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Stop Putting Yourself Down with Negative Self-Talk

Putting yourself down with negative self-talk damages your self-esteem. Find out how to stop the put downs, negative self-talk and build your self-esteem.

Putting yourself down can be damaging to your self-esteem and self-confidence. That includes the words you say out loud in addition to your internal negative self-talk. Negative thoughts and words can be very believable and they distort your perception about yourself. They impact on your sense of self-worth. When you talk negatively about yourself to others, the words have a greater effect. You’re also making it easier for others to put you down. The good news is that you can stop putting yourself down and build your self-esteem.

Why You Might Put Yourself Down

You may feel insecure, believe you’re not worthy or it might be a habit to put yourself down. You could be used to saying “I can’t,” “I don’t have talent,” “I’m ugly,” “I’m stupid” or “I’m useless.” You might have been put down by others in the past and continue to put yourself down. Alternatively you may believe it’s better to put yourself down before anyone else does.

Putting anyone down, including yourself, is emotional bullying. Most of us consider bullying from others as a bad thing, so why bully yourself? It seems like we have a double standard and treat others better than we treat ourselves. It’s not okay to put anyone down and that includes yourself.

How to Stop Putting Yourself Down

You can’t control what others say about you but you can control what you say about yourself.

To build your self-esteem, it’s important to talk about yourself in a healthy manner. Believe you are worthy and quit the self-bullying. Treat yourself as you would a good friend and respect yourself. Replace negative words with positive words. For example you could say “I’m capable” or “I’m learning” instead of “I’m useless” or “I’m stupid.” Words can make a big difference.

Two words that I recommend avoiding are “can’t” and should.” They are dis-empowering and it’s better to use alternatives when you can. For example, “can” is a good alternative to “can’t” and “could” is an alternative for “should.” Using positive affirmations might also help.

It’s important to pay attention to your negative talk — catch your negative thoughts or words early. Awareness is very important and it empowers you to make changes. Stop your negative thoughts or words and correct them as much as you can. This may be a challenge to start with and it’s important to be kind to yourself. It’s okay if you don’t get it right straight away. Change will take effort and habits won’t change overnight. Keep on practicing and you’ll see improvements. Change your talk and you will build your self-esteem.

In this self-esteem video, I talk about putting yourself down, and how you can stop it to build your self-esteem.

You can find Fay Agathangelou on FacebookGoogle+TwitterPinterest and her website.

15 thoughts on “Stop Putting Yourself Down with Negative Self-Talk”

  1. Im marzell Im not doing like I usually do like I feel dumb and stupid. I dont usually do things like how I used to like everytime I play my game on 2k17 I mess up everytime and my mind seems off on things and I always run too my moms when I tell her about the situation that happening and going through my head but it seems like she isnt good enough. And I stole a phone for somebody because they made me do it but I didnt tell him no because I didnt know how to say no and I just did it. And I kept worrying about things like am I going to keep my job or Im not doing things I usually do on a daily basis. I just need some answers on what to do. Or someone thats going to listen too me.

    1. Hi Marzell,

      Sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling lately. It sounds like you’re being burdened with quite a few difficult situations. It’s best to take things one day at a time and to see what adjustments you can make that will help you to view yourself differently. You say you feel “dumb” and “stupid”, but this negative self-talk can be challenged – this negative voice in our heads often doesn’t tell the truth, so it helps to talk back to it. Respond with the understanding that you make mistakes (like we all do!) and that you’re doing your best to improve. The fact that you’ve reached out shows you want to improve, which is far from a ‘dumb’ thing to do. It is in fact a very intelligent move!

      Take care Marzell. I wish you all the best.


  2. i am only 25, a single mom of three, and i struggle with my self worth. i was in an emotionallt abusive marriage with a man who put me down and cheated on me at every turn. but i dealt with it thinking that this was the life i was stuck with… he broke me so I would stay. i finally left after our third child but now…i cant get his words out of my head. its ruinung my current relatonship. i torture myself to the point that i cry daily from my own thoughts. i keep telljng myself im unattractive and useless. even though i work mh butt off daily and i know deep down im none of those things…but i csnt stop. its causing depression and anxiety… i wish i had a “coach” i guess. someone who could help mr build my esteem back… im going to try this method this next year. maybe i can fix myself if i focus hard enough…

  3. sorry if this is anonymous post and the thread is so old but everyone in my family keeps telling me to stop saying “I suck” or “I can never amount to that” with the music I play. this is a habit that phases in and out and I have had absolutely no self esteem all my life.

