You too should stop being hard on yourself

Sitting by the water

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You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. Louise L. Hay

Does everyone tell you that you are too hard on yourself? I know the feeling. But it's not always easy to go easy on ourselves. In fact, it often feels much easier to be hard on ourselves.

Not being hard on ourselves is one of the most important things we can learn to do in the recovery process. When you've been bullied and abused it becomes even more important.

When you're made to feel bad about yourself, you tend to become your own worst enemy. You tend to blame yourself while finding it hard to forgive yourself. You might not even like yourself anymore. All this does is lead to you treating yourself worse than you'd ever want anyone else to treat you. Funny how that goes, isn't it?

Here's the real problem, though. You can't move on until you stop being hard on yourself.

You have to realize that what happened to you wasn't your fault. That you did the best you could at the time. You have to just let it go and forgive yourself.

Being bullied has contributed to my perfectionism, and as a result, I used to be pretty hard on myself. I've since learned to be a lot nicer to myself. It wasn't easy, though. I blamed myself for every mistake I made because I thought it was unacceptable to make mistakes. All that did was create unnecessary stress.

A little self-criticism can help keep us in line sometimes, but it can also get to the point where it is counter-productive. And that's where people usually end up. Once you start being hard on yourself it can be hard to stop.

So how can you stop being hard on yourself?

The most important thing is to become aware that you are doing it. You can't make any progress without making this realization first.

You should also not allow yourself to think in extremes or in black and white. Often when we are hard on ourselves, we only see things two ways - the way it was supposed to be and the way we messed up. We forget that there is also a lot of gray area. Like things outside of our control contributing to the outcome.

We also need to be sure to practice gratitude. When you do this you are learning to appreciate the things you have, and in doing so, you learn to appreciate yourself more.

You need to really focus on treating yourself the way you want to be treated. Show yourself the respect you would want to receive from others.

It's all about accepting who you are.

You need to give yourself a break. If no one has ever said this to you before or if you feel like you need permission, then consider this it. You don't need to wait any longer.

When you're hard on yourself all you're doing is making it easier and acceptable for others to be hard on you too. You have to lead by example. One thing I've learned over the years is that accepting yourself is the best protection against others. When you accept yourself, it's like you have an invisible shield up and no one can hurt you.

Being confident and secure in who you are makes you practically invincible from the criticisms of others. That's the key. Go easy on yourself, learn to like yourself, and don't worry about what others say.

If only it were that simple, though, right? Remember, we can be our own worst enemy. There are going to be times where you will fail at going easy on yourself. I still catch myself doing it. The important thing is to not make it worse. Don't get upset with yourself for being hard on yourself. Recognize what you are doing and stop it right then and there.

We need to learn to go from being our own worst enemy to our own best friend. We can't expect anyone to be easy on us if we are not easy on ourselves. There are always going to be people trying to put you down so don't be one of them.

Do you struggle with being hard on yourself? What is your biggest challenge in trying to overcome that? Let me know in the comments below.  
If you know someone who is a little too hard on themselves then share using the links below.
A note about comments: Given the nature of this site, anyone being disrespectful to anyone else will have their comment removed.

photo credit: red twolips via photopin cc


  1. Thanks for the post. It all makes sense but where I struggle is pushing people away in relationships from fear of getting rejected and then I can’t stop the negative cycle of how I’ve ruined something good. This all leads to beating myself up time and time again. It’s difficult to move on from fear of doing the same with someone I have feelings for and feeling emotionally isolated as a result

    • Hi Mart, thanks for the comment. A lot of people struggle with this very same thing. That fear of rejection is very real, but you are worthy of a healthy relationship. It comes back to how we feel about ourselves. It’s also a trust issue and that takes time. Try not to be hard on yourself, though. I know that’s easier said than done but try to be kind to yourself and give yourself time to readjust to being in a relationship with someone. Relationships can help us to heal as well if it’s a non-abusive relationship. I wish you the best.

  2. Yet reading all this, doesn’t actually help at all. It’s just saying the same thing over and over. Just don’t be hard on yourself………yet all I want to do is have even a small success, yet that seems so unassailable. Yes I’ve kept going and got back up some many times, constantly knocked back down again.

    At least I’m looking for something, hope I find a way one day

    • Hi Rich, I’m sorry that you didn’t find the post helpful. I understand how it can be frustrating when you’re trying to have some success but to no avail. I hope that you will keep looking and find your way one day. Don’t give up on it!

  3. Great post Melissa! Just yesterday, I was working with someone on a complicated project and he said, “Leah, you’re so hard on yourself.” Whoa. And he’s not the first person to say that. So, it made me realize that I am not aware of it, which is exactly what you’ve said here: “The most important thing is to become aware that you are doing it.” I see that this is true, and I’m going to be examining the ways in which I find myself being hard on myself. Your timing was superb Melissa. Keep up your great work!

    • Thanks, Leah! I guess this was pretty great timing for you. It’s not always easy for us to see when we’re being too hard on ourselves. We just think that we’re doing what we have to do and there’s no reason to question it. I’m glad that someone pointed it out to you and that you’re going to think about how you are too hard on yourself. I hope you find that you are able to be more aware of it now.

  4. Great post Melissa! All great points you’ve made here. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes which is, “The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others on how you demand to be treated. Don’t settle for anything other than respect.” You’re awesome Melissa. Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s great and inspiring. Cheers!

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