We all may have experienced some sort of stigma at some point in our lives. Had an experience where someone formed an unfair or untrue opinion of us based on a negative assumption about how we looked or acted. While most of us assume stigma comes only from outside forces, what most of us don’t realize is we are also capable of doing it to ourselves.

Self-stigma occurs when we perpetuate a negative view of ourselves through harsh self judgement and enforcement of attitudes and beliefs that are detrimental to our mental health. According to the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI): “The emotional impact of self-stigma … batters our self-esteem, self-efficacy and outlook on life. The shame and embarrassment self-stigma ingrains in us can make us reluctant to talk about our condition. This can limit understanding and awareness, allowing our self-stigma to grow even stronger.”

Sure, we all get down on ourselves sometimes, that’s natural. It’s when it becomes a pervasive habit, when the regular course of our thinking leans into believing the worst about ourselves without considering what’s best about ourselves that it becomes an issue. This kind of thinking has the tendency to build quickly, spinning down into depths of feelings of failure and worthlessness. Our imagination can run away with us leading to rumination on negative scenarios of what we believe occurred and how it somehow was all our fault. If left unrecognized and unchecked it can create a pool of self-deprecating sludge so viscous that it can keep us stuck in a negative self-talk cycle.

And that’s no good. Thinking bad thoughts about yourself can manifest self-stigma so quietly that you could be doing it right now. The first step to putting the brakes on this detrimental practice is to know the signs:

  • Negative self-talk and self-criticism using derogatory language
  • Low self-esteem exacerbated by feelings of shame and guilt
  • Isolation compelled by feelings of being unlovable or unworthy
  • Hopelessness resulting from self-reinforcement of negative beliefs
  • Reluctance to ask for help due to embarrassment or fear

If any of these sound familiar that’s OK. There are steps you can take to change that mindset of self-deprivation and get you started on the road to wellness.

1.  Be Aware of Negative Thoughts. When they occur rather than running away with them acknowledge them. Accept them, dismiss them and fill that negative space with something positive. This will help you to begin a practice of self-empowerment which will result in building your self-esteem.

2.  Take It Easy On Yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend. Be kind to yourself, tell yourself nice things. Remind yourself that mistakes are a part of life and forgive yourself when you make them. Reduce comparing yourself to others and allow yourself to be yourself.

3.  Pat Yourself On The Back. Acknowledge that you are capable of doing good for yourself and others. Make a visual reminder by creating a list of all you have accomplished, starting with one thing and adding to it as more good things pop into your head. Give yourself credit where credit is due.

4.  Engage in Self Care. Of all kinds: journal, meditate, get some exercise, eat better. Take the small steps toward accepting that you are worthy of love and respect by loving and respecting yourself. It’s the little things that will help to bring you up out of feeling so down.

5.  Get Some Help. Even though it may be scary it really is OK to reach out. Working with a coach or therapist who is trained in CBT, or talk therapy, can help you see how negative thoughts affect your feelings and actions and you’ll learn techniques to help work through and reframe them.

It’s a journey of learning to think of yourself in a way that’s empowering, to accept yourself as a whole and worthy person. Recognizing and surmounting self-stigma requires patience and persistence and it’s worth it. You can stop listening to what you call yourself in your head and pursue the joyous life you deserve.

Your self-stigmatization no longer needs to be your secret shame. Working with one of our CBT Trained Mental Health Coaches can help you work your way through the process of recognizing and changing your negative beliefs into powerful positive thoughts. For information on how you can work with a member of our Mental Health Coach team you can have a have a confidential conversation with Cindy via phone at 631-921-4085 or reach her directly via email here.

Always speak with a medical professional if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis. For free and confidential support 24/7 via call, text or chat contact The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.

Whatever stage of mental health recovery you are in, whatever level of support you need, a member of The Recovery Coach NY team can guide you through assessing your strengths and developing goals for next steps.

The Recovery Coach NY honors all paths of recovery with years of experience and a vast array of resources that can support those in need find the way to the life of joy and purpose they deserve. We come with an empathetic ear and solution-oriented actions that can begin to bring the relief you and your loved one seek.

We provide Recovery Coaching, Mental Health Support & Coaching, Sobriety & Mental Health Companionship, Executive Function & Accountability Coaching, Academic Coaching & Scholastic Support, Safe Transport, Case Management, Psychedelic Integration Coaching, Intervention and Emergency Services. For more information and additional services, go to our website.