We’ve gathered 27 experts to share how to stop beating yourself up.
Table of Contents
- Build a confidence habit
- Carve out 15-minutes a day to release self-sabotaging thoughts
- Validate your expertise
- Toss out limiting ideas
- Positive reinforcement
- Externalize the critic
- Create a personified voice of reason
- Switch from “should” to “could”
- Practice unconditional positive regard
- Utilize the Emotional Freedom Technique
- ‘Safe place’ or visualization
- Know your own value
- Learn to look at the bright side
- Give yourself a break
- Pause to reflect
- Accept we are human and imperfect
- Accept the mistake happened and your role in it
- Develop a plan to do better
- Reassess and, as needed, remind yourself thoughts and feelings can lie to us
- Know that you did the best you could
- Forgive yourself
- Learn from your experience
- Leave the past in the past
- Remind yourself that you’re human
- Love yourself
- Shift your focus to what you can control
- Let your dreams inspire you
- Examine your plans and priorities
- Notice your own disempowering thoughts
- Learn to love what is
- Trace self-criticism to its source
- Consider journaling or speaking to a therapist about the issues that you find
- Play with your critic
- Set boundaries for yourself
- Stand up and be nice to yourself
- Name it
- Empathy and compassion
- Social support
- Blow the whistle
- Tend to the weaker “self”
- Tend to the bully
- Get to the “why” this is happening to begin with
- Ask yourself, “Why do I believe I need to be perfect?”
- Please stop the self-doubt talk
- Release the judgment
- Stop being your worst critic
- Let go of expectations of yourself
- Try not to compare yourself or your life to others
- Let go of how you think you’re supposed to be
- Don’t let mistakes stop you in your tracks
- Practice self-compassion
- Return of self-love
- Focus on the present because that is all you can control
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Develop self-compassion
- Reflect on what you learned
- Be compassionate with your own self
- Do some sensory grounding exercises
- Acknowledge that beating yourself up is totally optional
- Consider how beating yourself up serves you
- Awareness is the first step
- Turning your mind into an ally
- Become the scientist of your life
- Dust yourself off and try again
- Acknowledge your mistake
- Be kind to yourself
- Distract yourself
- Pace yourself
- Let it go
- Develop self-worth
- Give yourself permission to celebrate your little wins
- Gratitude attitude
- Practice positive self-talk, forgive yourself and refrain from comparing yourself to others
- Frequently Asked Questions
Transitional Life Strategist, Randi Levin Coaching
Build a confidence habit
Confidence is your ability to effectively and boldly self-lead. It is predicated on powerful decision-making based on a belief system that only you can uniquely define for yourself.
Being self-confident does not mean that you are bossy or a know-it-all, nor does it mean that you are fearless. What it does mean is that you possess a daily dose of self-respect and an innate vulnerability that you are willing to share with the world. Leadership begins with self-leadership and self-leadership is rooted in trusting yourself regardless of the outcome.
Self-confidence is important because it enables choice and achievement and detracts from negative self-talk and feelings of insecurity. Confident people tend to overthink less and stay in-action more.
They tend to be more optimistic, even when things do not go as planned, because they understand that achieving goals is a process that requires flexibility and consistency.
Carve out 15-minutes a day to release self-sabotaging thoughts
Create this mini-meeting with yourself to document any negativity or limiting ideas that are holding you back from the success you seek. Keep a journal to reference this time with yourself.
For every negative thought or idea, reframe it. Write down a positive and uplifting confident thought to replace each of your negative ones. Use this mini-meeting to reset the change you seek and the bold choices you are free to make next.
Validate your expertise
Keep a running list of all the things you do well and you are an expert in. They can be as pedestrian as knitting or as elevated as being a rocket scientist. Challenge yourself to lead with your expertise in conversations, on interviews, in pitches, at work, and when negotiating in everyday life.
Are you a really good manager of people? Then look for ways to show up as a leader in your every day. Validating what you do well, counteracts fear and creates evidence to support self-esteem and confidence.
Toss out limiting ideas
Create a list of 3 goals that you would like to achieve. Then write down all of the possible outcomes and ideas that could go wrong with achieving those goals. In front of a mirror read your list out loud. Then crumble up the list and toss it out.
Next, create a new list of goals re-worded as if you have already achieved them. Write down how you want to feel, what you are now experiencing, and the results of your successes. Make sure to include the action steps you took to make that happen for yourself.
Now, read your new empowering goal list and associated ideas out loud in front of a mirror. What is different if you believe that you CAN achieve your goals? Lean into your first action step. Releasing your limitations builds out your possibilities and wins.
We all know the importance of positive reinforcement. If you want your partner, child, family member, or friend to continue doing something, just give them praise for doing it.
Let’s say your partner surprises you by bringing you flowers. If you tell him how grateful you are for such beautiful flowers, he will likely buy them again. If you criticize him that they were too expensive, not the right kind, or just don’t appreciate them, not to worry – you will likely ensure he will not purchase them (or possibly any other gift!) again.
Positive reinforcement also works when you are trying to motivate yourself to reach a goal. On the other hand, making ourselves feel bad that we haven’t achieved our goals is going to set us up for failure.
Let’s say you are trying to cut down on eating unhealthy foods. Sure enough, you find yourself indulging in a dessert that is not on your list of approved foods. You can criticize yourself for having no willpower, but that makes it less likely that you’ll stick with the diet.
If you focus on the fact that you got through most of the day without unhealthy eating, and encourage yourself that you will have another chance tomorrow, you are more likely to be successful.
Think about times you were most successful at achieving a goal. Were you more likely feeling good or bad about yourself?
If making yourself feel good is more likely to lead to success, why are we always beating ourselves up and being self-critical? This tendency toward self-criticism is so prominent in the world, that it really begs the question of why we do this to ourselves when it does not appear to serve us well. I would even argue it is a form of self-sabotage that not only inhibits our success but more likely leads us to failure.
In attempting to understand and shed light on this tendency, I would like to introduce the idea of unconscious motivation. Most of us tend to set goals based on what we want out of life. We are then confused when we aren’t able to achieve those goals.
According to psychoanalytic theory, in addition to the conscious wish to be successful, we may be unconsciously sabotaging ourselves for reasons that are outside of our awareness. I use the word “unconscious” because I don’t think we typically understand why we do this to ourselves and it is outside of our conscious awareness.
In my experience, people often worry something bad will happen to them if they are successful. Think about the person who receives a significant promotion at work. Often they are excited, but there may also be a sinking feeling.
When someone is successful in achieving a goal, they are often afraid to say it aloud lest it becomes “jinxed” or sabotaged in some way. There is a tendency for people not to share anticipated good news before it is official. For many of us, success can feel anywhere from unsettling to even dangerous.
When we beat ourselves up, it may be communication that we are unconsciously uncomfortable or frightened of our success and maybe sabotaging ourselves to bypass the potential pitfalls of success.
This may be connected to a superstitious worry that something bad will hurt them if they are successful. Somehow people believe you can “jinx” good things by speaking about them. A variation of this theme relates to people who grew up with critical parents or siblings.
