuccessful. Memories of joy and accomplishment are forgotten or pushed to the back of the mind. Often people will think others are viewing them harshly when in fact no such thing is occurring. This mindset can eventually become so entrenched that self-defeating thoughts begin to appear natural or real; but they can still be mended with practice.
Your Mental Health
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 18.5% of adults in the United States are dealing with mental illness while 4% experience one so debilitating that it poses an obstacle to their ability to perform in school, work, family life, and relationships. Almost one in four American teenagers are expected to be living with a severe mental disorder at some point, with depression and anxiety being the most common. Depression involves a loss of interest in formerly enjoyable hobbies, withdrawing from loved ones, a feeling of worthlessness, and the idea that one has no control in life. Anxiety makes one overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty to the point that they can become reclusive and filled with panic.
The quality of our thoughts changes how we act in and interact with the world around us. Not only does it affect our self-perception but also the relationships we keep with other people. Esteem impacts the jobs we look for, opportunities we take, and what we think we are deserving of. That is why it is necessary that we work on ourselves to get rid of self-defeating thoughts. They are incredibly limiting and can alter the course of the lives that we live. Thankfully there are some ways to help turn around your negative thoughts so that you can fulfill your potential:
- Think about the person you would be without the fear and worry. Ask yourself a number of questions. Is your self-doubt keeping you away from the career opportunities that you would like to have? Are you creating problems in your relationships and friendships that would otherwise not be there? Where would you be without all the negativity? It is important to imagine yourself in this position, and know that you are capable of accomplishing all of that. Having the job you want, the relationship you want, living where you want to live. Once you are mentally healthy, you will see that all of this is within grasp and not simply a dream.
- Do not assume that everything you feel in a necessary reality. Sometimes honesty is not always the truth, and you should not take it as that. You may feel insecure about your body, that does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with it. You may feel that someone is critiquing you or does not like you, but that could be entirely false. It is okay to feel insecure and unsure about yourself and situations. But you must take those emotions with a grain of salt as they can be far-fetched. Sometimes the things in your head are just thoughts and nothing more. You may think you are failing in certain aspects of life because you may have not met the goals you personally held. Objectively, however, you probably are flourishing.
- Always try to succeed and be better even when you do not feel like it.If you are feeling unwell or incapable, that does not mean you must sit in those emotions and dwell on them. You must push yourself to overcome those self-defeating thoughts and not let your mental health dictate your actions. Negative thoughts make you do what you think you are capable of doing, however, sometimes you can achieve so much more and it is important to be aware of this. Think about what your long-term hopes are and how to go about achieving them without daily setbacks deterring you from that path. Accomplishing something despite everything in your mind working against you provides a great sense of relief. You feel stronger than ever and it is always beneficial to surprise yourself with what you never knew before.
- Be realistic about your emotions.If you are feeling unworthy, you might think you cannot do something when in reality you do not want to. “Can’t” and “won’t” are very different things, so recognize the difference. If a task feels particularly difficult, you may think it is impossible to do when in reality it makes you feel uncomfortable and so you make excuses to not do it. And also keep everything in perspective. We take so much for granted in life. Allow yourself to feel grateful for the opportunity to challenge yourself and not have it be something forced onto you. There are many people who must do things every day to survive. They have no options, but knowing that you have a choice makes all the difference in how you approach things.
Contact Sunlight Recovery
Happiness and confidence are two things that make life much more manageable. Changing one’s internal thought processes and bettering mental health is key to feeling the euphoria of joy. Fighting against self-defeating thoughts produces a sense of accomplishment in one’s capabilities. You can prove yourself to the world and your own mind that you are worthy. Do not let fear and worry prevent you from living. Physical health is important too, but keep your mind and brain strong as well.
If you or someone you know wants to find out more about how to get mentally healthy and curb those self-defeating thoughts that are hindering progress, please contact Sunlight Recovery at 855-625-6684 for assistance on how to go about doing so.