Quit Being Too Hard On Yourself

It goes without saying “We’re all our own worst critics.” Recently, I led a film discussion with a group which required us to show the class a short clip and affiliate a discussion with questions we had prepared in advance. Following the discussion, my professor pulled my group into a private breakout room to discuss what we had learned about this assignment. I indicated it was important to listen attentively, but at one point I was so concerned about my response I actually lost track of what a participant was saying; to which my professor’s response to this was “Don’t be so hard on yourself”. That statement stuck with me the entire evening. I didn’t quite understand why I was so quick to be critical, especially because the feedback I had gotten was quite positive. Aside from applauding myself for the things I had done well, I was quick to first point out all the things I could have done better. Being critical is ok, in fact it means we are self-aware of the areas we are lacking in, but sometimes we become so absorbed in pointing out our flaws that we don’t realize it’s actually weighing us down. Here are 6 ways to quit being hard on yourself and why it’s essential that you should.

  1. 1. Applaud Your Wins 

    When we are hard on ourselves, our minds seem to override any of our accomplishments and immediately zones in on our defeats. As important it is to reflect on the things we can improve on, it’s just as important to give ourselves a pat on the back for the things we’ve done well. Whether you’ve tackled something major like a big work project or something as small as preparing a nutritious breakfast, recognizing our achievements helps us to feel empowered and fulfilled. You are your own cheerleader. No one is truly going to understand your progress more than you. Chances are no one is going to applaud you for those little things like making a healthy breakfast this morning. When we are self-aware of our needs, we know these little things are a tiny step towards long-term goals. Maybe you’re not someone who typically makes an effort to prepare a nutritious breakfast, but now you’re making it a routine to do so because you want to get on track towards a healthier lifestyle. That deserves a celebration! Did you wake up this morning? Did you get your assignment in on time? Did you finish anything that you felt was a challenge? If the answer is yes to any of these, take a moment right now to clap for yourself! You’ve earned it!

    Beyonce  Clapping
  2. 2. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

    I am absolutely guilty of this and I’m sure many of you are too. From my personal experience shared above, I was put with a groupmate I have never interacted with before. To tell the truth, I was somewhat intimidated by her.  She’d always participate, came to class presentable with her hair and make-up done and I just wished I had half the confidence she had. However, when I began to work with her and got to know her better, I learned she had similar doubts and insecurities I have. It goes to show, sometimes we are quick to conclude everyone but us has it all together, but even the most successful people have their downsides too. All in all, comparing ourselves to others makes us feel belittled, when in fact we too are worthy and have so much to offer! Another thing to keep in mind is that life is not a race. Everyone is on a different journey; there’s no set time to have something done and you define what success means to you.

  3. 3. Mistakes Are Part Of Learning 

    Let’s be honest: no one is perfect. No matter how good we are at something, there is always room for error. One thing I have to constantly tell myself is to not be afraid of failure. Having this fear can prevent us from moving forward because we’re so consumed with the idea that we’re going to fail so why should we even bother trying? The beauty of failing is that we can identify the areas we can improve on in order to reach our full potential. Rather than looking at our mistakes as setbacks, we can look at them like the learning experience they truly are. Most of the world’s most successful people wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for failure or rejection. Think of Michael Jordan who got cut from his highschool basketball team or Stephen Spielberg who was rejected twice by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. There can be no success without failure. We are so quick to look at someone’s “big wins” without realizing all the adversities that had to be overcome to get there and all the “little wins” that came along the way. As my elementary teacher would say “Your biggest mistake is never learning from one.”

    Black woman writing at computer desk writing in journal notebook write natural work corporate african
  4. 4. Embrace Your Weakness 

    Having weakness isn’t a bad thing. In fact, being able to identify what your weaknesses are is the first step in investing in areas you can improve on. How many times have you been to a job interview where the interviewer has asked what your weaknesses are? Many of us try to dodge the question because we firmly believe it won’t make ourselves appear to be an ideal candidate. Contrary to belief, it’s quite the opposite! Knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are means that we are attuned with our bodies and are self-aware. This recognition gives us the ability to expand in our career and seek support where needed. Laying our weaknesses out on the table can make us feel vulnerable, but this vulnerability is what makes us relatable and can strengthen our relationships with others. You don’t necessarily have to be good at everything, but identifying things we can work on can help us grow and knowing what we are already good at is a tremendous asset. Think about it like the scenario of a group project: some might be better presenters than others, some might be better at organizing data and so on. A team dynamic allows us to learn from others. Furthermore, assigning roles based on our areas of strength can benefit the whole team and allows everyone to come out successful.

  5. 5. Surround Yourself With People Who Want You To Succeed

    Having an affirmative mindset and working on ourselves as individuals is just as important as having a nurturing environment. Engulf yourself with people who uplift you and push you to be the best version of yourself. When we surround ourselves with people who have a positive outlook, it’s contagious and we’re bound to pick up on their habits too. Our close friends and family know us best and they most certainly want the best for us. You’ll find them there rooting for you along the way and praising you not only for your “big wins” but those little ones too. Most importantly, when we begin to weigh ourselves down, they’ll be there to comfort us and provide us with the inspiration we need to keep going and remind ourselves just how great we are.

    Workout partner
  6. 6. Challenge Your Inner Critic

    If no one has ever told you before, I’m here to tell you your mind is a powerful mechanism. When we are hard on ourselves, we don’t infest our minds with thoughts of self-compassion, rather we self-sabotage. Self-sabotage is mainly driven by negative self-talk and can really affect our self-esteem. The more and more we talk ourselves down, the more and more likely we are to believe these accusations about ourselves to be true. We begin to feel worthless and incapable, which further sets us back from anything we strive to achieve. Instead, be kind to yourself and replace these negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Acknowledge that whatever mistake we had made has passed: learn from it, put it behind you and immerse yourself  with positivity and motivation to keep yourself moving forward. Remember that you are your best friend and you should treat yourself as such.

These are just a couple of ways you can lift yourself up when you begin to start being hard on yourself. Of course, there’s many more ways you can find to limit this habit. Keep in mind, it’s okay and natural for us to be critical so we can learn and grow. However, it is unhealthy when we become consumed in thoughts that can turn out to be self-deprecating. The good thing is that when we realize we are being too hard on ourselves, we can put a halt to it. Being too hard on ourselves can lead us to always feeling dissatisfied, even when we have so much to offer and have already accomplished so much! So be proud of yourself today!!!