Negative Self-Beliefs: Are You a ‘Beaten Dog’?

negative-self-beliefs-0227135Are you a “beaten dog”? Rest assured, I’m not calling anyone names here. But have you been kicked around, treated like nothing, and hurt? Do you not feel loved unless you are treated badly? This is what I mean when I say “beaten dog.” If you are offended, maybe some truth is staring you in the face. If you are not offended, I’m glad—and while this may not apply to you, perhaps it does apply to someone you know.

If it does apply to you and you can see how this role has affected your life, I want to apologize. No one should feel beaten, abused, and treated so poorly that he or she feels unworthy and believes life is cruel. I hope you seek help in breaking this mind-set and take hold of the reality that you ARE worthy!

Some questions you can ask yourself:

  1. When someone is nice to me, do I question it? Do I question that the niceness is sincere?
  2. When things are calm and smooth, do I need to throw a fit so that I can verify that I am loved via being yelled at?
  3. Do I want or tend to take advantage of a person’s niceness because I believe I can?
  4. Do I pick negative, hurtful people to be around?
  5. Am I envious of others who are in healthy relationships?
  6. Do I want a healthier relationship but believe I can’t have one?
  7. Do I believe that this is how things will be for the rest of my life and that nothing—not even me—can change?

To change a self-belief statement or self-perception, admitting the need to change is a must. If you change for someone else, the change may not last long. Identifying how you respond to the above questions is key. Looking at ourselves can be a difficult and painful challenge, but it is where healing begins.

A self-belief statement can be defined as how you view who you are, how your “world” is, and how things (positive or negative) happen/happened to you. When someone is brought up in a negative, abusive, and painful environment, a negative self-belief is formed. The self-belief statement can be changed, but it can be difficult and takes time.

To change a negative self-belief statement:

  1. Identify and be aware of your negative self-belief statement. As Dr. Phil says, you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
  2. Self-examine your thoughts and mind-set, and take responsibility for why your belief statement is negative.
  3. Acknowledge what you can and can’t change. Example: You can’t change what happened to you growing up, but you can change how you respond and whether the past controls you.
  4. Grieve. You lost out on a healthier childhood, the unspoken expectation that the adults in your life would be there to help you grow. Let go of the pain. Mourn. Cry.
  5. Forgive. It’s a hard thing to do. Forgiveness is for YOU, not for them. To lose the power that the past has over you, forgiveness is key. Forgive shortcomings, failures, pain, whatever. Let go. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. When you forgive, you’ll feel less weight on your shoulders and be able to move on a little easier. Forgiveness is a part of a cleansing process, allowing healing to begin.
  6. Redefine yourself—who you want to be, how you want to be, the type of people you want to be around, etc. Your personality may not totally change, but you can choose to be happier, to not let the same roadblocks stand in your way, and to have healthier relationships. You can choose to be a person who is not going to allow yourself to be kicked around anymore. Find what is good in your life; maximize those things while minimizing your weaknesses.
  7. Be at peace with yourself. Self-acceptance is a great accomplishment. No one can do this for you. When you love and accept you, other people will see that and be drawn to it. Self-acceptance allows your inner beauty to shine.

This is a process. It’s not always easy. Personal growth is not a straight journey. It has lumps, bumps, breaks, and is topsy-turvy. But if you are moving toward health, you will get there.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Remi

    Remi

    February 27th, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    Getting over past events-an ability I think.some have it easier than others. for me it s the toughest thing to do. the same things and thoughts visit me a million times and I end up with the same unwanted feelings.

    Seeing people who can let go of things and move on makes me envy them. trials have been many but I always end up at the same spot. maybe I have to work on some things mentioned here cause the past just seem s to be glued to me.

  • melody

    melody

    February 28th, 2013 at 3:52 AM

    This could be such an easy trap for someone to fall into- they are that person who does not care if they are receiving negative attentiion, as long as they are getting some attention to them it really doesn’t matter what kind it is.
    I am fortunate to have never had to live like that but I know that there are probably more people than we know who have been raised in homes like this as a child and they continue to perpetuate this as an adult because this is all they know.

  • Reuben

    Reuben

    February 28th, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Having gone through much of my life as that beaten dog, and feeling no love no matter where I look, this has inspired me to turn it around and change my life. I realize that I deserve so much better than this.

  • lanard

    lanard

    February 28th, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    1 thing to realize is that nobody can MAKE you feel terrible if you don’t let ’em.

    Just as we allow others to influence us in a good way, it is us who allow others to influence us in a bad way.

    Without our subconscious approval, nobody – and I mean nobody – can hurt or harm us and make us feel terrible.

  • JMichael

    JMichael

    March 1st, 2013 at 3:54 AM

    Well, I feel bad for those who have to live with this, but for me personally, those are the people who can be such a downer!! How are you expected to have a good time or even want to have a good time and be around someone who is perpetually so negative and down on themselves and life?

  • HEATH J

    HEATH J

    March 1st, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    I answered yes to questions 1,4,6.Sometimes it gets so tough to deal with things.I just feel like running away and saying where I don’t have to worry about relationships and about being hurt.

    It feels awful to be treated in a bad way but I end up being taken for a ride quite often.And when someone is nice to me I am doubtful if that is genuine.Been burned too much to go near any light I guess :(

    I do not know how to cope with this.I have already tried many of the things mentioned here though not exactly.And they have not given me the desired results :(

  • stressmom

    stressmom

    March 4th, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    If you fail to treat yourself with respect, don’t you think that this is how others are going to treat you too?

  • derrick

    derrick

    March 4th, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    I have been treated so badly in my younger days that even now when someone shows concern or care I ask myself twice if it is really happening or whether the person has a hidden motive. What happened in my formative years has forced me to think it that direction almost always. Accepting care and love seems so difficult to me. I do try to get rid of this feeling but it always seems to come back and bite me. Anybody else going through the same? It would be good to discuss some practical and tested solutions.

  • Linda

    Linda

    January 26th, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Even these comments are negative. Thought this site may help. Feeling like a Bic lighter a throw away. These answers made it worse. Please don’t tell me to seek counselling. Been there done that seen a psychiatrist too they only add one pill on top of another making the situation worse.

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