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Firstly, Self-talk is the way we talk to ourselves. You might have noticed that you think in stories and narratives. During the day, you run through scenarios and have conversations with others in your head. This is because we are social animals. Even alone we behave in social ways; think Tom Hanks in Castaway. Similarly, you will also have noticed that you often talk to yourself. What you say to yourself and how you say it is as important as what you say to others. Unfortunately, negative self-talk and hidradenitis suppurativa often go together.
So in this post, we are going to talk about two negative thought patterns, “personalising” and “shoulding”. In addition, we are  going to talk about ways to fight back against them.


Personalising is a thought pattern where something goes wrong, so you blame yourself. You think it’s certainly something you have done or that you must be wrong in some way.
Negative self-talk is emotional. If you are beating yourself up, for example, because of a bad date, you may be feeling rejected, sad, and lonely. And when you act on feelings, you don’t always think logically.

We are very good at tricking ourselves

What you are telling yourself won’t be true because your inner mean girl is a pretty little liar.
Therefore trying not to think about something won’t work. As soon as you decide to repress a thought, it’s all you will think about. For a minute take a breath and ask yourself what you are feeling. After that, ask yourself, do you know that or do feel that. If you are going to talk to yourself, you might as well be on your side.

Emotions vs Logic

If your thought is more emotion than logical, come away from it. Find a distraction and come back to it when you feel less overwhelmed.
Feelings are temporary and if we acknowledge and challenge them, they can’t hurt us. And the more you practice, the better you will get at controlling them. Here is a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t talk to a friend that way, you shouldn’t talk to yourself that way.


While we are talking about friends, confide in a friend. Spending time alone is healthy however, spending too much time alone can cause us to overthink. Sometimes we must get out of our heads
Everyone has people who think the world of them. So if you feel down on yourself talk to someone about it. You don’t see yourself, but your friends do. Not only that, when you tell someone about your insecurities, you find they often have the same feelings about themselves. Therefore you are not alone.


“Shoulding” is a term coined by the psychologist, Albert Ellis. It is a thought pattern where a person beats themselves up about things they think they should be doing. Think of it like a really judgemental FOMO (fear of missing out). It comes from comparing yourself to others. It is the thought that if we do this thing, we would be better or happier. Moreover, it leads to feelings of guilt, shame and anger, and these are usually directed at ourselves.
For some people it might look like, I “should” go out more or I “should “lose weight. The problem is even if that were true, you are not likely to change anything. You will certainly feel worse about yourself.

Why are you shoulding?

Rather than thinking about what you should do, think about what you want to do. Everyone has things they have to do but would rather not. Shoulding is different. If you are doing something because you think you should, firstly consider what you get out of it.
If it fulfils your needs or responsibilities, then do it. However, if you think people will like you more or you will be happier, even if it makes you miserable, stop. Think, what would you rather be doing?

To should or not to should…

I used to think I should go out on more nights out, because I’m young, and isn’t that what young people do? When I started college, I met lots of people that preferred reading a book or crafting at home. When I felt like I belonged, I didn’t feel the need to should on myself about things I didn’t want to do.
Sometimes the “I should” comes from our environment and the people we talk to regularly. If you find this to be the case, meet new people and expand your social group.

Why you shouldn’t should

We live in a culture that values productivity over all else. It’s considered normal to change ourselves to meet expectations that are never consistent. If we fail, we are deemed lazy and undisciplined, so we internalise that attitude and it becomes our self-talk.
Negative self -talk is always destructive. It is associated with depression and anxiety and it can’t motivate you to live your best life. It is the result of what we assume others think about us. There’s no way to win that game.
The truth is everyone else is too busy worrying about their insecurities.
Imagine if we were a little kinder to ourselves, how much kinder we could be to others.

About the Author

Shannon hidradenitis suppurativa patient

Shannon Sweeney is a psychology and sociology student from Ireland. She is also living with HS and has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing, and Hidradenitis Suppurativa.

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