How to stop self defeating thoughts & unhelpful beliefs?

Do you ever have the feeling that there is a voice within your head telling you that you aren’t strong enough, intelligent enough, or good enough? Do you frequently engage in unhelpful beliefs and feel inferior to others and compare yourself? If so, you are not by yourself. Everyone has a propensity to tell ourselves stories about who they are and what they are capable of. But occasionally those tales can be twisted, setting us on a path of self-doubt and limiting beliefs.

We’ll discuss the idea of harmful beliefs in this post, or the self-defeating lies that prevent us from realizing our greatest potential. We’ll look at ways to spot and get rid of these negative thought patterns. Continue reading if you’re prepared to question the tales you’ve been telling yourself. It’s time to stop believing the lies we tell ourselves and start living up to our full potential.


  • Unhelpful thoughts or ideas that we have about ourselves, other people, or the world are self-defeating and restrictive. 
  • These ideas can be imprinted profoundly and frequently give rise to feelings of anxiety, dread, or self-doubt.
  • An individual’s total life can be significantly impacted by unhelpful beliefs, which can change their emotions, habits, relationships, and success. 
  • Negative beliefs can be altered, that much is true. Although it might take some time and work, challenging and replacing unhelpful ideas with helpful, more positive ones can result in considerable personal improvement and a more fulfilling existence. 


What are unhelpful beliefs?

Unhelpful thoughts or ideas that we have about ourselves, other people, or the world are self-defeating and restrictive. These ideas can be imprinted profoundly and frequently give rise to feelings of anxiety, dread, or self-doubt. It can eventually prevent us from accomplishing our objectives and leading fulfilling lives.

Here are some instances of prevalent false beliefs:

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking:

This is the conviction that either something is flawless or a total failure. This kind of thinking makes it difficult for them to accept anything less than perfection, and they may be afraid to try new things for fear of failing. For instance, a person can believe that they are a total failure if they do not receive an A on their test.

2. Catastrophizing:

It is the tendency to anticipate the worst-case scenario. These people frequently worry excessively about the future and may find it difficult to be in the moment. For instance, a person can believe that they would become homeless if they lose their job and are unable to find another one.

3. Fixed mindset:

The notion that our skills and talents are fixed and cannot be enhanced is known as a fixed mindset. This kind of thinking makes people afraid to do new things or face challenges for fear of failing. For instance, a person can believe, “There is no use in attempting to get better at arithmetic since I am not good at it.”

4. Imposter syndrome:

Imposter syndrome is the idea that one’s accomplishments are not the result of one’s own skills and abilities, but rather of chance or other outside influences. This way of thinking can cause self-doubt and a sense of unfitness in some circumstances. For instance, a person can believe, “Just because the recruiting manager was feeling kind that day did I get the job. I definitely don’t deserve it.”

5. Oversimplifying:

This is the idea that one bad experience or occurrence entails that everything is awful. Individuals with this outlook could find it difficult to see the bright side of things and may find it difficult to recover from failures. For instance, a person can believe that their entire career is a failure because they didn’t receive the job.

Why do we need to challenge such beliefs?

It’s crucial to dispel problematic beliefs for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • We can be prevented from attaining our objectives and leading satisfying lives by unhelpful beliefs. For instance, if we feel unworthy or incapable of achievement, we could not make the necessary efforts to reach our objectives.
  • Negative emotions like self-doubt, worry, and sadness can be brought on by unhelpful ideas. We’re prone to feel depressed and disheartened if we tell ourselves over and over again that we’re not good enough or that we’re a failure.
  • Beliefs that are harmful can affect how we interact with others. Negative self- or other-talk can make it difficult to build genuine relationships and can even make us push people away.
  • Unhelpful beliefs might narrow our focus and keep us from recognising fresh chances. In a negative frame of mind, it may be difficult for us to see the opportunity for development and transformation.

An increase in self-awareness and personal progress can result from challenging problematic beliefs. We can cultivate a more positive mindset and a better sense of self by identifying and fighting our negative thoughts and cognitive distortions

Read Blog: Overcoming Negative Thoughts: Proven Strategies to Decrease Their Power

Read Blog: 20 Cognitive Distortions and How They Affect Your Life

For instance, if a person holds the unhelpful attitude that they lack the skills necessary to thrive in their career, they may feel disheartened and refrain from accepting opportunities. They might be able to identify their strengths and take action to acquire new abilities or explore new opportunities by challenging this belief. This may result in more self-assurance and a more rewarding job path.

1. Is it possible to change negative beliefs?

Negative beliefs can be altered, that much is true. Although it might take some time and work, challenging and replacing unhelpful ideas with helpful, more positive ones can result in considerable personal improvement and a more fulfilling existence.

The first step is to recognize the limiting ideas that are preventing you from moving forward. This may entail paying attention to your self-talk and recognizing when you’re thinking critically of or negatively about yourself. Once you’ve recognized your negative ideas, it’s critical to confront them by considering whether they are actually true and whether there is any supporting data. Finally, it’s time to swap out the unhelpful beliefs for more constructive ones, and continually reaffirm them through affirmations, visualization, or looking for proof to back up the new beliefs.

The next step is to swap out the negative beliefs for more constructive ones and to regularly reinforce the new ones by repeating affirmations, visualizing the desired outcome, or looking for proof that the new ideas are true. Though it requires patience and perseverance, changing one’s beliefs is achievable and can boost one’s self-esteem, improve interpersonal connections, and promote achievement in all spheres of life. Additionally, one can take help of certain psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to challenge such thoughts.

Read Blog: What is CBT- An Introduction to a Revolutionary Therapy with A Case Example

2. Why is it so hard to change your beliefs?

For a number of reasons, changing one’s beliefs might be difficult.

