Are You Hard on Yourself?


Are you often hard on yourself?

Why do you think you choose to be harder on yourself than on others? I notice so many of you (ok, even myself at times) throw your hands up when something goes “wrong” or you steer off your course for a moment or you get a negative result and claim you’ve failed, then continue with the liturgy of failure and “not good enough”. Why don’t you, instead, believe you’re in the process of figuring something out?

The answer is that most of you have been conditioned to believe in the failure rather than in the step that it is towards more clarity. Society has given you more reasons to fear failure than embrace it. Society has given you more reasons to strive for perfection than to see the gifts of imperfection (to steal a phrase from Brené Brown). But since you are a person who is ready for change and seeing your life in a different way, I thought I would reframe the “when things go wrong” dilemma.

Hard on Yourself? Try a New Paradigm

First of all, observing your paradigms or sets of beliefs is important. I’m going to use some of the beliefs Ms. Brown uses in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, to demonstrate.

Old Paradigm New Paradigm
Perfection Worthiness
Numbing Rest
Certainty Play
Exhaustion Trust
Being Cool Faith
Fitting In Intuition
Judgment Authenticity
Scarcity Love
Self-Sufficiency Gratitude

Where do you “live” most of your days? In trying to attain certainty and self-sufficiency, or faith and authenticity? If you find yourself heavy in the left column, then you are likely being  hard on yourself. I would suggest you look at the right column, pick a word a day and see how you could cultivate more of that in your life. For example, let’s say you pick “worthiness”. You practice worthiness by setting out in your day saying to yourself that you are enough right now (not later when I get something done or lose weight!) You have to practice that which you want.

I know that you are pretty aware and doing your best in life. But I also know that many of you trip over the tendency to be perfect. So I’ll say it out loud, “You will never be perfect! There is no such thing!” What I like to say is that I am perfectly imperfect!

What I want you to say right now, out loud, is, “I am good enough!” Now say it again. Simply, you are good enough. So stop forcing things to be just so. Go for excellence, but leave perfection out. Treat your goals and desires as guiding lights rather than distinct destinations. You’ll avoid anxiety and the urge to control.

Which leads me to my next suggestion, which is to let go of who you think you should be and be yourself. If you trade in authenticity for safety, you put yourself at great risk. I’ve seen it many times. You begin to experience blame, shame and then even more severe experiences like anxiety and depression. Being authentic means to author your own stories. Tell the story that you want to tell (and experience).

Be willing to fail and believe in yourself and life, that you can adjust, learn and grow. If I am ashamed of all my failures, I wouldn’t be running my coaching practice. Instead, I keep saying “I’m in the process of growing my business.”

I hope this sheds some light for any of you who have been subtly dancing with perfection. Let it go, pull back the veil, and you’ll witness a sense of potential that you never felt before. A sense of possibility that feels authentic and empowering.

Share if you like it, or leave a comment below and let me know how this lands for you.



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4 thoughts on “Are You Hard on Yourself?”

  1. Loved this article Ellie particularly the part ” treat your goals and desires as guiding lights rather than distinct destinations. You’ll avoid anxiety and the urge to control.” This resonates with me in setting weight loss goals because I get anxious and control the outcome but if I look at them like guiding lights, I can relax and let the process happen if I’m following the plan. Great job, keep it up!

  2. LOVE this, and can so relate! Better Body and Soul is what I am about, that is my website name, which was taken down. my I must rebuild it. I am drawn to a soulful, healthful and spiritual direction.

    I am a musician, nurse, would be wanna- be writer, a composer of songs, and so much more. I am perfectly imperfect! Thank you for this. So helpful.

    I strive for perfection but realized not that long ago that I NEVER will be perfect. Whew! What a relief! Now maybe I can stop expecting others to be perfectly neat, perfectly nice, perfectly everything. I do like to be perfectly neat. I think better that way when things are in place. Plus I told myself I would never be messy like my mother-ha! It happens when I am home, I used to work and never was home to start projects and mess things up! OH BOY. I am striving to go from scattered thoughts (too many, too fast) to write them down and FOCUS.
    I want to achieve more things!! I WILL achieve more things. I must tell my story.

    My brother has written books. He is a journalist, and very successful. I was successful in high school and in my own way, music for fun and a little profit, had a Duo, Dubner and Dunn, did some songwriting (but not published.) Need to finish things! So tired of not finishing things. Gotta pick one thing at a time, maybe and then I can FOCUS.

    Someday, my story will be told. I have started a book. Years ago. Left it. It’s hand written, a mess. Needs organization. Maybe a tape recorder would be easier.

    But do I finish the CD I started first, or at least the recording of my songs that I left months ago. I have so many songs. I HAVE to do this before I die, or they’ll be gone forever. I want my daughter to have them, not just the written words.

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