Your thoughts are holding you back.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Unhelpful negative thoughts.
Photo courtesy of

Negative self-statements.

Saying negative things about yourself creates negative results.

People who routinely practice positive affirmations begin to feel better about themselves.

Running yourself down in your own head will destroy self-esteem and hold you back from being the person you could become.

How many of these negative self-statements have you been telling yourself?

I’m stupid.

A natural impulse when you make a mistake is to run yourself down with a categorical statement such as “I am stupid.” Even the smartest people make mistakes. Avoid such global condemnations. One error does not make you stupid. There is no evidence that calling yourself names is effective in improving your performance. In fact, calling yourself stupid is one way of avoiding trying again. Acknowledge your mistakes and consider them improvement opportunities. Tell yourself to work and study harder so that you don’t make the same mistakes over and over.

I’m too young or too old.

One way of avoiding facing challenges is to tell yourself that you have some inherent flaw which prevents you from accomplishing your goal. If you are alive, you’re not too old to live. You’re never too young to start working on yourself. Many people go back to school and retrain for a new career. Plenty of successful business people have started new ventures at a time when they were past the normal retirement age. Younger people may have an advantage at some things, but not others. The goal of life ought to be becoming the best you can be, not requiring yourself to be better than everyone else.

I have bad luck.

Luck changes by the day. Most “luck” is the result of hard work and persistence. When you use bad luck as an excuse to avoid trying, you create your own bad luck. The people with the best luck are the people who tried the most.

People don’t like me.

The belief that control of your life is out your hands and that your happiness depends on others takes you nowhere. What other people think of you should not determine your self-worth. Most of the time the people you think don’t like you are too busy with their own lives to pay you any attention. If there are people in your life who don’t like you, work on repairing those relationships or decide that those people don’t matter.

It’s too hard.

Worthwhile things are often hard. If you want to build up muscles, you must exercise. To accomplish things in your life, you need to take on challenges. If you go through life avoiding the hard things you will cheat yourself out of many accomplishments.

I will look foolish.

Where in the life manual does it say, you should never look foolish? What’s so bad about looking foolish? The persons whose opinion should most matter is yours. The only people who have never looked foolish are those who have done nothing with their lives, which sounds like a foolish way to live.

No one loves me.

Work on fixing this problem. Start by loving yourself. Re-examine your relationships. Get rid of negative, toxic people in your life where possible. Start small and work your way up. Getting a pet, a dog, or a cat can be a good first step in learning to love and accept being loved. Don’t expect too much from love. Love is not about perfection but about accepting the imperfections.

I’m too fat, skinny, tall, short, stupid, smart.

Believing that personal characteristics can prevent you from a successful life is just one more way of making excuses. Work on improving yourself where possible and the things you can’t change, learn to accept them. Rather than using characteristics as excuses for avoiding things, ask yourself what things you could be successful at and pursue those wholeheartedly.

I’ve been hurt too much.

Part of life is getting hurt. Don’t give up your future by looking back over your shoulder at the past. Put some effort into healing from the hurt. Learn from your life experiences; they have made you who you are. If you look back on your life, the you of today is probably quite different from the you of past years. Don’t let who you are or what you been through prevents you from becoming the who you should be.

I won’t be able to.

This statement is one of the worst of self-fulfilling prophecies. If you tell yourself you can’t, what you’re saying is, I don’t want to. Tell yourself you can, and you will accomplish a great many things that you and others might have thought impossible. You will never know what might’ve been possible if you talk yourself out of trying.

Stop preventing the life you should have by using negative self-statements.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at


3 thoughts on “Your thoughts are holding you back.

  1. Pingback: Your thoughts are holding you back. — counselorssoapbox – MyTake

  2. I could not agree with you more. What we tell ourselves is as important as what we tell our superiors at work. We must treat ourselves as the boss and give the right selftalk. If not we end up as a bunch of soul sucking organisms. Also gratitude practice is worth its weight in gold!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.