Overcoming Negative Labels and Self-Criticism so you stop feeling like a bad person

When You Feel Like a Bad Person

Labels are everywhere in our lives nowadays.  We have labels on our clothes, labels on our furniture, even labels on our food.  They are there to inform, instruct or identify us.  We read labels to gain understanding.  We write labels to protect ourselves.  And we wear labels as status symbols to garner acceptance and praise from others.  Labels are everywhere in our lives nowadays.

But besides the labels we are wearing and reading, there are labels we are also creating everyday.  Labels that we use to identify ourselves.  Labels that we allow circumstances or our feelings to create for us.  The labels of “not good enough”, “not rich enough”, “not pretty enough”, “worthless”, “helpless”, “stupid”, and the list goes on.  We think things like, “I’m a terrible wife” or “my children think I’m an awful mother”.  And labels quickly appear.  Suddenly, we are a terrible wife or an awful mother not because there is proof or evidence of that but because we’re wearing that label.  And we’re thinking we are that label.  And how we think leads to the way we feel.  And how we feel leads to the way we act.

I often feel like I’m not good enough.  I feel worthless, helpless.  I think things like, “I’m a terrible wife” or “My clients hate me”.   These thoughts or labels do nothing but paralyze me.  They don’t spur me on to negate that label and become the best.  Instead, they send me down into despair where all I can do is wallow in my own misery.  So what do we do when we feel like a bad person?  How do we stop labeling ourselves and start being productive?


Overcoming Negative Labels and Self-Criticism so you stop feeling like a bad person

4 Thoughts to help when you feel like a Bad Person

Labeling yourself only makes you feel inadequate and depressed

Labeling yourself as worthless or a bad person doesn’t do anything productive.  It just leaves you moping rather than coping.  You need to attack the label or statement that you have thought or told yourself.  Are you really a bad wife?  Are you really a terrible mother?  Are you really the worst person in the world?  Odds are, you’re not.  There will always be someone better than you and worse than you.  Labeling yourself as bad, the worst, or worthless doesn’t help.  So stop it.

Once you give up criticizing yourself, you can be productive

Now that you’ve given up labeling, blaming, and shaming yourself, you can move onto something more productive.  Instead of expending energy on moping and dwelling on your inner negative thoughts, you can move on to spending that energy to fix or alleviate the problem.  Start by asking yourself the right question:  What makes you feel or think like you are the worst or a bad person?  List out the circumstances, conversations, or feelings that may be making you feel this way.  Ask yourself if these things really point to you being a terrible person.


Overcoming Negative Labels and Self-Criticism so you stop feeling like a bad person


If you can define the problem, then you can move toward solving it

Let’s take the example of “I feel like a bad person”.  What is your definition of a good person?  Does anyone exist that meets this definition of a good person?  Probably not.  Probably you’ve set the bar too high for anyone, let alone yourself, to reach it.  Perhaps the problem is that you have been showing up late to work.  You know you’re not being a faithful employee, but no one has said anything to you so you get away with it.  The problem is not that you’re a bad person.  The problem is that you’re not a morning person so its difficult for you to get in at 8 am.  Now that you’ve figured out your actual problem, you can work on solving it.  Try to define the real problem that’s making you feel bad about yourself.

What are my strengths and weaknesses?  What can I do to improve?

As you work on defining your problem and moving towards fixing it, it’s good to know some things about yourself.  Identifying your strengths and weaknesses will help you realize areas that you could improve.  When you weigh your strength against your weaknesses, you’ll automatically build up some self-esteem by noting things you do well.  You’ll then see areas for potential improvement.  You can then approach your problem by saying, “Here’s where I can improve” rather than, “I’m worthless”.


Once you’ve assessed your problem and come up with some ideas or ares you can improve, set some goals to help you get there.  This will help attack that thought of “I’m a bad person” the next time it pops up because you’ll be able to say, “I’m a work in progress and that’s ok!”


What bad labels do you need to stop creating for yourself?  Tell us in the comments below and what you should be thinking instead!

Negative self-talk and inner thoughts got you feeling like a terrible person? How do you talk back to those thoughts? Read how to rationally respond to negative self-criticism -- > How to Overcome Negative Labels and Inner Self-Criticism Stop Beating Yourself Up! You are a work in progress


  • Heather Hart

    I’ve been clinging to the scripture that says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” this week. Every time one of those labels pops into my head or a negative thought or memory, I remind myself that Jesus has me covered. I don’t have to live defeated, but I can start fresh every second because His sacrifice was eternal.

  • susan

    It is so true that we automatically label ourselves and then become completely defeated by it. I loved the practical steps you’ve given to help alleviate this problem and to narrow down to find the true problem and begin working toward real solutions. Very helpful and encouraging post.

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