Maybe you’ve been forgiven by someone you hurt, but you can’t stop beating yourself up. Maybe you believe God forgives other people’s mistakes and failures, but you just don’t know how to stop being so hard on yourself.
Maybe you can’t forgive yourself, even after searching for tips for letting go of the past. Maybe you’ve even read one of my articles on self-forgiveness, such as 7 Practical Ways to Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes…and yet you just can’t stop beating yourself up for the terrible thing you did.
You are not alone. No matter what you did wrong, bad or poorly, you’ll find comfort and help here! These tips on how to stop being so hard on yourself are inspired my one of my “She Blossoms” readers. She asked for help dealing with an awkward encounter with a family friend at a funeral. She believes she hurt his feelings by saying and doing the wrong things, and she’s been beating herself up ever since.
One of the most important things to know is yourself. Are you prone to beating yourself up, being hard on yourself, and not forgiving yourself for your mistakes and failures?
Knowing yourself is important because it will help you discern the difference between:
- Actually being wrong (or guilty) in a situation
- Making a mistake
- Allowing yourself to be deceived into self-loathing and self-centeredness, so you don’t share your goodness, peace, light and joy with the world.
My tips will clarify those three things, and help you move forward without being burdened by the past.
5 Ways to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
These five “Blossom Tips” are divided into categories (Spirit, Heart, Soul, Body, and Brain), to give you a variety of ideas on how to stop being so hard on yourself. Find the ones that resonate with you, and let the rest go.
1. Spirit – Accept your mistake, failure or weakness
Yesterday morning I was obsessing about several things I said to a friend the night before. Did I overstep my boundaries or hurt her feelings? Sometimes my opinions and exuberance can get the better of me. I was also struggling with the notion that perhaps I was too hard on my husband. But the truth is that I know deep down that I didn’t really make any serious mistakes that night. I didn’t damage or harm anyone, even if I spoke too much or overstepped my boundaries. I’ve learned to recognize when I make serious errors, versus when I say silly things that others simply shrug off.
What did you do? Take time to reflect on it not just from your perspective, but the other person’s. Did you genuinely do something hurtful or offensive? If so, you need to learn how to apologize and make amends when you’re wrong. Allow yourself to be human, to make mistakes and let them go. Don’t let them fester and suffocate your spirit.
While I was beating myself up for the other night, I was also listening to a sermon about resting in God. I heard the pastor talk about trusting that God will redeem our mistakes and make our wrongs right. When Jesus said, “It is finished” on the cross, He wasn’t just referring to His death. He was talking about the end of our need to be hard on ourselves, to hate ourselves, and to beat ourselves up for past mistakes, awkward moments and difficult conversations.
If you’re a Christian, you know that God works through and in us, even when we’re at our worst. Receive, accept, and rest in that.
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2. Heart – Learn your own patterns
I grew up beating myself up. I never needed punishment for breaking my mom’s rules, hurting others or making mistakes because I spent years being hard on myself for infractions I committed long ago.
Do you tend to be hard on yourself for big and little things? I suspect so.
Take time to learn where that comes from. Were your parents hard on you growing up? Are you hard on your loved ones, pets, and coworkers? Getting to the root of your self-loathing will help you heal.
3. Soul – Practice making mistakes in front of others
My most creative tip on how to stop being so hard on yourself is to create imperfect stuff that expresses your most imperfect self! And share it with others.
For instance, look at my “She Blossoms” character, Blossy. I’m just starting to draw her, and I’m not very good. I wish I was skilled artist but it’s taking a long time to learn. I refuse to beat myself up for imperfect or ungreat work because I’m sharing my heart with joy and reckless abandon. And my authenticity and transparency is helping me learn how to accept myself without worrying about what people think. I’m Blossoming — and I’m here to help you Blossom, too.
Let yourself make mistakes. Allow yourself to be awkward, imperfect, human. Maybe you did something you regret or are even ashamed of yesterday…but that was yesterday. Learn from it, and move on.
4. Body – Feel how self-loathing suffocates your spirit
The longer you wrestle with regret, self-hatred and self-loathing, the less effective you are in this world. The deeper into self hatred you go, the less powerful you are. You can feel it in your body, can’t you? The heavy dark weight of beating yourself up will kill your soul and spirit. The deceiver wants you to be ineffective and dead. The father of lies wants you to stay beaten and defeated, to have no energy or life.
You must learn how to feel lightness, love and freedom — and how to maintain that feeling when the self-flagellation returns. Learning how to stop being so hard on yourself is a practice, a process that takes time. Forgiveness. Insight. Healing.
Practice the art of being gentle and kind with yourself. Feel the physical lightness. Take a deep breath, and decide that now is the time to learn how to stop beating yourself up. Feel how light and spacious it is to let go!
5. Brain – Decide it’s time to stop focusing on yourself
If you truly want to learn how to stop being hard on yourself, you need to look at your behavior and try to see yourself objectively. Stop and think about your past choices and patterns. You might consider asking a trusted friend for insight and wisdom, because it’s hard to see ourselves as we really are.
Get help. Counseling worked for me — but the tipping point was replacing my self-obsession and self-focus with God’s image of me. My old self died when I accepted Jesus. If you don’t know what I’m talking about — or He can help you stop being so hard on yourself — ask me in the comments section below.
After you’ve met and faced yourself, after you’ve started the road to healing, stop thinking about yourself all the time. You matter and your actions make a difference…but your choices today matter more than your past. Learn from what you did and didn’t do. Then let it go. It is finished.
No matter how old and wise we get, we’ll always make mistakes and face failures. I think God does this on purpose, to keep us looking to Him for love, forgiveness and redemption. Take heart! Take a deep breath. Rest, receive, and be still. You are known and loved by a power greater than any human on earth, and you have access to a spirit stronger than any force in the universe.
What do you think about my tips on how to stop being so hard on yourself? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below! I read every comment, but don’t worry: I won’t give advice or tell you what to do. It’s your turn to talk.
Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books
Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.
How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.
When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.