Whether it’s your parents constant comparing you to other kids, the harsh words your girlfriend said in the midst of an argument, or the nasty labels a bully gave you at school, other people’s words leave an imprint on you.

While many of us learn to ignore others’ opinions of us, people with low self-esteem struggle to shake them off. Often, they become so consumed by what others have to say that they let themselves be defined by it.

What people don’t realize is that there are multiple reasons behind why a person would say such harsh things—and most of them aren’t even related to us!

Bullies and other people who lack emotional intelligence tend to use other people’s insecurities to hurt them. But many of these people have their own demons, which leads to them putting others down because it gives them a sense of control.

As for the victims, they’re left to pick up the pieces of their demolished self-esteem. Unless you’re emotionally stable and have a strong sense of self, you’re likely to take other people’s words to heart; you may even be emotionally stunted because of them.

Here’s why you shouldn’t let others define you:

1.    It’s Not About You

The mean things someone says to you say more about who they are than being reflective of you. People who put others down are usually struggling with emotional issues themselves. Everyone processes negative feelings differently; some internalize their emotions, while others lash out.

If you feel like someone’s mean words are filling up your head, counter them with positive thoughts about yourself. These could be nice things you know about yourself or even compliments you’ve been given.

2.    The Way Your React Can Make it Worse


When someone says something mean to us, we need to process what was said and our reaction to it.

Emotionally mature individuals think things over several times before they react. During this time, they view the situation from different perspectives and think about the consequences of their reactions.

If they’re hurt or angry, they will accept it, and respond accordingly after giving it serious thought.

It helps to write down the whirlwind of emotions you’re feeling to distinguish between what was actually said and what you may be exaggerating in your head.

3.    You Become Prone to Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage is real. That’s why you need to remind yourself that you have control over your mind; by letting other people’s words get to you, you’re giving it up. By letting others control you through their words, you’re giving up your agency.

Being in a state of helplessness gives others the opportunity to walk over you, so make an effort to reverse the damage to your self-esteem. Practice self-love and talk yourself up when needed.

If you struggle with these issues, you stand to benefit from working with a psychodynamic therapist. They’ll help you overcome emotional issues that are holding you back.

David Myers is a psychologist and anxiety therapist who’s based in Birmingham, Alabama. He also serves people in nearby communities, including Gardendale, Hoover and Mountain Brook.

Call his office at (205) 251-8808 to book an appointment.

Leave a reply