How to stop being hard on yourself

If you’re a high achiever, you may tend toward perfectionism and competitiveness. You hold yourself to high standards and accept nothing less than what you know you can achieve. This inner drive is often a good thing, but it can lead you to be too hard on yourself. 

On the flip side, many people live with self-doubt and fear that stems from their childhood experiences. You don’t have to be over-confident all the time, but being too hard on yourself will hold you back.

Both of these personality types are prone to anxiety and negative self-talk. If you find that you’re constantly putting yourself down and wondering “Why am I so hard on myself?” it’s time to build your confidence and take back control of your thoughts. 

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Why am I so hard on myself?

Our beliefs create our world. Yet beliefs are not equal to facts. Our beliefs are formed through our own interpretation of five areas: environment, past events, past results, current knowledge and future vision. When it comes to being hard on yourself, past events and experiences, especially in childhood, are the most powerful influence on our beliefs.

External experiences

Children tend to cope with their experiences by internalizing them – blaming themselves for what’s going on around them. If you grew up with parents who fought constantly or in an unstable household, you may be hard on yourself because you blame yourself for things that were out of your control.


Similarly, you might have had a parent who criticized you constantly or blamed you for their own faults. There may have been an adult in your life who made you feel embarrassed or guilty. Even our siblings can cause us to feel ashamed, whether they mean to or not.


If you grew up in a home where you always had to bring home As and keep your room spotless, you probably have feelings of perfectionism that cause you to be hard on yourself. A parent who was distant or unaffectionate can cause us to feel undeserving – and yet crave affection more than anything.

You may not even remember the experiences that led you to be so hard on yourself. The important thing is to realize that you’ve been conditioned by your past – but you don’t have to let it control your future.

How to stop being hard on yourself

It’s easy to get used to living your life in a state of fear and doubt. It can even become normal – we start to think that this is who we really are. But you can learn to stop being hard on yourself.

Change your limiting beliefs

All of our experiences shape the value that we put on each of the six human needs: certainty, variety, significance, love/connection, growth and contribution. Negative childhood experiences often leave people with a strong need for significance or love and connection, because they didn’t receive these growing up. Yet they also leave people with limiting beliefs.

Common limiting beliefs are that we’re not worthy of love, not strong enough to face failure or that we don’t deserve the life we want. You may think to yourself that you’ve always been overweight, or bad at sports, or unlucky. We use our past experiences to reinforce this negative perception of ourselves.

Living with limiting beliefs is like driving with the emergency brake on. You won’t get very far – and you definitely won’t reach your full potential. Identify your negative belief systems and replace them with empowering beliefs that lift you up instead of holding you back.

Transform your self-talk 

why are you hard on yourself

When was the last time you listened to your inner monologue? Living in your own head is dangerous, especially if you are always too hard on yourself. You probably have a habit of negative thoughts, an untrustworthy brain that’s filled with saboteurs and self-doubt. 

According to Shirzad Chamine, author of Positive Intelligence, saboteurs are the parts of our personality that create negative self-talk. The Hyper-Achiever saboteur causes thoughts like, “If I can’t be the best, I don’t deserve anything.” The Judge may keep bringing up past mistakes. The Victim causes you to wallow in negative feelings.

Once you’ve identified these belief and thought patterns, you can transform your self-talk and start thinking positive. Catch harmful thoughts as they occur and replace them with optimism and confidence. It may feel awkward at first, but soon you’ll find the negative thoughts are gone.

Discover your blueprint

Another useful exercise to answer the question “Why am I so hard on myself?” is what Tony calls creating your blueprint. This will show you how to determine and apply your values to every area of your life.

First, what’s an area of your life you’re happy with, and why? Be specific. Maybe you’re happy with your career because you just got a promotion. Maybe you’re in a fulfilling relationship that is a true meeting of the souls. Then ask, what’s an area of your life you’re not happy with, and why? This is most likely the area in which you’re being so hard on yourself.

Now, realize that whenever you’re happy with an area of your life, it’s because it matches your blueprint – your belief about how life needs to be in that area. If you’re not happy with a certain area, determine what would make you happy, set goals and start achieving them!

Still wondering, “Why am I so hard on myself?”

A Tony Robbins Results Coach can help you uncover your limiting beliefs, change your self-talk and begin to live as your true, confident self.