For much of my life, I was the queen of beating myself up. I couldn’t seem to stop beating myself up and being hard on myself.
When I started working with a personal life coach back in 2006, one of the first things my coach pointed out to me, was that I was really hard on myself. As in really hard – I was your own worst enemy hard. I couldn’t stop beating myself up for my mistakes (perceived or actual). I would beat myself up for my thoughts and actions. As soon as something went wrong or didn’t turn out the way I wanted or expected it to, I would beat myself up about it and take all the blame on myself (even if it wasn’t my fault).
After years of this toxic behavior, I was struggling to stop. Unfortunately, beating myself up had turned into my default way of thinking. It had turned into a soul-crushing habit.
Eventually, I got sick of being mean to myself. I got sick of emotionally torturing myself. I wanted to change.
The truth was that constantly being hard on myself was holding me back from what I wanted to achieve in life. Beating myself up was taking more time and energy than actually getting in and completing the work it took to achieve my goals.
Thankfully with my coach’s help as well as constant work on my personal growth, I improved remarkably.
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Let’s dive into how to stop beating yourself up.
Reflect on how it all started
I think it’s important to take a moment to reflect on why and possibly even when you started beating yourself up.
For this exercise, it’s important that you don’t get bogged down in the cycle of blaming. This isn’t about blame.
This is about healing.
It’s about changing habits and moving forward in your life.
I know for myself personally, I grew up with one critical parent and an emotionally distant one. I was either being criticized or ignored, which left a mark on me. I’m not sure what age I was but somewhere along the line, I started criticizing myself.
Just to reiterate, this isn’t about blame. I know my parents did their best and I know they loved me. As an adult, it is my responsibility to heal any wound I might be carrying from childhood.
If you experienced a childhood full of abuse, physical or emotional, please make sure you reach out to a trained professional for help. Reaching out to counselors and reading high-quality self-help books has been an important part of my healing process. Over the years I have worked with personal coaches, counselors, and psychologists at different times to help me get through hard times in my life. There is no shame in reaching out for help. In fact, it’s a sign of strength.
Make the decision to stop beating yourself up
You have to make the decision to stop beating yourself up and being so hard on yourself. You have to make the decision to be kinder to yourself.
It all starts with making this decision for yourself and for your future.
Once you have made the decision to finally turn your life around, then you need to make a pact with yourself to deliver on that promise.
Here are some of my favorite books on building your self-esteem and self-worth. I have read all of these books and often refer back to them when I am struggling with a difficult situation or need a mental pick me up (and a reminder to stop being so hard on myself) –
- How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen
- Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?: Everyday Tools for Life’s Ups and Downs by Andrea Owen
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
- The Mountain is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage into Self-Mastery by Brianna Wiest
If you have exposed yourself to a lot of beating yourself up in the past, it might take a while before you even realize exactly what you’ve been doing to yourself and how often you actually do it.
Beating yourself up can become a habit. A toxic habit but a habit nonetheless. Sometimes, we don’t even recognize what we are doing to ourselves. We just feel our self-esteem and self-confidence slowly slipping away.
A key step is awareness. You have to be aware of your bad behavior before you can stop it.
Related post – How to Be More Self-Aware and Why It’s Important
Stop the name-calling
One of the first things to look at is name-calling. Specifically, the names you call yourself. Do you have and ‘favorite’ nasty name that you need to stop calling yourself?
I can’t believe that sometimes I used to call myself a stupid b*tch! I would either think it or sometimes even say it out loud to myself. It was so incredibly disrespectful and mean.
Another one of my torture devices was calling myself unlovable. This one was a lot more subtle. It’s not like I was calling myself this out loud, but it was this insidious inner voice in the back of my head, rising up every time a relationship hit a snag or someone broke up with me. It was the words I heard in my head when I was fighting with my parents.
Unfortunately, we can often be our own worst bullies.
Stop bullying yourself and stop calling yourself nasty names. When you stop the name-calling, your move your life forward in a powerful way.
Struggling with self-doubt? An excellent online course that can help is How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence by Mel Robbins over at CreativeLive. I took this course myself and got a lot out of it. You can read my review of the course here.
Work on your emotional triggers
We all have emotional triggers. Our triggers may be words and phrases usually from specific people. Or it might be a story that gets told repeatedly that upsets you. It may be actions from others, that trigger negative emotions. Think of triggers as something or someone that can push your buttons.
To work on your emotional triggers, you need to first know what they are.
I wrote a whole post on this topic, so make sure you read – Know Your Emotional Triggers and How to Deal With Them
Learn how to self-soothe
This one is important. To be honest, I am still working on this one myself. Sometimes different challenges (health challenges for instance) can cause us to have to discover new techniques and new ways to self-soothe.
Different situations may require different levels of self-soothing.