When they would accomplish success, they were criticized by a family member for their success and thus learned not to feel good about their successes but to always associate them with some form of criticism. Perhaps the parent was perfectionistic and criticized the child for a 95 instead of 100 on a test, or the child felt threatened or jealous of the child’s success.
Regardless of the reason, over time, the criticism is self-reinforced and becomes an automatic part of the thought process that occurs each time one encounters success. Many self-critical people have internalized messages from a highly critical parent that have become part of their unconscious way of thinking.
Even though it may not make sense, this tendency toward self-criticism becomes attached to their way of thinking. As an adult, it may be hard to challenge these fears that are deeply embedded in our psyche.
Once the target of why self-attacking is identified, exploration of what one’s unconscious process is doing to sabotage success can be explored. Ultimately, the individual can begin to create a different model or new narrative that includes self-compassion and celebration of one’s successes.
By learning to examine what is truly going on inside of our minds, we are able to make deep and meaningful changes.
Externalize the critic
Anytime you catch yourself being self-critical, notice it, and identify the voice as a big green monster (like the pesky germ in those flu commercials who just won’t leave). It enables you to see it as a living entity that exists separately.
When you personalize the inner critic, with humor, silliness, strange-shaped body, a ridiculously funny name, all help you in approaching the voice to sound as silly as it is.
Remember too, that the inner-critic is not malicious, it is trying to help protect you from getting hurt, it’s just irrational, distorted, and has poor vision. So imagine it as a character you can turn off with an imaginary remote control. Suddenly it becomes containable, and separate from you.
The bottom line is, noticing and externalizing negative thoughts are both strategies of creating distance from them, which allows you to gain perspective.
Create a personified voice of reason
Create other characters to interact with the inner critic. We know the critic is biased. So create a personified voice of reason, which can help ascertain more accurate thoughts.
When the inner critic is at work, make sure your voice of reason can come in like a copy editor or movie director who yells “cut “ and swoops into converting a pessimistic thought to a more rational and realistic one.
When the inner-critic tells you, “You always do things wrong,” notice it, and have your voice of reason come in with a more balanced statement such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes, but other times I do things really well.”
Your inner critic is simple and only speaks in black and white, make sure your voice of reason is more thoughtful and is fluent in shades of grey.
Michelle R. Hammer, MS, LCPC
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Motivational Speaker | Founder, Turning Leaf Counseling and Consultation
I am the queen of beating myself up so I can easily spot it in my patients, family, and friends quite easily. The hard part is helping overcome this nasty habit.
This is where a basic understanding of cognitive distortions will help greatly. There are 10 different distortions persons use when giving themselves a hard time.
Knowledge is power. Educating yourself on how you think and then re-framing to a more empowering thought is a brilliant way to encourage, not discourage yourself.
Switch from “should” to “could”
You often “should” yourself. Every time there is a “should” in your thoughts, you change it to a “could”. This shift in thought is empowering and encouraging and forward-thinking instead of being caught up in the past.
Practice unconditional positive regard
Another way to stop beating yourself up is to practice unconditional positive regard. Carl Rogers is the king of this theory for therapists; yet, it can be applied nicely to oneself in a personal way.
Quite simply, anytime you catch your thoughts bullying you, you say, “Even though___________(fill blank with whatever is bothering you), I still completely accept myself.”
Utilize the Emotional Freedom Technique
Thirdly, a well-researched way to break free from the emotions that are latent behind “beating yourself up” is tapping, better known as the Emotional Freedom Technique.
Using pressure points similar to acupuncture and acupressure, when in the middle of a battle to stop abusing yourself with your own words, you stop and take a few minutes to tap. This methodology has been researched and proven to assist persons who are struggling with self-acceptance.
‘Safe place’ or visualization
These are more advanced ways of coping with beating yourself up for someone struggling mightily. For lesser times of self-chastisement, I would advise to hear thought and then simply say “No, not today” and imagine a favorite place.
We, therapists, call it a safe place or visualization. Each time you imagine this place add a detail. This process short circuits your brain’s habitual response to your own perceived inadequacies, mistakes, fumbles, failures, etc.
There are many more ways to handle beating yourself up but I will leave you with this. When the beating starts, ask, “Is this what I would tell my partner or best friend?” If not, ask yourself, “What would I say?” then tell yourself the same.
Refuse to be anything less than gentle and kind with yourself and you will find you change this pattern of beating yourself up into accepting yourself and moving forward from mistakes to what you have and will learn with each struggle. After all, no one is perfect and our trials are often our best teachers.
Know your own value
Remind yourself of how capable, knowledgeable and talented you are. Understand that bad things happen to everyone and that you’re not alone. No one is perfect all the time so don’t hold yourself to impossible standards.
Learn to look at the bright side
When something goes wrong, do your very best to find something positive that may come from the situation. Perhaps one door closed, but now another one is likely to open in its place or maybe you didn’t really want what you thought you did.
Give yourself a break
If you find that you’re beating yourself up for any reason, give yourself a break by taking a nap, going for a walk, getting some air, or connecting with friends. Do what you can to lift your mood and make you feel better.
Pause to reflect
If you feel bad or guilty about something that happened, take a moment to look at the situation objectively. Perhaps it’s not as bad as you thought, or maybe you can learn something from it. Assess your part (from a distance) and use it as a learning experience and an opportunity to improve or be ready for similar situations that may come up.
Rob Magill, MA
TBHI Certified Telebehavioral Health Practitioner, Magill Counseling Associates, LLC
We all make mistakes in life. We are human, it is going to happen. Some mistakes are easy to move past. Others stick with us for a while. Here are some things you can do to help move past mistakes:
Accept we are human and imperfect
No one is perfect. Even very successful CEOs fail, have bad ideas, or poor implementations from time to time. So you did something you regret? So does everyone. You are in good company. But successful people don’t stay stuck there.
Viewing these failures as an opportunity to learn and grow can be very helpful in forging yourself as well as learning and moving forward.
Accept the mistake happened and your role in it
This is not an easy step, but it is necessary. Mistakes happen, but an honest look at why can become very productive. If someone doesn’t take an honest look, they may miss opportunities to improve (more on that below) or to avoid making the same mistake again.
It is also helpful to carefully look for any way that we contribute to the problem. It may be a small way or a big way. The size of the contribution doesn’t matter, just acknowledge that it is there.
Develop a plan to do better
Look at what you learned from #2. If you are in a similar situation again, how can you avoid the mistakes or get a better outcome? If needed, talk to others to have a rock-solid plan.
Reassess and, as needed, remind yourself thoughts and feelings can lie to us
If that little voice keeps telling you to beat yourself up, repeat this process. Did you miss anything? Do you honestly owe someone something to make amends? Or are you lying to yourself?
See, not every thought or emotion is an accurate reflection of our situation. We can essentially lie to ourselves. Did you do everything you can to correct the situation and prevent a recurrence? So those thoughts and feelings of guilt are not productive. They are false guilt.
