6 Unhelpful things we say to ourselves


Have you ever found yourself repeating little phrases to yourself? And noticed how negative these can be sometimes? Below you will find some of the unhelpful thoughts I’ve personally explored over the years and ways I have flipped them to find a sense of internal peace.  

Amy Doyle

Amy Doyle

Holistic Counsellor

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6 Unhelpful things we say to ourselves


Let’s work our way through some of these common thoughts and beliefs that can bring tension, restriction and unease into our lives. You are not alone in these thoughts, so let’s bust through them together!

"I can't complain"

Yes you can! Where did we get this idea that “I can’t complain” is a satisfactory response?⁠ We all complain. It’s okay to complain. Our complaints are trying to show us something. ⁠

So instead of shovelling your complaints into a deep, dark hole. Get them out of your head and onto paper so you can explore them one by one. ⁠By shining a light on these, you can really start to unravel who you are and the beliefs that you have been conditioned to hold onto and live by.⁠

What complaints in your life are keeping you stuck or playing small? ⁠

"I am happy"

Ever tried the old chestnut of saying positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror?⁠ 

I remember desperately holding onto this one… something I was striving for actually. Until one day a mentor said “You’re aiming too high. ⁠Start where you’re at and see what happens.” It wasn’t in those particular words – they were delivered more in a sense of “Your body is showing a collapse and a tendency to depression.”⁠ I was gutted.

All those years I thought I had hidden my real thoughts and feelings behind a smile and pleasant facade. ⁠I cried in the car for an hour. My darkest secret was showing on my body. I had no tools or support to deal with it because I was so ashamed to say something. ⁠I had a great life, all the things that are supposed to make you happy. But I didn’t feel it.

Over the years, I learnt if you are striving for happiness… or trying to tell yourself you’re happy when you’re not… it’s not worth it. ⁠In fact, I urge you to stop looking at happiness as an end goal and instead just as the emotion that it is.

When I slowed down and allowed myself to experience the full breadth of emotions that I had held onto, I realised I wasn’t looking for happiness… ⁠I was looking for inner peace, deep rest and a life that I loved. These things aren’t stagnant. The more I learnt to lean into the full spectrum of life, the more I experienced what I was looking for. 

"I shouldn't feel this way"

Says who? ⁠Sometimes we get these ideas from our past that we shouldn’t feel the way we feel, so we try to avoid them… but in doing so, what we resist persists. And all of a sudden instead of feeling a moment of sadness, anger, hurt, misery, etc we gather and store more of it… in our bodies. ⁠

It simmers and expresses itself inside of us instead of expressing itself through us because we try to contain it…⁠ Feelings are not meant to be held onto. They are just energies in motion (e-motion). 

What emotions do you try to contain?⁠

"I don't want to be angry"

What makes you so afraid of your anger? When we give room for our anger, we are able to find what lies beneath it. When we resist it, we pull it closer and it simmers under the surface or becomes explosive from minute triggers. ⁠Being okay with feeling angry was a pivotal point in healing my own story and understanding myself better. ⁠

What stories, beliefs, childhood conditions hold you back from feeling your anger? ⁠What do you need in order to feel your anger? Is it time? Space? Support? Permission or wisdom from your adult self to your younger self? ⁠

"I am so tired"

Are you tired or is it just your thinking that is tired? What is it that you really need?⁠ 

  • Time to play? ⁠
  • Time to connect with people/nature?⁠
  • Time to get physically active and get those “feel good” chemicals going?⁠
  • Time inwards to connect with yourself and relieve your nervous system?⁠
  • Time to wind down and not have any set agenda or outcome so you can rest and relax?⁠

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our focus elements of life that we forget we have other needs too. ⁠Do you have a habit of cramming your schedule and forgetting to schedule in these vital healthy mind elements?⁠

"I should be grateful"

This is a phrase I often hear. It usually comes when we have our basic needs met (or we can see we have more than others) but we still don’t feel happy or content with our lives. 

The feeling that comes with this statement gets pushed to the side… like our other needs (such as love, belonging, recognition, personal growth) don’t matter. We pull up our “big girl pants” and keep pushing forward with a state of tension in our bodies – eg your neck tightens, your jaw clenches.

When we push for a gratitude, we create tension in our body and mind rather than a sense of openness, joy and love in our hearts. There really is no point in stating gratitude that doesn’t feel true for us.

What if we took the pressure off and changed the phrase to “I am grateful for…” and start small… I am grateful for the warm bed that keeps me from catching a cold, for my eyes that can see the beautiful blue sky, for a safe neighbourhood where I can keep my windows open.

What if we take it as a life-learning module and take the statement to inquiry… “What should I be grateful about?”… “What stops me from being grateful about it?”… eg. I should be grateful for the roof over my head but I’m not because I feel so miserable that I spend every spare moment in my house thinking about it. So let’s dive into this feeling of misery and what is causing it. And that’s where we can find peace and authentic gratitude.

Do you get caught up with things that you “should” be grateful for?

What other words or phrases do you say to yourself?

What are some of the limiting words or phrases you catch yourself saying? Let me know and we can bust them together. In the meantime, you might like to check out “6 More unhelpful things we say to ourselves“. 

Love learning about Unhelpful things we say to ourselves but want to know more?

Did you love this article and now you want to know more? Amy has a list of great articles Here on mental health topics and general self care, With her wealth of experience she can provide you with the insight and knowledge you need to make positive changes in your life. If you would love to get in contact with her you can get in touch here, But if you would to learn more bout Amy you can check out what she does Here.

Amy Doyle

Holistic Counsellor

Amy helps her clients move from this idea that they are broken or missing pieces of their own puzzle, to owning their story, claiming back all parts of themselves and merging together as one team to allow them to rest and be in their deepest expression.

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