“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” — Brené Brown
We all judge ourselves at times and often don’t even realize we’re doing it. It can feel natural to talk about our day with a wicked inner monologue that sees everything we do as insufficient.
This feeling of “i-am-not-good enough” can become crippling if you let it. We are quick to tell others it would be fine and not to worry but deep down we worry ourselves to death. Judging every minor flaw and inflicting unseen wounds to our psychs in the process. As humans, we are hard-wired to judge ourselves but that does not mean it cannot be controlled or it’s harmful effects reduced to the bare minimum.
It is okay to hold yourself to high standards but that doesn’t mean you’d be perfect. Embracing your imperfection and growing from it is how you got to this point in your life anyway. Learning to show yourself compassion in each moment can help you practice true self-love.
Let’s look at 5 reasons why we are so hard on ourselves and the mindset shifts and practices that we can use to get better
3 Reasons we judge ourselves
Comparison is the thief of joy. If you are not happy now as you try to grow, remember that any achievement you chase would not make you happy too.
Your focus should be on reminding yourself that you can only control your efforts; the outcome is out of your hands, and no matter how it turns out(good or bad) it’s not a reflection on you personally. This is addressed next.
Instead of beating yourself up for not “living your best life,” right now, take the shortcut to happiness and make the best of the life you’re living right now.
This habit comes from a deep-seated need for approval when we succeed, we want to be noticed and when we fail, we are scared that we’d be noticed and that “love” taken away.
We get attached to our deeds – If I failed or made a mistake, it wasn’t because I did something wrong, it was because I was wrong. We don’t feel bad about what we did or didn’t rather we feel ashamed for being the kind of person who screws things up.
These spirals into punishing ourselves to absolve the shame. Behaviors—like binge drinking, lashing out, withdrawing, or any of the learned habits we’ve learned to numb my pain. Then feeling bad about how we reacted when we lashed out or were drunk, then binge eating or drinking again to numb that shame – talk about a feedback loop from hell.
You cannot be good 100% of the time so recognize that “good” people sometimes make “bad” choices or have “bad” moments—and deserve love and empathy, nonetheless.
This happens in relationships we may have with friends, parents, siblings, or even random strangers. Maybe it came for you as a sort of “motivation” where everything you did was not good enough. Maybe your parents compared your every achievement with that of a high-achieving elder brother or younger sister. This “negative pep talk” is used as a way to justify “good” behavior and maintain control. But does it work?
Subtle abuses like this affect you in the long run as you begin to see those views for more than what they are. You use those descriptions to define yourself. There is a saying that goes, “ Give a man a name and he would live up to it”. Now the damage is done but it is up to you to redefine yourself.
You can start by changing the inner voice in your head from the cruel voice of everyone who has criticized YOU, who treated you poorly to the loving voice of everyone who supports you. Those are the deserving voices you deserve to hear—one empathetic response at a time.