Find ways to remind yourself that you don’t have anything to be guilty about and to move forward. Those thoughts and feelings should decrease over time. If they don’t, seeking professional help may be beneficial to help with moving forward.
Jaime Bronstein, LCSW
Licensed Therapist, Relationship Expert, Radio Host
Know that you did the best you could
Everyone is always doing the best they can at the moment with the tools they have. If you knew better, you would have done better. When you know better, you will do better.
Not forgiving yourself is not loving yourself. If you want to heal and move on from something, you need to forgive yourself. Not forgiving yourself keeps you in the past; moving on means being able to be present to create the future you want.
Learn from your experience
Everything in life happens for us, not to us, as it is all an opportunity for growth and upliftment. There are lessons to be learned from all of your experiences in life, so do your best to, instead of beating yourself up over something, shift into a more positive attitude and ask yourself, “what can I learn from this?”
Leave the past in the past
We cannot go back. As much as we would sometimes like to do a do-over, it just isn’t possible. Trust that whatever happened was supposed to happen. You can stop beating yourself up about the past by living in the present moment. You can’t go back, but you can move forward if you allow yourself to move onward and upward.
Remind yourself that you’re human
You are not perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Stop beating yourself up over something that could’ve happened to anyone. If you lived a perfect life, it would be boring. As humans, we need to “screw up” once in a while to learn and grow from our mistakes.
Loving yourself unconditionally can alleviate the need to beat yourself up. When you love yourself unconditionally, there is no judgment. Judgment only keeps you disconnected from yourself; it doesn’t help matters. Love yourself and know your worth. You deserve to feel loved by yourself and others.
Founder, Anchor Meditation
Meditation is scientifically proven to be one of them – and it doesn’t have to take more than 20-30 minutes of your day! When you feel more at peace, you will naturally radiate this to others in your life.
Shift your focus to what you can control
“May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Author unknown
You’ve probably heard some version of this serenity prayer quoted above. It holds a deep truth and the first step to feeling more peace: knowing the difference between what you can and can’t control.
Instead of worrying about something you can’t control, use this time to focus on what you can control. This includes deciding how to live your life and how you will feel about yourself and others.
Related: Why Worrying Is a Waste of Time
These include activities such as choosing how to take care of your mind, body, and soul. Here are some ways you can still control your own well-being:
- Having a regular exercise routine.
- Feeding your body with nourishing foods.
- Keeping your brain sharp by learning new things and skills.
- Keeping your mind happy by choosing to be grateful daily.
- Boosting your ability to stay calm and content by practicing meditation.
Staying inspired by reading uplifting content (yes, this includes being more conscious of the content you consume online…consider curating your social media feed or setting a designated time to check the news so you’re not hit with political news 24/7!)
Let your dreams inspire you
Another thing you can control even today is your commitment to your goals and dreams – if you choose to move towards them – will be with you for the long-haul.
In moments when you catch these thoughts surfacing, decide to pause. Notice the thoughts – and then flip them around. Instead of worrying about the uncertainty, decide how you will live your life regardless of the outcome.
Think about all the goals you want to achieve. Have you written them down? If so, have you outlined some specific action steps you could take to make them happen? If there are things holding you back from executing on these goals, examine them further.
Is it a lack of information – lean on Google! Is it a lack of resources? Shift your focus on how you can first get the necessary resources to move forward. Is it self-doubt? Shift your focus on the courage and strength you’ve already demonstrated in the past.
Examine your plans and priorities
Feeling overwhelmed often forces us to re-examine what we should be focusing on most. Use this time to examine your priorities. As you review your goals and dreams, assign how important each is to you and then look at the plan you’ve created to get there.
What does it mean for you if these things were to actually happen? Think about what you may need to do in case that a certain policy thwarts your plan A. Create a plan B if you’d like.
Your brain hates that feeling of uncertainty. That’s why it sends pangs of stress into your bloodstream. It’s trying to get you to either take action, change your mind, or create a plan. Having a plan puts your brain at ease, relieving those feelings of stress and anxiety.
Notice your own disempowering thoughts
The neural pathways in your brain that are associated with feelings of empowerment and confidence have to be strengthened, again and again, until they can stand on their own.
Meditation helps you get more familiar with those mental patterns that leave you feeling powerless. When you meditate, you’re not just reducing stress. You’re also boosting feelings of self-empowerment so you can be more resilient no matter what happens in the world.
Recognize those instances when your mind instinctively wants to gravitate towards stressful thoughts. Learn to notice these automatic reactions. The more often you can notice these impulses arising within you, the less power they will have over you.
You’ll come to understand that if you can keep your body sitting still in meditation, you can keep it from overreacting to any particular piece of information from the world. You can control the stress response by being an observer of your body’s reactions!
Learn to love what is
“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” —Bob Goff
Uncertainty is part of life. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. It’s your judgment and your perception that colors events. The way you see the world determines how bad or good you feel. So how do you actually learn to embrace uncertainty so that you can feel better and enjoy life more fully?
One way is to think back to those times in your life when uncertainty turned out to be a good thing. Positive surprises are just the other side of uncertainty. You’ve probably met a lot of great people and have come across many great opportunities – without ever having planned for those things to happen!
How do you become more aware of your habitual judgements and perceptions that keep you in a negative cycle? By sitting quietly and observing them! In the quiet space that meditation can provide, you recognize that no matter what appears in this moment – you are still here. Whatever happens, happens. You don’t have to push it away or cling to it. Without letting emotions take over, you have the power to decide how you will respond to whatever life is presenting next.
We know the stakes are high. But no matter what happens in this election, you are the creator of your life. We believe in you and your power to master your happiness by taking care of yourself.
David D. Clarke M.D.
President, Psychophysiologic Disorders Association
Trace self-criticism to its source
No one is born beating themselves up. They must be taught. Usually this happens because an important person early in your life made you feel like nothing you did was good enough. This happens in any of a variety of ways:
- Failure to praise.
- Problems in the family that you wanted to solve but could not.
- Emotional or verbal abuse.
- Physical or sexual abuse.
- Any treatment of you that made you feel less worthy than other children.
Figure out who the person (or persons) was and how they inflicted this false message that you could not help but internalize. Then, connect with the fully justified negative emotions around this by imagining a child of your own being forced to cope with the same maltreatment.
Consider journaling or speaking to a therapist about the issues that you find
Then give yourself tremendous credit for having heroically persevered through a toxic environment to become who you are today. Before long, you will find you are giving yourself as much slack as you would give anyone else.
International Speaker, Rediscover Your Play
First, we must identify why we are beating ourselves up in the first place.
Part of the reason is science. Your inner critic stems from having a “primitive “survivor brain” that encompasses the brain stem, the older part of our brain that is tasked with physical survival and the fight-or-flight response to danger.” – PositivePsychology.com
Your brain also has Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANT), as well as a negativity bias. So when you say to yourself that you are beating yourself up, your inner critic is trying to simply protect you from countless different scenarios.
Play with your critic
Once you are able to recognize this, then you can ACT approach, Acceptance, and Commitment Therapy. I refer to this as playing with your inner critic. You recognize, name, and separate the inner critic from yourself. I have clients who actually do the following:
- Write down all of your inner critic thoughts you are feeling at that given time.
