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Dec. 27, 2021

Why Are You Feeling Down On Yourself?

Why Are You Feeling Down On Yourself?

Feeling down can often be a result of negative thinking. Comparing ourselves to others is a toxic recipe for depression and low self-confidence. In today's show, learn tools to pull yourself out of a funk.

Being down on yourself too much can make everyday life difficult. In today's show, Frank discusses strategies to change your mindset and reduce anxiety symptoms. Learn some simple strategies on how to stop being hard on yourself.

Recommended Book- Detox Your Thoughts: Stop Negative Self Talk for Good and Discover the Life You've Always Wanted.
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective technique for silencing our mind's inner critic. Negative thinking can contribute to depression, anxiety, as well as lower self-confidence. We explore the negative consequences of social media and how it creates a distorted perception of the world. 

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Welcome to the anxiety therapist podcast, I’m your show host, Frank Sasso. I’m a clinical psychotherapist and certified fitness trainer in private practice. I work mainly focuses on people who struggle with anxiety, stress, and lack of motivation. I’d be so grateful if you could hit the follow button on what ever app you listen with, this way you’ll never miss another episode. Today’s show is sponsored by my new e-book: 5 ways to deal with anxiety. I’ve put together 5 proven strategies for naturally reducing anxiety symptoms, so that you can live a more fulfilling life. Wouldn’t that be amazing to start taking more control over your anxiety? 

The e-book is on sale for just $5.00. Yup, you heard that right, $5.00. Just go to to get it today. I’ll leave a link in the episode notes of this podcast.

In today’s show, I want to focus on helping you to stop being so down on yourself and giving yourself a break! You know, constantly beating yourself up in life is a sure-fire way to get you in a funk. That’s because we live in this world where we believe in the false illusion that we have to be perfect at everything we do. Well, I’ve got news for you friends, there’s no such thing as perfect and as soon as soon as you start realizing this you can start to break free from the self-sabotage and obstacles  in your mind. I want you to think about something for a moment. How ridiculous would it be to tell someone else that they must be perfect at everything they do?  In other words, would you tell someone else they have to be perfect when they clean their home, or when they work out at the gym or that they have to be perfect in every aspect of their personal life?  Of course you wouldn’t create those kind of expectations for someone else, so here’s the real question. If you wouldn’t dream of saying those things to someone else, then why would you think that’s okay to say to yourself?

Now just a fast disclaimer before we jump in. This podcast is not a replacement for mental health counseling or medical care, and I’m not your personal therapist.

Are You Feeling Down?

Wow, Being hard on yourself and beating yourself up is something a lot of people in this world do. . And it makes sense right? I mean if you look at social media, everyone seems to look so happy and brag about how fantastic and perfect their lives are. It seems like there’s no shortage of people posting pics of themselves on great vacations or bragging about or the promotion they got at work – or my favorite is when they post a pic of themselves with the perfect skin and body. If you didn’t know any better, you would think they ride around in limos all day and look photo shoot ready when they roll out of bed in the morning.  

Sometimes, I must look at these posts and just laugh because I know it’s nothing more than a big illusion. That’s because they don’t usually tell you that they went into heavy credit card debt to go on that vacation or that they used some app to filter their picture and air brush their face and body to the point where you wouldn’t even recognize them if you saw them in real life.

If social media wasn’t enough, being down on yourself can often be the result of how a person was raised. For example, in my own life, I was one of those people who was constantly told by my foster mother that my grades weren’t good enough or that I  grow up to be a loser and never become anything. I know that sounds harsh, but trust me – many, many people have grown up with parents who espouse those kinds of distorted beliefs. The problem is growing up in that kind of environment leads to toxic thinking, low self-esteem and most dangerous of all – negative self-talk.

Who needs that kind of dark cloud over your head?  Who needs that kind of heavy weight on their shoulders? Let’s see if we can do something about it today by helping you to stop being down on yourself and create your own positive expectations!

What Are Negative Thoughts?

You know in my private practice, one of the biggest issues my patience struggle with is negative self-talk or sometime referred to as the inner critic. And this inner critic will say the most nasty and unbelievable things to us if we give it power. When we are hard on too hard on ourselves it can lead to increased anxiety, high stress levels and different forms of depression.

When we say things to ourselves like I’m not good enough or for example, I’m a terrible cook because I made one mistake or even – no one will ever find me attractive because I don’t look like that person on Instagram – then what we are doing is placing a double standard on ourselves. We are basically setting the unrealistic expectations so high in our own life that we can never live up to it. If you are interested, I did an entire episode on how to combat negative voices. Check out episode 12 for how CBT can be used to silence distorted thoughts.

Another way we can beat ourselves up and be down on ourselves is by comparing ourselves to other people. President Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I kind of like that expression because when you constantly compare yourself to someone else you are actually robbing yourself out of the hard effort you just made. I want to give you an example of what I’m talking about.