Self-soothing is about calming yourself. It’s about keeping your emotions under control (without suppressing them). It’s about getting on top of any stress and anxiety before it spirals out of control and gets on top of you!
Self-soothing will mean different things to different people. You might find a run soothing or embrace a 10-minute meditation or enjoy a massage. It might be about counting to five to calm yourself and taking a few steady breaths to center yourself. It may mean walking away from a hostile situation.
Find out what self-soothing technique works for you and use it regularly.
Be compassionate, patient, and kind to yourself
Show yourself compassion. Be kind to yourself.
I know I have written this a few times on this website but sometimes I think we fail to grasp what it really means to be kind to ourselves. We have to extend the same kindness that we extend to loved ones to ourselves. We have to speak lovingly to ourselves and treat ourselves with respect.
Accept that you will still have negative thoughts
Everyone has negative thoughts. It’s what we do with those thoughts that matters.
Trying to stop negative thoughts altogether is not possible. What we are aiming for is to not be directing our negative thoughts at ourselves (or others for that matter, but that is a totally different post). You will make mistakes and you will have negative thoughts about it. The key is processing those thoughts and moving forward.
Understand you will have setbacks
A setback (where you beat yourself up) doesn’t mean that you have failed. It does not mean you are a failure.
It’s not the end of the world when you have a setback. I know it can sometimes feel like that at the time but it isn’t!
The first thing to remember when you have a setback in your stop beating yourself up mission is to NOT beat yourself up about it! It may be your first instinct to be hard on yourself for the slip, so if that happens show yourself some compassion.
Years ago, I was doing well until I got fired from my job for no reason. I was shocked and devastated. Suddenly I was faced with an avalanche of uncertainty and self-doubt. The beating myself up monster raised its ugly head BIG TIME. It took 8 months to find another job. During that time, I had to constantly remind myself that I was worthy. Job hunting and the constant rejection that can come with it can rock your self-esteem if you let it.
You need to have self-soothing strategies in place for when setbacks strike.
Don’t blow your mistakes out of proportion
While we are on the topic of mistakes, it’s important that when you do make mistakes you don’t blow them out of proportion.
If you are prone to beating yourself up, you are probably also prone to blowing things out of proportion. I know this was one of the mistakes I made back in the beating myself up days. I would stress about every little mistake (or what I perceived to be a mistake) and make my mistakes bigger than they really were.
Use the stop technique
I used this technique the other day when I felt myself obsessing about something.
One of my friends is going through a hard time and she has been confiding in me regarding the drama going on in her life. There has been an endless stream of drama. It has been incredibly draining being her support system (when I was struggling with some chronic health issues myself). On days when I should be focusing on my own health, I would instead be obsessing over my friend’s situation.
Then I remembered the stop technique that I had used successfully in the past. It’s a very basic technique but it works for me. When I pick up that I am obsessing, I say the words stop, stop, stop out loud to myself. I say it really fast (to the point that it sounds so silly, it actually makes me laugh out loud to myself).
As I said, it’s very basic. For you, it doesn’t have to be this particular word. It might even be a part of a song. For me, it works because it acts as a disruptor to my thoughts and makes me commit to thinking about something else.
I always follow the stop technique with focusing back on my priorities for the day and getting back to working on them or thinking about them (if I am not in a position to work on them at that moment).
It’s important to point out that this is not about suppressing your emotions. Strong emotions need to be processed but those fleeting, unimportant, silly, trivial, garbage thoughts that run like an endless river through our minds, don’t need to be. Sometimes we allow a fleeting thought to totally derail our day. Those thoughts are the ones I use the stop technique on.
Work on improving your self-worth
This is the key way that I stopped beating myself up. I worked on improving my self-worth. I worked on knowing my worth and believing in myself (even when I make mistakes or fail at something and struggle).
My personal growth is important to me and I take it seriously. I also try to have fun with it as much as possible. 🙂
Related posts that can help improve your self-worth –
- 10 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Self-Worth and Self-Esteem
- 10 Ways High Self-Esteem and Self-Worth Have a Hugh Impact on Your Life
- 12 Important Things to Remember When You Feel Not Good Enough
Focus on your priorities
To move our lives forward, we need to focus on our priorities. We need to have goals and a plan in place to achieve them.
Self-loathing distracts us from our goals.
As I mentioned earlier, beating ourselves up takes a lot of mental energy. That mental energy could be best used on something that actually matters to you. Stop beating yourself up, use your energy more wisely, and focus back on what’s important.
Stop beating yourself up
It’s time to stop being so hard on yourself. It’s time to stop beating yourself up. Instead, get serious about focusing on your priorities and goals and doing what makes you happy.
Work on your self-worth, enjoy your life, and look forward to the exciting opportunities and moments that lie ahead.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends (particularly the ones who can be brutally hard on themselves). 🙂
Read Next – 12 Ways to Show Up for Yourself