- Describe what the inner critic looks like.
- Explain what the inner critic sounds like.
- Name the inner critic based on what they say, what they sound like, and what they look like. (My inner critic is called Gargamel as he sucks all the fun out of the room.)
- Once, I name my inner critic, I can see what thoughts are Gargamel and recognize they are not my own.
- An additional supportive step is text or emails to your friends whenever your Gargamel shows up because once you are able to put light on what your inner critic is saying, it begins to quiet down.
You cannot destroy your inner critic as it will just come back louder than ever. You can quiet it though by giving it direct attention and recognize what your inner critic is saying is not true or not true anymore.
Set boundaries for yourself
Many times, we “beat ourselves up” when someone else says something that triggers us and then we ask ourselves if it is true. This is where boundaries are really important.
Once you are able to identify your inner critic and recognize what it is saying, you are now able to set boundaries for yourself so that anyone else that is being mean to you in a similar way to your inner critic you will not tolerate anymore.
Once you are able to remove both that internal and external toxicity from your life, huge weight and burden will be lifted and you will finally be able to hear your inner cheerleader or superhero.
The quiet whisper that says “you got this.” The more you are able to listen to this voice, the more empowered you will be to stand up to your inner critic as well as any external critic in the future.
Stand up and be nice to yourself
Lastly, by simply standing up for yourself and not allowing your past self that dealt with trauma to dictate your future, your example alone can inspire many of your friends and family to also not continue to carry that historical trauma.
Related: How to Cheer Yourself Up
Many people don’t know how to be nice to themselves. So, you being able to figure this out isn’t just helpful to you, but a significant gift to others. You are showing them how they can possibly love themselves and making the case that living without so much self-criticism is not only possible but tremendously healthy.
Beating yourself up is also known as shame and judgment. The reason shame feels so much more intense than other emotions is that it seeps into our identity. For example, guilt easily boils down to “I did something bad,” whereas shame boils down to “I am bad.” The shame spiral is complicated by judgment. “I should have known better. I’m so stupid for having done that thing.”
To stop beating yourself up, you need four things:
Labeling the scenario helps to separate you from the thing that happened. The formula is simply: [Scenario that happened] and [emotion you are feeling].
If you are an entrepreneur beating yourself up, the scenario might be “I didn’t sell as much product as I’d hoped. That’s making me feel bummed out.”
Empathy and compassion
Offer a kind, realistic, and adaptive viewpoint to the scenario. Compassion is like empathy, but it offers a desire to help. To add to the “Naming it” step, it would sound like this: I didn’t sell as much product as I’d hoped. That’s making me feel bummed out. Thankfully, I got good feedback from my customers on what they did and didn’t like, and I can take that into account moving forward.
Talking about shame in a safe group setting helps to normalize the experience, validates how you feel, and offers social recognition of the pain/shame. When we get into the cycle of beating ourselves up, we often think we are the only ones to have made that mistake.
Social validation e.g. “That sucks. I’ve been in a similar situation before,” helps to take you out of your own shame and judgment cycle.
Often the biggest part of shame is not understanding — or wanting to look at– what led up to the shame/judgment cycle. Taking empathic and compassionate steps to educate yourself around the mistake helps to provide meaning. This is not about saying “this was meant to happen,” rather “while this was painful, I’ve learned from it.”
The beat down begins
My daughter sat up in her bed banging the back of her head against the wall in tears crying out, “I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself”. With a shriek, she would let out a final “I just want to die”.
We adopted her, her two sisters and brother after foster parenting them for two years. None of their lives were easy and they all carried different levels of self-hatred. Better said, they all probably carried equal levels of self-hatred but all showed it differently.
My daughter’s battle would always come to a head when she had done something “wrong” and was about to be reprimanded. It was being reprimanded that always made her snap. It landed us numerous nights in the emergency room for a psych consult.
At this point she’s about 10 years old as I recall, she’s African American and she’s adopted. She had been given the nickname “pissy coon balloon” by the adults in her life because of her propensity to wet the bed. And here she was in my house – a middle-aged white male who was seeing so much of her in himself.
The bully inside us all
The battle I see in her is the battle I see in my own self. The language I use to berate myself when I make a mistake is a language I hope no one hears me say out loud. If I ever heard one person talking to another person that way, I would probably intervene. I wouldn’t let one person speak to another that way and yet it’s how I talk to myself.
My daughter and I come from different backgrounds. I’m a middle-aged white male and my daughter (at that time) was a ten-year-old African American girl. I’m a fairly successful middle manager in corporate America, I’ve written a book, I have a patent, and I’ve pastored a church.
My daughter was struggling to get through fourth grade. I was brought up in a standard suburban nuclear family. My daughter was a ward of the court – suffering abandonment from her earliest age.
Yet, inside each of us lies this voice poised to lash out at the slightest evidence of our shortcomings. The voice, the one inside ourselves with whom we constantly battle, is named shame.
To kill the weed, we must find the root
It’s important to capture the imagery of “beating oneself up”. It’s important to see it for what it is – a larger dynamic between two parts of the human psyche. Visualizing the schoolyard playground is helpful here as we see one larger child “beating up” on a smaller, weaker child in order to gain some kind of compliance to something.
The problem? Both contenders in the schoolyard battle are you. A stronger “you” that’s attempting to gain compliance and a smaller, quieter weaker “you” that has been caught doing something “noncompliant”.
What’s needed most is not unlike what’s needed on the schoolyard playground. What’s needed is for an adult to show up. We need a third person, an adult, in the conversation. That third person may be a therapist, a friend, or a trusted person. Oddly, the most helpful intervening adult is your own self.
How to stop a school yard beat down
Blow the whistle
There’s always the short term and immediate goal of simply stopping the altercation. Before anything else happens, someone has to blow the whistle.
Tend to the weaker “self”
Assessing the damage here to the weaker self is important. Do some triage. Find out what’s hurt. Let the weaker self know they matter and attempt to reassure them (you) that you don’t need to be afraid to…. Fail, speak up, be different, ask questions – or whatever it is that started the beat down from the bully (also “you” remember).
Tend to the bully
This is the part most often left out and is most critical. When we see the beat down happening, it’s important to first blow the whistle, but then to counsel both the bully and the one being bullied. Without tending to the bully, there will be another beat down shortly and just chastising or punishing the bully (you still) will only inflame the situation
Yes, it’s important as the adult in the room to tell the weaker, defenseless “you” that it’s ok to make mistakes, to fail, and to be wrong. Yes, it’s important to convince that shy quiet you to come out anyway because the world needs you. But we all tend to love the weak and hate the mean and we simply can’t allow ourselves to hate the bully or we’re still hating ourselves!
Get to the “why” this is happening to begin with
The first step in overcoming this tendency to beat yourself up is to understand why we are doing it, to begin with. What is causing the bully to lash out? What is causing you to have to start beating you up?