If you listen to this show, then you know I go to CrossFit classes several times a week. A single CrossFit class can include rowing, Olympic weight lifting and gymnastic type movements. There are days where the workouts are so grueling to the point where I have to lay on the ground after class for 5 min, just to catch my breath. And while I love CrossFit, I have to tell you that there are athletes at my gym with superhuman like speed, agility and strength. I mean seriously, some of these people are amazing at what they can do with their bodies-and I’m not ashamed to tell you – I’m not one of those amazing athletes. I’m just me…sometimes clumsy, sometimes a little tired…plain old me.

Being Down On Yourself Triggers Depression

But I’ll tell you this.  I feel fulfilled just by showing up to class and giving it my best.  Anyway, at the beginning of each class, we are assigned a specific set of exercises to do. About an hour later, after we are all done we record our scores on an app which everyone in class can see.

Now, If I allowed myself to compare my abilities to everyone else’s, then I’d probably never go to CrossFit class again. More often than not I am on the very bottom of that scoreboard and I’m not ashamed of that at all. That’s because I’m proud of myself that I got out of that bed and showed up for that class.  I know that when the class is over I gave my best effort on that day. In other words I tried to be the best version of myself. Are there days when I have more energy to work out than others? Absolutely.

There are some days when my scores are pretty high and I’m proud of it. But on days  when I don’t do so hot in CrossFit class, I’ll simply say to myself, hey I’m glad I was able to do today’s workout. My score was decent today, and next time I’ll try to build upon my success. Do you see what I did there, I kept things realistic in my head. I didn’t set the standard of trying to keep up with someone who is 20 years younger than me or who has more experience at the sport.

How about you? Do you compare yourself to everyone else in your life?  Are you someone who looks at social media and thinks to yourself, “how come I’m not doing as good as that person?”

If you are, you’re not alone, but I would encourage you to pull back and realize that people only show you what they want you to see. Think about it for a min. When’s the last time you saw someone post a picture on social media that shows them not wearing makeup or bragging that they gained 10 lbs over the holidays?

Chances are, you’re not going to find many of those. My point is comparing yourself to everyone else is kind of like running up a hill that you can never reach the top. Give yourself a break and realize that you’re doing the very best you can. Can you reach deeper and give a little more effort? Absolutely, but rob yourself of enjoying your own accomplishments.

I want to give you some tips on how kind to yourself be and stop beating yourself up.  You might want to grab something to write with and jot a few of these ideas down.

This first tip comes for cognitive behavioral therapy. In 1955 Dr. Albert Ellis developed a theoretical approach called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy to help people manage thinking flaws, and emotional disturbances. Some of his approaches could be seen as quite harsh because Ellis was known for being confrontational.  

Later, in the 1960s, Dr. Arron Beck expanded on Beck’s work and developed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – which is one of the most popular forms of psychological treatment today. In a nutshell, CBT is used to challenge internal dialogue – or the negative voice we all hear from time to time.

So to give you an idea of how this work – get yourself a sheet of paper and draw a straight line down the middle of it. On the top left of the paper, write the word Automatic Thought. On the Right Side, write the word alternative thought.

Keep a journal of when you start to get down on yourself and beat yourself up. For example, I might put in the automatic thought column, “ I really messed up trying to cook this lasagna recipe, and therefore I’m a terrible cook. On the right column I would put in the response to this negative thought. Think of it as the logical response. It might say something like this: Actually, this was the first time you ever made this lasagna recipe. A lot of people make mistakes their first time making a dish. I might not be great at making lasagna, but there’s a lot of other meals I make that taste great. I just have to practice on this one a little more.

Can you see what I’m doing here friends? I’m teaching my brain to challenge those negative thoughts and rewiring it not to be so hard on myself.

Here’s another example. Automatic thought column I might write. My friend on Instagram looks like he is doing so well, and seems to have the perfect life-therefore I must be a failure because my life doesn’t look that way. In the alternative thought column I might write. Actually he only seems to post pictures of happy times in his life. This isn’t very realistic because no one’s life is really perfect. This seems like it’s all for show.

Aside from keeping a CBT journal, you can also just keep a basic thought journal. This doesn’t have to be a 5 paragraph essay that your writing. Just keep it simple and write down your emotions. Journaling is a wonderful way to bring out your thoughts and emotions. It’s also a great strategy for getting in touch with your feelings and raising your level of awareness.

Here’s another one called the Helicopter Approach.  For this scenario, let’s imagine that you’re beating yourself up because you haven’t been able to lose the amount of weight you wanted to. Now imagine, that you are hovering above in a helicopter. You can look down from the sky and see yourself. Perhaps you notice from this perspective that your making angry faces, and yelling at yourself. You might even notice that your pacing the room because you’re so upset about the situation. If it were possible, what would you say about the person (in this case yourself) who is

What Would a friend say about this situation that you’re beating yourself up about?

Finally, it can be very helpful to talk to someone when you get to a place when you start to beat yourself up. Everyone has their own preferences