Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Has anyone ever told you that you are too hard on yourself? Perhaps you think you are too hard on yourself. Otherwise, you would not have decided to read this article.
What It Means to Be Hard on Yourself
If you are too hard on yourself, then you find fault with yourself or with something you are doing. You judge yourself needlessly even when others think you are doing a great job and they do not judge you at all. You criticize yourself unfairly. You have probably been doing it so long that it has become a habit. It happens automatically, and you might not even realize that you are doing it.
There are some obvious signs that you are too hard on yourself that others might have noticed before you have noticed them yourself. If you are too hard on yourself, here is a good piece of advice: Stop being hard on yourself!
One reason some people are hard on themselves is that they are perfectionists. They compare themselves to others and when they believe they fall short, they tend to be hard on themselves. They even measure themselves after their last good deed and blame themselves if they don't surpass what they did the last time.
There is nothing wrong with striving to be all you can be and do all you can do, but when it becomes an obsession, it also becomes unhealthy. Being hard on yourself causes mental and physical stress, and you don't win in the long run.
When you engage in negative self-talk, you use pessimistic language to describe yourself and the things you do. Some common negative self-talk phrases include the following ones:
- "I am not smart enough to ..."
- "I'm too old to ..."
- "I'm not as good as my sister…"
Even when you do something good, you don't celebrate because you talk yourself into believing you could have done it better.
When you are hard on yourself, you blame yourself for things that are not your fault. If there is a traffic jam on the way to work, you pout over the situation because you say you should have left home much earlier, or you should have listened to the report on the radio, or you could have taken an alternate route.
The blame game just keeps going and before you know it, you have worked yourself into stress over something you could not have controlled.
Trouble Sleeping and Bad Dreams
Some people who are constantly too hard on themselves might have trouble falling asleep most nights. When they eventually fall asleep after tossing and turning for hours, they might have bad dreams because of their daytime anxieties.
If you have trouble sleeping and have bad dreams when you do sleep, it could be that you are being too hard on yourself about something during your waking hours. When you go to bed with those things on your mind, they interfere with you having a good night's sleep.
You often feel overwhelmed and disappointed because you don't meet your goals. You don't meet your goals because you set them too high. Then when you don't meet them, you become disappointed and angry.
The best thing to do is to be realistic and set attainable goals. When you do that, you are more likely to reach them and not feel overwhelmed in the process.
How to Stop Being Hard on Yourself
You can stop being hard on yourself and give yourself a break. There are some significant things you can do.
- Cut out the negative self-talk.
- Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk.
- Refuse to dwell on failures long after they are over.
- When things don’t go as you expected, don't blame yourself.
- Start treating yourself as great as you treat others.
- Evaluate why you are in the habit of self-criticism, and break that habit.
Follow the Example of Jesus
In the Bible, Elijah was so critical of himself that he fell into a period of self-pity and asked God to let him die. The prophet suffered a great loss, and God never used him again. Instead, God gave a double portion of Elijah's anointing to Elisha who went on to perform double the number of miracles that Elijah performed (1 Kings 19).
Unlike Elijah and some people today, Jesus NEVER said anything negative about Himself. Disciples of Christ should follow His example and never criticize themselves.