Just trying to force ourselves to stop is like an alcoholic trying to stop drinking without understanding why it is they are drinking, to begin with. While it’s important to stop drinking, blow the whistle so to speak, it’s most important to resolve it for good.
Why is this happening?
The bully has a name: shame. It’s there to protect you from you.
Shame resides in each of us. Ironically, it’s there to protect us from looking stupid in front of other people. It offers each of us different defense mechanisms to prevent us from looking stupid and one of them is this voice that actually beats us up every time we’ve disobeyed it’s orders to not look stupid.
Shame has very trustworthy characteristics.
This voice was probably initiated and nurtured by some people or circumstances we trusted as children that didn’t want to see us get hurt. It may have been our parents, teachers, friends, or pastors.
As such, this voice can be a formidable force for “assisting” us in making our decisions. Also, the weaker “you” know the bully is actually right. If we fail, we may feel pain. We may look stupid and it may hurt.
If shame can convince you that you’re an idiot, you’ll be less likely to speak up (and look stupid). If shame can convince you that you’re a failure, you will be less likely to try. If you never try, you will never fail.
If shame can convince you in any way that you are ugly, you will most likely stay quietly in your room so as not to be noticed and, potentially, be hurt. Your bully self has learned this from childhood and has been right so far. Looking stupid and failing can hurt – it’s best to be prevented if possible.
Oddly, while this voice is misguided, it’s your friend. It’s part of you.
You can’t ultimately be at war with yourself. You have likely come to believe that you are the most trustworthy person you know so telling your own self you don’t need “protection” from this world would probably be an argument you would lose in court! We all need some protection at some time. But it’s time for the adults in the room to make those decisions, not the children.
It’s time to grow up
As adults, we have the right to make our own choices. We can choose to fail if we want (by the way, failure is a key to growth so failure is actually your friend too, shame just doesn’t know it).
As an adult, we have the right to voice our opinions even if they end up being wrong. And, as an adult, we have a right to not let our psychology make our decisions for us. We have a right to decide when we put ourselves out there and when we don’t and we have the will to suffer the consequences with dignity.
As adults we also have the ability to be kind to BOTH parts of us. They are, after all, both US!! After thanking the bully for their service, we can help that voice, the you, that’s beating you(rself) up, see that they don’t need to protect you anymore.
That you have a right to decide when you put yourself out there and when you don’t and that that decision will be made by the adults in the room – not the children from our past.
Further, we can possibly reeducate the bully. We can show them there’s nothing to fear from failure and, in fact, it’s a gift. We can show them there’s nothing to fear from weakness or frailty because it’s something we share in common with all humanity. We can help this protective side of you see the value that comes from these things.
Above all, thank the bully for trying to help, but in a quiet assured voice, let that part of you know that the adult you can take it from here.
Patience is the virtue
Eventually, as we practice these things and become aware of “the why” we are doing them, we’ll begin to see the beatdowns coming before they begin. As I said, the beatings usually start after some form of “failure” – this is most likely when you’ll turn on yourself.
Once you get good at seeing this, the adult you can watch for the bully to arrive immediately after the failure and you can intervene before the next beating begins. This is when you know you’re making progress.
This is what I had to do when I got my first poor book review on Amazon. I saw the review and immediately knew I had to intervene to prevent myself from beating myself up for doing something so stupid as putting that book out there!
Above all else, it’s important to remember this will take the time or you are simply giving yourself something else to beat yourself up about. Yes, that’s right. Soon you will be beating yourself up for beating yourself up if you’re not careful. There is no easy fix here but the dividends are huge. The dividends are what psychologists call whole-hearted living because we are no longer divided against our own selves. It’s at this point that we become truly unstoppable!
Leadership & Executive Coach, Woman Ruled
Across the board, women and men are hard on themselves. Especially high achievers. We live in a culture that worships perfection, overvalues how we look and perform and where playing the comparison game is the daily norm.
Social media only makes matters worse. No wonder, many of us base our entire identity and on how others perceive us!
The truth is, we have lost our own sense of who we are and the ability to validate ourselves. No question, we all want to be loved and accepted. Yet, basing our entire self-worth on how others perceive us, is a disaster waiting to happen.
There is no such thing as ‘perfect’. As we strive for the unattainable, feelings of unworthiness, anxiety, and self-doubt seep in – all contributors to low self-esteem.
So what to do about it? We learn to stop berating ourselves, comparing ourselves to others and nix our expectations that cause disappointment and heartache. We learn to feel comfortable in our own skin and ultimately, become the authority of our own lives.
Ask yourself, “Why do I believe I need to be perfect?”
Perhaps like many of us, it was how we learned to get love as a small child. Ask yourself, then ask the question again. I bet you’ll get a different answer. You’ll recognize that you are loved for who you are – not only for what you accomplish or how you look.
Please stop the self-doubt talk
Doubting yourself and your actions are usually about what happened in the past. “Did I say the wrong thing?” Should I have said Yes?” “Was I Too Much?” Trust your intuition. Trust yourself and the decisions you make. If you focus on what’s happening right now, you can make a positive impact on the present and a difference in your future.
Release the judgment
Judgment only leads to negativity and an overly critical view of everything – the world, yourself, and all the people who truly matter to you. Judgment is heavy. It dilutes your precious energy. Instead, direct your energy into things that you love and inspire you.
Stop being your worst critic
Who are you to think less of yourself than others do? Belittling yourself is passe – it only keeps you small. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Make besties with your deliciously, imperfect self.
Let go of expectations of yourself
Expectations only create disappointment, especially if they aren’t met. Be open to how situations unfold. The outcome may be better than you imagined.
Try not to compare yourself or your life to others
The comparison game is usually played with someone you think has more or is doing more than you. Most likely, that isn’t true!
Let go of how you think you’re supposed to be
Instead of being and doing what you think you are supposed to be and do, claim who you really are. Your authentic self is your most powerful weapon.
Don’t let mistakes stop you in your tracks
We all make them. You are more than worthy and enough. Learn from your mistakes and try not to make them again.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
It’s important to understand that we don’t beat ourselves up with the intent of hurting ourselves, but because we hope it will help us.
It is a learned behavior that our parents modeled themselves or engaged in with each other and with us. We generally beat ourselves up to try to self-motivate to be better people.
However, behavioral science tells us that, paradoxically, being hard on ourselves actually de-motivates us. When we berate ourselves, we feel bad and are less likely to change our behavior. Alternatively, when we’re kind to ourselves, we feel better and are more inclined to behave more in our best interest.
The best motivator is self-compassion which is neither refusing to view yourself honestly nor letting yourself off the hook. It is simply meeting your own suffering with the kindness you would (hopefully) extend to others. You stop beating yourself up by offering yourself self-compassion when you’re unhappy with how you’ve done.
It’s critical to step back from whatever mistakes you’ve made and analyze them with curiosity, not with harsh judgment. It’s also critical to value all your efforts to improve and to give yourself credit for how hard you try to be a better person.
Certified Addiction and Trauma Therapist, Relationship Expert
Beating yourself up, abandoning yourself, and criticizing yourself are the worst of crimes. I call it a double crime because it is horrible enough what other people can do to us, but it is what we do to ourselves because of them.
