How to Stop Looking Down on Yourself

One of the most debilitating factors of anxiety is something no-one really has enough of and learn how to improve - our self-confidence and our emotions.

In this article we are going to take a look at one of the most debilitating factors of anxiety. We are going to have a look at the thing no-one really has enough of and learn how to stop looking down on yourself, how to improve your self-confidence by boosting your self-esteem. After all, feeling good about yourself is a key step to overcoming the cycle of anxiety.

Stop Judging and Start Accepting

In the culture of today we place a great deal of importance on rating ourselves based on how we perceive other people think about us. Judging our achievements and successes by other people's standards effectively means that we are literally not using the right rod to measure ourselves. After all, life is not a continuous state of solidarity and sameness; each and every day is different, so that yardstick we use to measure ourselves by needs to change. Life is, by definition, unpredictable and so can our mood and self-esteem be, if we let them.

Many people struggle with the issues of self-acceptance more than others. They are under the impression that self-acceptance is the equivalent of admitting to failure, or giving up, but this is completely wrong and rigid thinking. After all, self acceptance isn't saying "Hey, I failed at this, I'll always fail at this'; it's more accurately saying that yes we can't be perfect at everything and that's OK, but also making the deal with yourself that you change the things that aren't acceptable.

One of the critical mistakes people make in their own self rating or judgment is in the assumption that we can be rated, judged or estimated. The truth is, we aren't cars on a lot, or flowers in a shop - instead we are living breathing people and whilst we can easily put a value on say a car, putting a value on ourselves is prone to a great number of difficulties and problems.

When we're suffering from anxiety, often the biggest mistake we make is that we judge ourselves too poorly. So today we're going to try something new and altogether revolutionary. We're going to float the idea that you should stop judging, and start accepting people and ourselves for simply being human.

Losing the Labels

How many times have you called yourself a loser, a failure, inferior or crazy? Often one of the many examples of unfair things that we do to ourselves is wrongful self-labeling. By calling yourself names, you are only putting yourself down. Whether it is out loud or in your own head, self-labeling is an extremely critical and negative aspect of inappropriate self-judgment. After all every negative label we use often has a positive alternative. If you've ever called yourself a failure, think of something you have succeeded at.

Struggling to think? Well, you have got this far, haven't you?

Take a look at the list below; there are a lot of "bad names' or labels that are commonly used. But can you see for every negative thought we have about ourselves there is an equally valid positive one? Instead of calling yourself a loser, ask yourself what you lost? What you failed at? After all, failing at something does not mean you fail at everything. Stop looking down on yourself and next time you call yourself something bad, ask yourself why you did that and then call yourself something good. Just like the examples below:

I'm a Loser I can't win every time.
I'm pathetic I still have strengths.
I'm stupid Doing stupid things doesn't make me a stupid person.
I'm unimportant I have importance.
I'm useless I can do useful things.
I'm crazy If I do crazy things, it does not make me crazy.
I'm horrible I can be accepted.
I'm flawed I have good traits and bad traits. I am human.
I'm unlovable I am loved. People can love me.
I'm bad I am not perfect. Everyone has a good side and a bad one.
I'm nothing I am important to someone.

The key technique of losing your negative labels is to resist using them. By identifying what negative labels you give yourself and coming up with self-accepting alternatives as in the example below, you can catch yourself in the act and refuse to call yourself offensive names.

General areas that you commonly rate yourself: My career and job success
My social competence
What negative label do you give yourself? I'm a failure
I'm inadequate
I'm useless
Try to pin down why these negative labels are bad for you: Giving myself these labels makes me feel insecure about myself. I give up trying to reach job goals since it's useless. I get even more insecure in social situations since I've told myself beforehand that I'm a failure when it comes to social events.
What alternative self-accepting attitudes would be better for you? I'm a human being and like everyone else I'm capable of both success and failure. Just because I make mistakes at work or in social situations doesn't make me a failure, inadequate or useless. I do have friends and colleagues that like me; this must mean something....

Notice, just writing down a more positive way of looking at yourself doesn't make you automatically believe this. Therefore, it's important that you truly reinforce your belief in them by actively saying your positive self-acceptance alternatives to yourself. Besides this, the more proof that supports your new self-accepting attitude, the more you'll reinforce it as true. For that reason you are going to come up with specific proofs that support your new self-accepting attitude as in the example below:

Describe a negative situation that triggered you into calling yourself offensive names. During an interview for a new job position I stumbled over my words and couldn't answer every question they asked me in a satisfactory way.
What negative label did you give yourself in that situation? I'm a failure; I'm pathetic.
What alternative self-accepting attitudes would be better for you? I'm just a human being and that means that I'm capable of both success and failure. Just because I didn't do a "perfect" interview, that doesn't mean that I'm a failure. I still have great capabilities that hopefully shone through.
What evidence can you find that supports your self-accepting attitude? The people interviewing me smiled and asked me a lot of questions. We had a good conversation. They did seem interested in wanting to know more about me and my previous jobs.


  • We looked at how self-labeling is bad for us and how it drains our self-esteem. We found out some "better" alternatives and ways to beat it.

  • You learned that what's important is to stop judging and start accepting! Self acceptance is not easy, and it's not a free pass to do what you want, but it is a way to admit that we can be fallible and that everyone has their own personal value. This is the thing that matters most.
Let us know what you think!


Join the conversation! Click on the stars from above.

Ted (March 19, 2023)

Rating: [5 out of 5 stars!]

"Thanks this was a big help."

Do No Harm (May 25, 2016)

Rating: [5 out of 5 stars!]

"Another way to stop looking down on yourself is to make a distinction between you and the resources you use to exist on this planet. For example, if your behavior has a positive impact, you may call you "good" or you may simply say "this behavior is good." The second option rates the behavior. It does not rate you.

Of course, there are consequences to good and bad behavior. You want to experience well being, so you want to do those things which are likely to create it and avoid doing those things that are likely to not create it. Deciding not to equate you with your resources does not mean that you don't need to care about the quality of your resources. It just means that you choose not to confuse the two and, ultimately, whether your resources are good or bad, you decide to be kind to you because doing so is the best way to experience well being and to create the resources you need to create your well being.

It's your choice whether you want to experiment with this approach and see how it feels."

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