  • First, beliefs are frequently established profoundly and may have been repeated over a long period of time. For instance, if a person believes they lack the skills necessary to thrive in their field, they may have been telling themselves this for a long time and may have heard feedback to support this belief from others.
  • Second, our beliefs may feel important to who we are and be linked to our sense of self. The act of confronting these ideas may make us feel as though we are questioning who we are, which can be unsettling and anxiety-inducing.
  • Lastly, our surroundings and societal standards can serve to reinforce our ideas. It might be difficult to question and change our own opinions if everyone around us hold similar beliefs or if our culture supports particular beliefs.
  • Finally, altering one’s views can be uncomfortable and involves effort. It could entail dealing with challenging emotions, challenging ingrained beliefs, and going outside our comfort zone.

Despite these difficulties, it is possible to alter one’s ideas, which can result in substantial personal development and a more contented existence. Although it could call for perseverance, introspection, and seeking out help from others, the process can be rewarding and transforming.

3. What is the impact of such beliefs on an individual’s over all life?

An individual’s total life can be significantly impacted by unhelpful beliefs, which can change their emotions, habits, relationships, and success. Unhelpful views can have the following effects on a person:

  • Self-doubt, worry, and sadness are just a few examples of the negative self-talk and emotions that can result from unhelpful ideas. For instance, if a person feels inadequate, they may constantly criticise themselves and experience anxiety or depression.
  • Unhelpful ideas can restrict a person’s perception of their own potential, which can result in self-destructive behaviours and missed chances. For instance, if someone thinks they’re bad at public speaking, they can avoid speaking engagements and lose out on chances to further their careers.
  • Unhelpful views can affect a person’s relationships as they may find it difficult to build relationships or trust others. For instance, if a person feels unworthy of love, they could find it difficult to build wholesome connections.
  • Ultimately, unhelpful attitudes might hinder a person’s ability to succeed and experience overall life pleasure. For instance, if someone thinks they won’t succeed, they can give up on their ambitions and miss out on the sense of fulfilment that comes with achievement.

Read Blog: 9 Tips to Break the Cycle of Self-criticism and Turn it into Your Biggest Strength + Case Studies and Free Worksheet

3 tips for challenging and improving unhelpful beliefs

1. Determine and Address Helpless Beliefs

Identification is the first step in confronting and altering problematic beliefs. Paying attention to your negative self-talk and keeping an eye out for self-defeating beliefs might be helpful. Once you’ve located the harmful notion, it’s critical to disprove it by considering its veracity and the available facts.

Suitable actions:
  • Write down the negative self-talk you use to identify the false belief, or take note of the mental pattern that holds you back.
  • Ask yourself if the belief is actually true, and then hunt for evidence to support or refute it. For instance, if you believe that “I’m not good enough,” you can consider what data supports and opposes this idea.

For example, Sarah, a writer who experiences imposter syndrome. She constantly convinces herself she’s not a “genuine” writer and that she won’t be successful. She documents her negative self-talk and questions its veracity in order to disprove this idea. Sarah acknowledges that she had previously achieved success as a writer and that there is proof of her talent. Sarah’s belief is challenged, causing her to change her perspective and start seeing herself as a capable writer.


By recognizing and dispelling problematic ideas, people can develop a more realistic and positive view of who they are, which can boost their confidence and self-esteem.

2. Replace unhelpful beliefs with good, useful beliefs.

It’s crucial to swap out problematic beliefs with more constructive ones when you’ve noticed and contested them. This entails developing a new, supported by facts belief that serves your objectives.

Suitable actions:
  • Choose the new belief: Consider which belief would be more beneficial and supportive of your objectives.
  • Obtain supporting evidence for the new belief: Search for instances in your life or in the lives of others that support your new idea.
  • Affirmations or imagery might help you reaffirm the new belief in your mind.

For example, John is a salesman who experiences difficulty dealing with rejection. He constantly tells himself that he is inadequate and that being rejected makes him a failure. He develops a new idea to replace this one, one that rejection is a typical aspect of the sales process and does not determine one’s value as a person. Reading about successful salespeople who faced rejection and yet achieved success gives him proof for this idea. John uses visualization and affirmations to reinforce his new belief.


By swapping out negative beliefs for constructive ones, people can change their perspective and concentrate on their abilities, which can boost resilience and produce greater results.

3. Use self-compassion.

Ultimately, when correcting and enhancing problematic ideas, it’s crucial to exercise self-compassion. Instead of self-criticism and judgement, self-compassion means treating oneself with care and understanding.

Suitable actions:
  • Recognize when you are being critical of yourself and the detrimental effects it is having on you.
  • Treat yourself with the same love and kindness that you would extend to a friend. For instance, encourage and support oneself instead than blaming yourself for making a mistake.
  • Keep in mind basic humanity: Understand that you’re not alone in your troubles and that everyone fights with bad thoughts and feelings.

For example, by recognizing her imposter syndrome and encouraging herself, Sarah is engaging in self-compassion. She tells herself that many successful authors experience imposter syndrome and that it’s a normal emotion rather than berating herself for feeling like a fraud.


Sarah started loving herself and being kind towards herself.

Read Blog: How to develop self-compassion


Unhelpful thoughts can significantly affect our lives and frequently prevent us from achieving our greatest potential. We may, however, overcome the lies we tell ourselves and develop a more upbeat and empowering mindset by refuting and enhancing these ideas. We can alter our thought patterns and enhance our general wellbeing by recognising and questioning harmful beliefs, replacing them with helpful ones, and engaging in self-compassion.

The benefits of challenging and improving problematic beliefs can be tremendous, resulting in enhanced confidence, resilience, and success in all facets of our lives, although doing so may need time and work. So let’s begin releasing the lies we tell ourselves and adopt a happier and more empowering mindset.

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