Return of self-love
In healing work, the root of transformation is when you have a soul retrieval, which is the return to self – love. A person must be on their own team, in full alignment with oneself, and never divide. It is a trick of power to divide and conquer and then take over from the top. This is how it works individually and personally too – one must never divide against oneself.
You may want to make amends, look at your faults and mistakes, or be a better person, but it must be rooted first in self-love. Like a tree that is grounded in the earth for a long time, one must be in the pillar of self – esteem. Then heal. Then make changes.
Beating up yourself and feeling guilty is like trying to pay a fine for a crime over and over again. Pay the fine and move on. Don’t ask the judge to bring up the punishment again. Stop the behavior of taking yourself down and watch life improve. Loving oneself is the jewel of healing.
Certified Nutrition and Life Coach | “The Menopause Coach” | Creator, Power Surge Program
Focus on the present because that is all you can control
There are fundamentally two ways to stop beating yourself up; the first is to focus on the present moment. When you focus on the things you have done (or not done) in the past, it is depressing and upsetting even though there is absolutely nothing you can do to change it. You can’t go back, no matter how often you play the scene out in your head with the “could haves and should haves”.
On the other hand, when you think about the future it creates anxiety, and you “beat yourself” up about not being as far along as you think you should be, or that you’ll never be able to reach your goal.
Focus on the present because that is all you can control. Focus on what you can do or say NOW that will impact your life for the better. What step can you take in order to correct something that happened in the past?
Stop comparing yourself to others
The second way to stop beating yourself up is to stop comparing yourself to others. It is a trait only found in humans in the natural world, and it is so destructive. Each one of us is on our own journey, whether that is health, wellness, career, family, etc. There will always be people with more, as there will always be people with less than you.
The time you spend beating yourself up because you aren’t as good, as thin, as rich, as someone else is time lost forever. There is nothing wrong with finding a role model, someone you want to be like, but remember they too started at square one.
Success Coach | Author | Speaker
Imagine this: you’re walking down the street and all of sudden you trip up, falling to the floor. The next thing you do is deliberately hit yourself around the face as a punishment for falling over and to try to discourage yourself from falling over again.
Sounds absurd, right? No-one actually does that, not that I’ve seen anyway! And yet, many of us do it to ourselves mentally all the time.
We mentally beat ourselves up for our mistakes, mishaps, bad habits, unchanged behavior, and sometimes even because of our own internal thoughts and judgments. We end up in a vicious cycle of making a mistake, then judging ourselves for it only to find we usually end up repeating the mistake or behavior again.
When I start working with clients, they usually start out with the belief that beating themselves up for their mistakes is the only way they will feel motivated to change.
And yet several studies from psychology show that humans respond better to positive reinforcement than negative punishment – so why then do people continue to beat themselves up?
Our use of self-criticism isn’t just a tool (albeit an ineffective one) to try to get us to change; it’s a direct reflection of what we believe about ourselves. If we make a mistake and judge ourselves as being stupid, an idiot, or a failure, we do so because that’s what we believe we are.
In fact, our self-concept, in other words, the idea we hold about ourselves and who we are, is responsible for a lot more than just whether we beat ourselves up or not: it’s responsible for all of the results we create in our life.
This is ultimately the key differentiating factor between people who are more successful versus those who are less so: it’s their beliefs about who they are.
So, when my clients come to me because they are stuck in their life and business and unable to create the result they want, the answer will always be found in their beliefs about who they are, what they are capable of, and what value they think they hold.
Which is why, when I help clients to transform their beliefs about who they are, their entire world changes.
However, beating ourselves up blocks this process and causes a vicious downward spiral. When clients judge themselves or beat themselves up for what they’ve done or not done, for not changing, for not being more successful yet, or for repeating old patterns, it blocks them from being able to discover the reason why they haven’t changed – and it’s that reason that once identified, opens the door for transformation.
The first step in ceasing to beat yourself up is to develop self-compassion. Just like you wouldn’t hit yourself for physically falling over, be compassionate with yourself for having tripped up with your behavior. Recognize that if you’ve made a mistake or repeated an unwanted habit, it was simply a result of unconscious programming (ie. beliefs or perception) – they are no reflection of your core, intrinsic worth.
Once you are compassionate with yourself, you are able to get curious as to what exactly caused the behaviour in the first place – it’s what I call ‘compassionate curiosity’.
Once we investigate our behavior with compassionate curiosity, we are far better positioned to discover what might be the limiting or unloving belief we are holding about ourselves that gave rise to the behavior in the first place.
And when we let go of that, through forgiveness, we find ourselves not only no longer beating ourselves up for our mistakes, but loving ourselves despite them.
Author | Philanthropist | Principal, Change We Seek Coaching
It is so easy to see the obstacles instead of fo the options. One of my favorite quotes from Nelson Mandela is, “I never lose; I only win or learn.” This reminds us that there are lessons in every endeavor. Some you get the trophy and others you get the training.
Reflect on what you learned
First, assess what went well. Celebrate that you tried. Find grateful moments to gain momentum to move forward. Investigate how you can get better because of the situation.
Accept the fact that outcomes are a result of seen and unseen inputs. The best you can do is to do all you can do. Remember, you had the courage to try. Use the knowledge and wisdom you gained to explore other options.
I’ve found that mindfulness and gratitude can help you gain a fresh perspective on the situation.
Being able to reframe the situation and recognize the opportunities instead of the obstacles. A daily mindfulness moment can become a welcome start to each day and give you a more positive perspective as your approach the day.
Consider recruiting one or two trusted friends; this will kept you accountable and established a mini mindfulness community that became a refuge from the daily challenges of feeling desperate.
Here’s a quick mindfulness hack that has helped 1000’s others “PAUSE.” The idea is to use the power of commitment and connections to reframe. Every day, take a moment to Pause, Acknowledge what you are grateful for Unite with your trusted friend(s) via text. Share your gratitude with them, and Evaluate how you feel.
This daily practice solicits a call and response communication flow. By calling out positivity to your friends, you will receive a response in your time of need. The flow of this mindfulness practice will help anyone find focus during a stressful day and keep you from sinking into focusing on what didn’t work. Additionally, the documentation on your mobile device will be an ever-present reminder that this, too, shall pass.
Weston Clay, MHC-LP
Be compassionate with your own self
As a therapist, I notice that people who are so kind and compassionate with others are often quite hard on themselves. In these cases, I like to help my clients to develop self-compassion. This can look at a number of different ways, but often includes a more compassionate and validating style of self-talk.
For example, instead of saying to yourself “don’t be sad” you might say to yourself “of course you’re sad because you are going through something that is hard.” One good way to think about it is to think of the ways a good parent would talk to their child.
The parent wouldn’t shame the child for their feelings or dismiss them for having needs. Instead, a good parent tries to come from a place of compassion and understanding, even during difficult conversations. It is that same attitude that we want to try to cultivate toward ourselves.
So next time you make a mistake that you would normally beat yourself up over, try to think about how a supportive parent or friend would talk to you about that mistake. We all make mistakes and feeling shame about it usually just makes us feel alone and disconnected, which makes it unlikely that we will learn anything valuable from it.
Brenda Di Bari
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, HALSTEAD | Certified Life Coach | Lifestyle Consultant
If you are a person who takes responsibility for your actions, chances are you’ve fallen into the trap of beating yourself up about things that didn’t go the way you intended or various missteps you’ve made along your way.
Taking stock and acknowledging stuff you’ve done that you wish you hadn’t is a crucial part of learning from mistakes and growing. However, it’s essential not to get into the routine of allowing your positive energy to seep out by focusing on regrets, which will only hinder your progress.
To avoid this tendency of many people, here are some suggestion of perspective changers to learn to stop beating yourself up:
- Realize that when you make a “mistake,” it is your chance to learn from it. For some, this may sound cliche but honestly, how else do we know then by trying and failing?
- Do you expect perfection of yourself? Would you expect perfection from your child? Learn to show yourself some empathy and compassion. We are all only human and here to learn and grow.
- Take a look inside and try to understand the root of why you’re beating yourself up. Is what you are telling yourself accurate and as bad as you think?
- Are you comparing yourself to others? We often have role models or people we admire, and somehow, we never measure up to our image of them. Remember, you are you, there’s no one else exactly like you, and you are fabulous!
- Take a moment to look at what went right and focus on creating more of that.
We are all a work in progress, and taking the time to look inside and figure ourselves out leads to a much happier feeling.
Dr. Brooke Smith
Do some sensory grounding exercises
Beating yourself up is an artifact of your thoughts. When you catch yourself doing it, the first step is to take a break from your thoughts altogether with either a body scan meditation, a sensory grounding exercise (e.g. the 5-4-3-2-1 practice for anxiety), or embodied movement (e.g. noticing the sensations in the soles of your feet while walking with no distractions).
Any of these practices will shift you out of the narrative experience (where your brain makes everything mean something) by creating a direct sensory experience. This gives you a break from the spiral of self-criticism.
Acknowledge that beating yourself up is totally optional
When you return to your thinking-mind, acknowledge that beating yourself up is totally optional. You’ve just proven that it’s optional by having a direct sensory experience where your attention was captured by the sensations in your body… and you didn’t have the bandwidth to beat yourself up.
Does beating yourself up ever actually improve a situation? Or does it just make you feel even worse?
Consider how beating yourself up serves you
You do it for a reason but what is the reason? How does beating yourself up protect you from something scarier? What would you be risking if you didn’t beat yourself up? Are you ready to let go of whatever safety and security you derive from beating yourself up, in order to experience the freedom of NOT doing it?
Mindful Writing Coach | Award-winning Wellness Author, “Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink”
Awareness is the first step
To stop that vicious internal voice from taking out the proverbial baseball bat and hitting you over the head, you first need to be aware it’s happening. A simple mindfulness exercise can help.
For some people, the “underground” negative voice shows up as procrastination. For others, it appears as a brain fog or confused mind.
When a person experiences any of these slowdowns, pausing long enough to feel what’s going on in the body can bring the voices to consciousness. Five minutes of noticing where the sluggishness arises may allow the thoughts to surface. Then, other techniques can work.
Turning your mind into an ally
Once you are aware of the berating voice, acknowledge it and get curious. At first, your emotions might be too “hot” for you to take a neutral stance, but questioning transforms the negative thoughts. Ask “Are you sure this is true?” or “Why do you think that?” Listen for the answers, but only long enough to center yourself.
Once you have calmed a bit, thank the voice. The reptilian part of the mind, a part beyond logic, thinks it is helping you by generating these thoughts.
Speak to it as if it were a frightened child. Tell it you are grateful it wants to protect you. Then, ask if it will give you time to work things out on your own. Reassure it that you are aware of the (perceived) danger. Tell it you have a plan. Give your body a minute to settle. Then, move forward.
It may take a few times of gently “proving” to that part of your brain that you’re in charge, but it will take note and let you work. When it does, thank it for being part of the team.
Founder, Socially Scared
One of the best ways to stop beating yourself up is to look at your life, and your past experiences, as one big experiment.
The goal is to test a hypothesis using various methods. And often, it’s necessary to make mistakes—-and even have failures—-because it allows you to collect important data. You can use that data to re-tool and try another method in the hope of getting a different outcome.
That’s very much how I look at life. I think we tend to beat ourselves up over things we did in the past and cannot change. Other times, it’s the regret that’s killing us inside, and we beat ourselves up over what we didn’t do. If we can just shift our perspective a little, and rather than seeing our failures as an example of our inability to prosper, we should look at our past stumbles as being crucial steps towards our inevitable success.
Become the scientist of your life
When you look at your life, I think you should treat your past experiences like a scientist would treat his or her latest experiment.
What went wrong? Why was the outcome unfavorable? What mistakes were made? Don’t beat yourself up over it—-simply log it down.
Now, ask yourself the following questions:
What can you do in the future to prevent this outcome from occurring again? Is it a small change that you can make in your daily life–like cutting certain foods from your diet? Is it a bigger change that requires more time and commitment-—like learning a new skill or cutting toxic people out of your life?
Dust yourself off and try again
The truth is, you don’t need to have the right answer. That’s the beauty of an experiment—-you can test different ideas and see how they change the outcome.
So in order for you to have a better, happier future, you should look at your past experiences, see what didn’t work, and simply decide to make one change that might benefit you going forward.
Whether that’s related to your relationships, diet, self-confidence, or career ambition. If implementing that change doesn’t work, don’t get upset—-simply implement a NEW idea into your approach.
Learn from your past, tweak and change things for your future.
Overall, don’t look at your past experiences as justification to live in a negative frame of mind. Instead, use your past experiences as a tool to pivot your behavior and action going forward. The goal of your personal experiment should be to live a life of success and happiness. The failures of your past are merely the building blocks you need to get there.
Certified Sleep Science Coach, Sleep Standards
How many times have we lost sleep because of a mistake we made? We become anxious and unable to focus on our daily lives. As a mental health expert, there are advantages to your health if you stop beating yourself up.
Here are 5 tips to stop beating yourself up:
Acknowledge your mistake
Identify the circumstances that lead you to commit that mistake. Admitting that you did something wrong could give you more control over the situation. Being aware of your weaknesses can help you with a better plan in the future.
Be kind to yourself
Give yourself time to recuperate from the feelings of frustration and disappointment. Do things that will help you stop putting yourself down. Learn to focus on your strengths. Appreciate your achievements.
Whenever you find yourself overthinking about your past mistakes, turn your attention to other areas that might need improvement. Take up a new hobby, or enroll in a course you’ve always wanted to take. Being productive helps keep you busy, it’s also a great way to identify skills or talents that you might not be aware of.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not doing anybody a favor. Everybody has their pace, and if it takes you a long time to get there, it doesn’t matter as long as you’ve reached your goals. There is always someone who’s going to be better at some things, but that also means you’ll be more skillful than they are.
