We’ve all been there. In those moments late at night or early in the day—standing in a crowd or completely alone—when those little thoughts creep in and settle themselves in the deepest corners of our minds.
'You’re not good enough. They’re better than you. You don’t deserve anything.'
Self-defeating thoughts can come when we least expect them and tear down our self-esteem and break our spirits. So how can we stand up to them and choose joy instead? Explore these five ways to overcome self-defeating thoughts.
1. Test your reality.
The first step in overcoming negative thoughts is recognizing that they’re only in your head—they’re not real. When you start to experience self-defeating thoughts, take time to question why you feel this way, what is making you think this and how it does not reflect reality.
Some questions to consider are: What is my evidence for this thought? Is it my interpretation or a fact? Would anyone else say this about me? When you challenge your negative thoughts, your brain comes back to reality and recognizes its overt inaccuracies.
2. Put it in perspective.
Sometimes when we experience self-defeating thoughts, our emotions overcome us and blow situations incredibly out of proportion. When this issue occurs, the best way to calm down and embrace positivity is to put everything in perspective.
Questions to ask yourself: Is the situation really as bad as it seems? What’s the worst possible outcome, and how likely is it? How much will this matter in one year, five years or ten years? Putting situations into perspective will not only help to calm your nerves, but will also help eliminate those pestering negative thoughts in your head.
3. Create a happy place.
If self-defeating thoughts are a continual struggle, give yourself a happy place to go when you feel overwhelmed. For instance, ask friends, family members and loved ones to write notes about how much they love you. Save them all up, and when you feel negativity creeping in, access your happy place and soak up the love.
Include things that truly make you happy in your space. If you’re a visual person, put together a poster of pictures with your loved ones. If you’re an audiophile, create and listen to a playlist with your favorite music. Whatever brings you joy, compile it and save it for a rainy day.
4. Establish a support system.
Everyone experiences self-defeating thoughts at some point. If you find yourself struggling more often than not, bring together some trustworthy friends and family as a support system for when you’re feeling down. Compile phone numbers, email addresses and information of those you know you can talk to when you need them.
Then, whenever you feel doubtful thoughts, fall back on your support system. We’re all here to support each other. After all, what are friends and family for?
5. Change your language.
Finally, and most importantly, overcome your self-defeating thoughts by changing your language. Whenever a negative thought comes, change your thought process into something you can feel good about.
For example, 'I suck at math' may be changed to '...but I’m an excellent writer'. Or 'I’m not good enough' could be '...but these people love me and think I am good enough'.
When it comes to defeating self-defeating thoughts, there’s no surefire way to beat them. However, putting these steps in place to overcome them can help you move forward. The most important thing is to lean on those around you and focus on coming through the other side with a more positive outlook on life.