Are You Too Hard on Yourself?

by | Nov 28, 2021

Some people find it easy enough to follow the adage, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” They wouldn’t dream of criticizing others for the most part. But when it comes to themselves, they’re not as compassionate. They judge themselves as inadequate and even berate themselves for things they would overlook and easily forgive in others. Oftentimes, these people are perfectionists and set impossibly high standards for themselves. Perhaps they have been brought up to believe they are not worthy of being loved unless they perform perfectly, so they strive for unreasonable excellence. When they inevitably fail, they flail themselves emotionally.

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If you are one of these people who is exceptionally hard on yourself, take a breath. It’s time to consider easing up. Of course, we all know people who are at the opposite end of the spectrum—they’re too easy on themselves. So, how can you be confident you should cut yourself some slack?


  • You play a continuous loop of a mistake in your head. You can’t seem to get over something you’ve done wrong. Even after you’ve made a plan to do better in the future, you keep berating yourself. Try this: Do your best to right the wrong, and then tell yourself to let it go. Think about the fact that you’ve done what you could, and no amount of beating yourself up will make it better.
  • When someone’s mean to you, you think it’s your fault. You scour your brain for a slight you might have inadvertently delivered to this person who hurt you. You imagine you could have done something to inspire this meanness toward you. But the fact is, chances are good that you have done absolutely nothing wrong, and the person inflicting the hurt is having a bad day. Try this: Understand that you can’t know why someone is being mean to you unless you ask them. What is it that makes them say or do that mean thing? Only they know the answer and you are not clairvoyant.
  • You put off self-care because other things take priority. You’ve been meaning to sign up for yoga classes that you know make your body feel better, but you’ve just been too busy with work, kids, etc. You’ve budgeted for a new mattress, but other expenses came up and now you’ve spent years of discomfort on a saggy mattress. The fact is, your priorities take a back seat to everything and everyone else. Try this: Pretend your spouse or best friend suffers discomfort. Wouldn’t you urge them to buy a new mattress? You might even lend them the funds to make sure they get it right away. Resolve to give yourself the care you would wish for your friends.
  • You beat yourself up over tiny mistakes. Your reproach of yourself is out of proportion to the error you made. You know this, but you can’t let go of the perverse desire to wallow in dismay. The fact is, most mistakes you make are relatively inconsequential. The result is, the time you spend worrying about your mistake is more detrimental than the actual mistake itself. Try this: Think about how terrible the mistake will seem in a year or two. Will you even remember it? If not, time to start forgetting and give yourself a break.
  • You’re always the good do-bee. Whatever the task, large or small, you do your very best, because that’s what you’ve been taught. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, right? But doing something right doesn’t mean killing yourself to get it perfect, especially if perfection won’t make a significant difference. Your guests really won’t care if you serve them a lopsided cake or an unjelled cranberry mold. Try this: When you spend excess time and energy going that extra unnecessary mile, remember that that’s time and energy you don’t have to spend on a more worthy project.



Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here:



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