Let it go
Past mistakes belong in the past. There is nothing you can do about them except move on. Mistakes are a part of life, and the best thing to do is learn from them. Dwelling on the past will not help you deal with the future.
Christian de la Huerta
Personal Transformation Coach | Author, “Awakening the Soul of Power”
I know self-hatred. My adolescence was one long depression with occasional suicidal thoughts. These days, no matter what happens—a relationship works out or it doesn’t; a project succeeds or implodes—I never question my self-worth or plummet into self-doubt. I stopped beating myself up decades ago.
The key is developing self-worth and understanding how the mind works—including the many ways it limits and sabotages us. Once we are able to start separating ourselves from the harsh inner critic that lives inside our heads, freedom becomes possible.
Once we discover and become established in our personal power, we stop selling out on our dreams and desires and free ourselves from self-sabotaging behaviors. We learn to heal toxic relationship patterns and negotiate power struggles more effectively. We can have the lives and relationships we long for and deserve to have.
Marketing Director, Our Good Living Formula
Give yourself permission to celebrate your little wins
Allow yourself to be happy for the small wins you achieve every single day. Whether it’s as simple as finishing your to-do list or finally finding time to work out, give yourself a pat on the back for completing these simple tasks. When you have a big goal, map it out into doable chunks and celebrate each step that you take.
Don’t dwell on your mistakes, instead look at them as opportunities for improvement.
If you see how lucky and blessed you are in life, you won’t beat yourself up too much. Sometimes it may feel like everything is going wrong, but there’s still always something to be thankful for.
Being alive and healthy is a blessing in itself, as well as having food to eat, living in a warm home, or having a cute pet to take care of – these are some things we might be taking for granted because they’re there every day. But when we just stop and be grateful for these things, it does put everything else in perspective.
Career Development Manager, VelvetJobs
Practice positive self-talk, forgive yourself and refrain from comparing yourself to others
In my line of work, I normally come across people that are beating themselves up over a mistake they made, or are constantly berating themselves. This affects their confidence, which in turn, affects the quality of work they produce. If you are constantly beating yourself up over something you did/didn’t do, first focus on forgiving yourself for any of your misgivings.
Secondly, make a deliberate effort to only use positive self-talk, and to practice kindness towards yourself. You should also cease comparing yourself to others because it only serves to destroy your self esteem.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does “beating yourself up” mean?
“Beating yourself up” is a phrase used to describe when someone is overly critical and harsh towards themselves, often as a result of perceived mistakes or failures. This type of self-criticism can have serious consequences, leading to low self-esteem, negative self-talk, and even depression.
It’s important to understand that beating yourself up is a harmful habit that doesn’t help us grow or improve. Instead, it can hold us back from reaching our full potential and achieving our goals.
Why do people beat themselves up?
• Perfectionism: High standards and a desire for perfection can lead to self-criticism when things don’t go as planned or when mistakes are made.
• Childhood conditioning: If someone was raised in an environment where they were frequently criticized or punished for their mistakes, they might have developed a habit of beating themselves up to avoid criticism from others.
• Lack of self-worth: People who struggle with low self-esteem and a negative self-image may be more likely to beat themselves up, as they feel that they are not good enough and don’t deserve to be treated kindly.
• Traumatic experiences: Traumatic experiences such as abuse, neglect, or loss can leave deep emotional scars and can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame.
• Comparison to others: Constantly comparing ourselves to others, especially on social media, can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-criticism.
• High stress and pressure: High levels of stress and pressure can cause people to become overly critical of themselves, especially when they feel like they do not measure up to their own standards or the standards of others.
Does beating yourself up make you stronger?
Beating yourself up, in the sense of being overly critical or harsh on yourself, does not typically make you stronger. In fact, it can have the opposite effect, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and negative self-perceptions, which may hinder personal growth and development.
However, if you interpret “beating yourself up” as challenging yourself or pushing your limits, it can lead to personal growth and make you stronger. You can build resilience and develop new skills by setting ambitious goals, taking calculated risks, and learning from mistakes.
It is essential to maintain a healthy balance between challenging yourself and practicing self-compassion. This means acknowledging your weaknesses and limitations, learning from your experiences, and focusing on self-improvement without excessive self-criticism.
How does beating yourself up affect mental health?
Beating yourself up can have a significant negative impact on your mental health. It can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
Over time, constant self-criticism can develop into a habit that reinforces a negative self-image and may prevent you from taking risks or embracing opportunities. This can create a vicious cycle, making it difficult to break free from the pattern of self-deprecation and limiting your overall well-being and personal growth.
What are some common examples of self-criticism?
Self-criticism can manifest in various ways, and it’s important to recognize common examples to address them effectively. Some typical forms of self-criticism include:
• Perfectionism: Holding yourself to unrealistic standards and expecting everything you do to be perfect can be a significant source of self-criticism. This can manifest in statements like, “If it’s not perfect, it’s not worth doing,” which can hold you back from pursuing your goals.
• Comparing yourself to others: Measuring your worth by comparing yourself to others can be incredibly damaging. Thoughts like, “I’ll never be as successful as they are,” can make you feel inadequate and undermine your self-esteem.
• Dwelling on past mistakes: Continuously replaying past mistakes in your mind and thinking about what you “should” have done can lead to excessive self-criticism. Remember, everyone makes mistakes, and it’s essential to learn from them and move forward.
• Disqualifying the positive: This involves dismissing your accomplishments and focusing solely on your shortcomings. Thoughts like, “I got lucky,” or, “It wasn’t that big of a deal,” can prevent you from acknowledging and celebrating your achievements.
• Negative self-labeling: Using harsh words to describe yourself, such as “loser,” “failure,” or “incompetent,” can significantly harm your self-image and reinforce feelings of inadequacy.
• Magnifying minor flaws: Focusing on small imperfections or errors, and treating them as significant failures, can lead to excessive self-criticism. Remind yourself that nobody is perfect, and small mistakes are a natural part of life.
• Catastrophizing: This involves assuming the worst possible outcome in any situation, often leading to thoughts like, “If I fail at this, my whole life will be ruined.” Catastrophizing can make taking risks or trying new things difficult, limiting your personal growth.
How can I recognize when I’m beating myself up?
Recognizing when you’re beating yourself up is an essential step toward breaking the cycle of self-criticism. Here are some signs that can help you identify when you’re being too hard on yourself:
• Negative self-talk: Pay attention to your inner dialogue. If you notice that you’re frequently using harsh words, focusing on your flaws, or putting yourself down, you might be beating yourself up.
• Disproportionate emotions: If you find yourself feeling overly upset, guilty, or ashamed about minor setbacks or mistakes, it could be a sign that you’re being too hard on yourself.
• Perfectionism: When you set unrealistic expectations for yourself and feel disappointed or frustrated when you don’t meet those standards, it’s a sign that you’re beating yourself up.
• Difficulty accepting compliments: If you struggle to accept praise or feel the need to downplay your achievements, you may be engaging in self-critical behavior.
• Constant comparison: If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate as a result, it’s an indication that you’re beating yourself up.
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