Things are going along OK at work, you're doing what needs to be done, you think everything is hunky-dory, and then your supervisor says: "Haven't you finished that project yet? You should have started on the next one by now," and you're instantly plunged into a horrible upset. You're so distressed by her comment, you don't even think to say "I was asked to take over another part of the project, that's why it's taking longer." Instead you go straight to "I'm inept, I'm incompetent, I'm going to be fired," and it's all you can do not to burst into tears right there in front of her. You feel so bad that by the next day, you're frightfully depressed, can't get yourself out of bed, and have to call in sick.

Fast forward a couple of've been dating a guy for a month or so, you really like him, and you think he really likes you. But then he doesn't call when he said he would, and you go into frantic mode. What did you do wrong now? Did you say something he didn't like? Did you do something awful you don't even know what it was? You rack your brains trying to figure it out. You leave him cutesy messages, apologetic messages, guilt-ridden messages (sure you're doing the wrong thing all along), and when he finally does call, it's to tell you he doesn't think you have all that much in common, you're a great gal, goodbye. And back you go into the land of the woefully depressed, beating yourself up with; "I did something terrible to turn him off. I'm a worthless human being. I'll never get a relationship."

What is wrong with you? Why is nothing you ever do good enough? Why is everybody picking on you?

They're not. You are. You are picking on yourself. Instead of standing back and objectively looking at the situation, anytime anyone says something to you, you interpret it as blame, as proof that you're unworthy. Instead of seeing their comments as an expression of what is going on with them . Your supervisor has to keep the work flowing according to deadlines she must meet. She's concerned about her deadlines, and either didn't know or forgot that you were given an extra piece of work to do. Your boyfriend is seeking a relationship that meets his needs, and he's being honest about that. You're the one who is interpreting these comments as meaning you are a failure as a human being.

What's the solution? To love yourself. AGGHHH!!! you cry, tearing out your hair. How can you love yourself when you feel so awful about yourself? Besides telling you to "love yourself" is trite beyond belief.

Indeed, it may seem so. But loving yourself in this context means to switch your focus from what's wrong with you, to what's right with you. There are some things you know that are right with you, like the fact that you are a nice person, that you are considerate, that you care about other people, and so on. Spend some time everyday valuing yourself, your qualities, talents and skills. Write these down. Make yourself come up with just one new thing everyday that you can value about yourself. Over time, you'll find that you are increasingly able to see people's comments as coming from their point of view, and not meant as a direct attack on yourself. Eventually you'll be secure enough in your own value, that you'll be able to deal with life's bumps and hurdles objectively, without dumping into those miserable pits of despair.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., known as "Dr. Noelle" to her clients, is a respected psychologist, consultant and author. Her most recent books is "The Power of Appreciation: The Key to a Vibrant Life" (with co-author, Jeannine LeMare Calaba, Psy.D.; Beyond Words, 2003). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives with her "compassionate psychotherapy." Dr. Noelle welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Noelle anytime at