    1. Hi There– It’s a habit and just by commenting it shows that a big part of you wants to get rid of this habit, it doesn’t serve you. Every time you notice that you are critical in your self-talk, try to reframe it with a positive “And I’m learning to like myself more and more.” or “I am a great ____.” When you challenge your negative self-talk the less intrusive it will be and the better you will feel. I hope this helps Take Good Care, Emily Roberts

  4. I always down myself I tell myself you are so stupid and dumb the only time I feel good about myself is when I shop now I’m a shopaholic in debt. I don’t know what to do I can’t stop.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I can see that you struggle with negative thoughts about yourself. We all make mistakes and do things we wish we didn’t, be it spending too much money or any other number of things. Try to spend some time taking note of the qualities you like about yourself, what other people appreciate and compliment you on. When your opinion of yourself is based on what you know to be true, you may not feel that shopping is necessary to boost your self-esteem. But you also don’t need to be hard on yourself for shopping too much – you already recognise why you do it, which shows how self-aware you are.

      All the best,


  5. Hi….I used to be so confident. I believed in myself. Truly. Until every man I have ever met treated me like crap, cheated on me and now I feel like a shell. I am only 41 in a sex less marriage with a husband with a serious roving eye and everything else. I need to stay due to finances and my kids. But I am broken. I look in the mirror and see a ugly fat old lady. How do I end this cycle ?

    1. Shumara, you are brave for writing and honoring your desire to end this cycle. There are some great pieces here on Building Self-Esteem to help. Have you seen any that work for you? Have you worked with a coach or therapist before it could help also. Take good care, Emily

  6. I am 58 years old and have had low self-esteem since I can remember, even instances when I was 4 years old. Consequently, putting myself down from an early age until now became a way of living. To this day, I don’t believe I am smart enough, attractive enough, good enough, thin enough, teachable enough or any other of the enoughs we all want to be. In essence, I have been living my entire life this way. When my husband asked me to marry him, I was overwhelmed with questions, “why would he choose ME?”, “is he REALLY sure?”, “wait until he finds out what I’m truly like?” or “there are so many woman so much more worth him than I!” I doubt quite seriously, after this many years of self-contempt and negative thinking I will ever be able to change.
    My most earnest advice to those who are younger than I am is to PLEASE do anything and everything you can to BREAK this cycle, stop this painful treatment of yourself and know with everything in your heart that maintaining this way of thinking, tis believing will rob the joy from your life forever.

    1. Hi Judy, Thank you for commenting. I’m so grateful that you are seeing that this is a cycle and you can break it no matter how long it’s been plaguing you. I do agree that it can be hard however, there are therapies and resources that help. Have you done any work with a therapist or a group to learn to talk back to these thoughts or work on healing it? First of all, its brave and shows me that you really want to improve your self-esteem by reading this and commenting (virtual high five 🙂 ) and the more we practice catching our negative thoughts and reframing the less they will take over our minds. I also think Louise Hay’s work is very helpful too. Let me know your thoughts.

      Take Good Care,

      Emily Roberts

  7. This is a truly great post! I’ve struggled with poor self-esteem issues all of my life and still question myself at times. Right now I have a job I truly love (barista at Starbucks) that has been daunting to learn but I’ve stuck with it, despite a store manager who is impatient and prone to yelling at her employees while on the job in front of customers. VERY humiliating. I got into my car after my shift one day and cried for 10 minutes after being on the receiving end of her vitriol. Some guardian angel of a customer came to my rescue, called Starbucks corporate offices and filed a verbal complaint! Another customer went online and registered a written complaint too. IT WORKED! S.M. was disciplined and has backed off. Sometimes we all need outside support…but having the strength of character to weather this junk is so very vital too. Your words are much appreciated!

  8. I used to feel really great about myself. I lost over 20lbs and life was pretty great. Then, the bottom fell out. My body decided it didn’t like me anymore. No matter what I ate or did, the weight keeps coming back.
    I’m not morbidly obese but, by the guidelines I am just obese. Such an ugly word. I used to walk and do things but, I had a disc in my neck replaced and that put me way back beyond the starting line. My husband works a physical job all day and I have a desk job which makes things between us kind of hectic. I want to get out and do something after work and he’s tired and just wants to kick back, eat his supper and watch T.V. and “spend time together”. I really need a self-esteem booster.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for sharing your experience and sorry to hear that it’s been a challenge for you. I truly believe you can build your self-esteem. You’ve felt good about yourself in the past and you can get that feeling back. You don’t have to do it alone and it’s worthwhile getting professional help. Believe in yourself, you can do it.


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