emotional wellness636234867591839267Emotions2636234867983553743  
    Knowing What You Feel
    Handling Negative Thoughts
    Building Self-Esteem
    Managing Stress
    Calming Tools

Handling Negative Thoughts  

Recognizing Automatic Negative Thoughts

Adapted from Building Self-Esteem: A Self-Help Guide, a federal SAMHSA publication prepared by Mary Ellen Copeland, M.S., M.A.

You may have learned to think poorly of yourself when you were very young, from family members and caregivers, at school, from the media, and from prejudice and stigma in our society.

Once you have absorbed negative messages, it’s easy to repeat them over and over to yourself, especially when you’re having a hard time.

Some examples of common negative messages that people repeat over and over to themselves include:

"I am a jerk," "I am a loser," "I never do anything right," "No one would ever like me," I am a klutz."

Most people believe these messages, no matter how untrue or unreal they are. They come up immediately in the right circumstance, for instance if you get a wrong answer you think "I am so stupid." They may include words like should, ought, or must. The messages tend to imagine the worst in everything, especially you, and they are hard to turn off or unlearn.

You may think these thoughts or give yourself these negative messages so often that you are hardly aware of them. Pay attention to them. Carry a small pad with you as you go about your daily routine for several days and jot down negative thoughts about yourself whenever you notice them. It helps to take a closer look at your negative thought patterns to check out whether or not they are true.

Thinking Through Thoughts and Feelings

  • Is it a Thought or a Feeling?
    Do you know the difference between a thought and a feeling? Take this quiz and find out. If you find you are confusing thoughts with feelings, you may want to learn more about negative messages and unhelpful thinking styles.
  • Unhelpful Thinking Styles
    One way to debunk automatic negative thoughts is to debunk the logical flaws in our thinking patterns, sometimes called “cognitive distortions.” Do you recognize any of these 12 common thinking patterns that may be causing your stress?
  • Before I Blame Myself and Feel Guilty
    Use this worksheet to help you sort through what’s really going on when you feel bad about yourself. Share it with your therapist or another trust adult.
  • Mood Meter
    Rate your mood using the Mood Meter on the Teens Finding Hope website and find out what you can do to feel better.

Need Help Now?


California Youth Crisis Line: 1-800-843-5200
Connecting youth to trained counselors and local services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Your Life Your Voice1-800-448-3000

Crisis Text Line: send text to 741 741 


Quick Links


Foster Youth Wellness Home
Physical Wellness 
Emotional Wellness
Intellectual Wellness
Spiritual Wellness
Social Wellness
Environmental Wellness
Occupational Wellness
Financial Wellness

Printable Documents


Know Your Rights!

If you have questions about your rights or need help with other issues while you are in foster care, contact the Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson.

Foster Care Ombudsperson
1-877-846-1602 (toll-free helpline)

General Site Disclaimers 

The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The views expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the CDSS. The CDSS does not endorse, support or advocate in any way the viewpoints or information contained in this website.

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the CDSS of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. Unless otherwise specified, the CDSS does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations.