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  • NEW Reentry Staff

How to overcome the ‘I'm a bad person’ black hole of thinking

Outward expressions of ourselves could make a significant difference in our self-identity. We can be our worst critics or biggest cheerleaders, based on life circumstances.

Self-identifying as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ is a social construct designed to categorize groups of people. It creates an idealized view of how we interact with others and how we feel about ourselves. Licensed psychologist Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps sums it up this way: “However, falsely labeling yourself as guilty or mean is unnecessary self-punishment if you are suffering from such a punishment, it is time to set yourself free.”

Crystal Raypole, author of a Healthline article wrote, “Keep in mind that asking yourself, ‘Am I a bad person?’ isn’t unusual. Simply considering this question shows you have some measure of self-awareness and empathy.” People frequently consider this question when faced with intense decisions or when experiencing life-changing events. This feeling can lead you to analyze your behaviors, emotions, and environment for self-improvement. The difference between saying ‘I’m a bad person’ is what you speak over yourself versus asking the question to inflict self-discovery.

The media paints an idolized view of how we should behave, think, and feel. This view can lead you to see yourself through the eyes of what others think is best. Constantly thinking ‘I’m a bad person’ can start to become a part of your daily life.

Thinking you’re a bad person can come from your life choices, relationships, finances, and background. For example, a mother struggling to provide for her child who is unable to buy her son a new pair of shoes for school may think ‘I’m a bad person.’ Your friend asks to hang out, but you have no energy to be social, and canceling makes you feel like a bad person. This type of behavior leads to the narrative of thinking ‘I’m a bad person’ when that isn’t necessarily the case.

Here are some ways to overcome the 'I'm a bad person' black hole:

  • Living in the present can help to avoid thoughts of ‘I’m a bad person.’

  • Changing your perspective may allow you to better focus on the present.

  • Try to refrain from saying negative things about yourself. Instead, seek positive affirmations.

  • Apologizing to yourself for making a regretful decision can be a good tool for moving forward.

It is your responsibility to take good care of yourself, including being the best version of who you are.

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