Do you ever wrestle with self-defeating thoughts and beliefs? You’re not alone, friend. We’ve all had them at one time or another. You know, the ones, the nit-picky negative thoughts that creep in. 

What’s a self-defeating thought or belief?

Your Dictionary describes self-defeating in this way: Some action or behavior that sabotages the thing that you are trying to accomplish. Thoughts or actions that defeats its own purpose or unwittingly work against itself.

Let’s look at some thoughts and tips to help you overcome them

Filtering— Focusing on the negative to the exclusion of the positive.

Tip— Try to do the opposite when you’re thinking/feeling bad.


Black & White Thinking — Things are good or bad – it’s all or nothing with no middle ground. 

Tip  Look for the exception to your point of view – yes, but. . . 

Overgeneralization— Exaggerating or taking things to the extreme.

Tip— Avoid words such as: always, never, every, all, none, everybody, and nobody. Question the extremes. Is there any time that it’s not true?   

Mind Reading— Making assumptions about an outcome or someone’s motivation.

Tip— Can you really know what’s going to happen or why something happens? What another person’s intentions are? How can you know for sure? What are other possibilities?  

Catastrophizing— AKA awfulizing – expecting and projecting the worst.

Tip Remember that there is usually more than one possible outcome, and the worst catastrophe usually does not happen.   

Personalization— It’s all about me – I did it wrong— it’s my fault – I can’t do anything right – they hate me – I am the only one who can do this. 

Tip— How do you know? Prove it, or consider other possibilities. Take ownership and let others take ownership.  

Control Fallacies Either you have no control, or you can control everything. 

Tip— Let go of what you can’t control and be realistic about what you really can handle.   

Faccacy Of Fairness— You think everything should be fair.  

Tip— Friend, life is not fair. And accepting this will help you have more realistic expectations.    

Blaming— You don’t take responsibility for your choices and project fault onto others.   

Tip Take responsibility and own your choices; this includes your feelings. Nobody else can make you feel or do anything. How you feel or react is up to you. Blame isn’t necessary/helpful – it is what it is. 

Shoulds—Words like should, ought, and must further impossible expectations often result in disappointment, resentment, and failure.   

Tip— Flexibility is the key here. Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt.   

Emotional Reasoning— A belief that your emotions are based on truth. 

Tip— Challenge emotions with logic. Look for exceptions that are reasonable and possible.  

📢Dear friend, if you find self-defeating thoughts taking over your life, seek help from a professional. Sometimes asking for help can feel embarrassing, but don’t let that self-defeating thought overcome you when seeking help. It’s okay to ask for help. A trained professional has the tools to help you work through times like these.


Let’s reflect on some Bible verses

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24— NIV

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9— NIV

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5— NIV

Photo by Leon Biss on Unsplash

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  1. Paula, I got a kick out of your use of the word "awfulizing." I'd never heard that term before but I can totally relate because I have a couple "Eeyores" in my life who always believe the worst case scenario is about to happen!

    Also, love that you provided scriptures to dwell on and replace negative thoughts.

  2. Great counsel, Paula! I'm passing it along to a family member that struggles in this area.

  3. Lol, Jerri. I used to be a big "eeyyore" myself. I'm happy to know you found this useful.

  4. Thank you Lisa. Yes, please pass this on. I'm happy to hear this may aid in helping someone. Blessings my friend.

  5. I am the queen of catastrophizing! My family calls me Eeyore, so I have to stick close to eternal truth to counteract my default!

  6. I'm that way too. I always have to be quick to catch myself.

  7. Oh I love this, Paula. I'm a big mind reader – something I'm trying to stop doing!

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