Mistakes are a natural part of life. As human beings, we all make mistakes from time to time, and it’s normal to feel bad about them. However, when we beat ourselves up over our mistakes, it can become a bad habit that affects our emotional well-being and physical health.
The first time we make a mistake, it can feel like the end of the world. Our minds instantly think about all the ways that we could have done better and beat ourselves up for not doing so in the first place.
But mistakes are an inevitable part of life, and understanding how to cope with them is essential. One way to do this is to learn from our mistakes and look at them as an opportunity to do better next time.
As the old adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” (source)
Last time can be a chance for us to reflect on what went wrong and determine how we can make changes in order to have a different outcome.
We all make mistakes, so it’s important to learn how to take responsibility for them and move forward in a positive way.
In this article, we will explore why we beat ourselves up, how it affects us, and 10 ways to stop this negative cycle.
Table of Contents
Why Do I Keep Beating Myself Up?
The answer is simple: it’s our inner critic or critical voice. We all have an inner critic that judges us and tells us what we should or shouldn’t do.
This critical voice can come from past painful childhood experiences or social media’s vague expectations, where we are bombarded with messages that we need to be a certain kind of person.
The critical thought that keeps us criticizing ourselves is the idea that we should be perfect. We tend to think that if we make a mistake, we are somehow inadequate or flawed. We might even feel guilty for mistakes we haven’t made yet!
This type of thinking prevents us from being able to learn from our experiences and move forward in a healthy way.
It can also come from family members or close friends who have high standards or imposter syndrome, where we feel like we are not good enough.
This negative self-talk can lead to low self-esteem, emotional well-being problems, and even physical health problems.
How This Affects Your Mood and Physical Health
As I mentioned, when we beat ourselves up, it affects our mood and physical health. We feel negative emotions like guilt, shame, and self-blame.
These negative feelings can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression, which can cause physical health problems like headaches, insomnia, and a weakened nervous system.
So, how do we fight this? Following are methods to fight negative self-talk and improve our overall mental well-being:
10 Ways To Stop Beating Yourself Up
The first thing you can do to stop beating yourself up is to focus on the positive. Instead of dwelling on a bad decision or your past mistakes, spend time reflecting on the good things that went well and what you are proud of.
1. Practice Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is a practice of treating yourself with kindness, care, and understanding, especially when you’re going through a difficult time or making mistakes.
Here are some ways to practice self-compassion:
- Acknowledge your pain: Instead of ignoring or suppressing your emotions, acknowledge and validate your pain. Recognize that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated at times.
- Be mindful: Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Observe your emotions with curiosity and compassion.
- Treat yourself like a friend: Imagine how you would treat a close friend who is going through a similar situation, and offer yourself the same level of care and compassion.
- Practice self-kindness: Be gentle and understanding with yourself. Use kind words and actions when you’re feeling down or making mistakes.
- Recognize your common humanity: Remember that making mistakes and experiencing pain is a part of being human. You’re not alone, and others have gone through similar experiences.
- Reframe negative self-talk: Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive, self-compassionate messages. For example, instead of “I’m such a failure,” say “It’s okay to make mistakes, and I’m doing the best I can.”
- Practice self-care: Take care of your physical and emotional needs. Eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
- Forgive yourself: Let go of self-blame and forgive yourself for past mistakes. Remember that forgiveness is a process, and it takes time.
Remember that practicing self-compassion is a process and requires patience and persistence. Be gentle with yourself and keep practicing, even when it feels challenging. With time, self-compassion will become a natural and essential part of your life.
2. Recognize The Signs Of The Critic
The inner critic is the voice inside our heads that constantly judges and criticizes us. It can cause us to doubt ourselves, feel insecure, and undermine our confidence.
Here are some signs of the critic:
- Negative self-talk: The inner critic often uses negative self-talk, such as “I’m not good enough,” “I always mess up,” or “I’m a failure.”
- Perfectionism: The critic sets impossibly high standards for ourselves and others, and criticizes us when we fall short of these standards.
- Self-doubt: The critic can make us doubt our abilities, decisions, and choices, leading to indecisiveness and hesitation.
- Comparison: The critic compares us to others, often unfavorably, and makes us feel inadequate and inferior.
- Overthinking: The critic can cause us to overthink and ruminate on past mistakes, making it difficult to move on.
- Guilt and shame: The critic can make us feel guilty and ashamed of our mistakes, leading to self-blame and self-punishment.
- Fear of failure: The critic can cause us to fear failure and avoid taking risks, leading to missed opportunities and stagnation.
- Lack of self-compassion: The critic can make us harsh and critical towards ourselves, leading to a lack of self-compassion and self-care.
It’s important to recognize these signs of the critic so that we can take steps to manage it. By becoming aware of our negative self-talk and limiting beliefs, we can challenge and reframe them in a more positive and self-compassionate way.
With practice, we can learn to quiet the critic and cultivate a more supportive and nurturing inner voice.
3. Challenge Critical Thoughts
Challenging critical thoughts is an essential part of overcoming the negative influence of the inner critic.
Here are some tips for challenging critical thoughts:
- Identify the thought: The first step is to become aware of the critical thought and identify what triggered it. Notice the negative self-talk and pay attention to how it affects your mood and behavior.
- Question the thought: Ask yourself if the thought is accurate and supported by evidence. Is there any evidence that contradicts the thought? Can you think of a more balanced or positive perspective?
- Challenge the thought: Once you have identified the critical thought and questioned its accuracy, challenge it directly. For example, if the thought is “I’m not good enough,” challenge it by saying, “That’s not true. I have many skills and qualities that make me valuable.”
- Reframe the thought: Reframe the critical thought in a more positive and self-compassionate way. For example, instead of “I always mess up,” say, “It’s okay to make mistakes. I’m learning and growing from my experiences.”
- Use logic and reason: Use logic and reason to challenge critical thoughts. Ask yourself if the thought is based on fact or just a subjective opinion. Consider alternative explanations or perspectives.
Challenging critical thoughts takes practice and persistence. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, and keep working towards a more positive and supportive inner voice.
4. Get A Different Perspective
Getting a different perspective is a helpful way to challenge and overcome the negative influence of the inner critic.
Here are some tips for gaining a different perspective:
- Seek feedback: Ask for feedback from trusted friends, family members, or colleagues. Getting feedback from others can provide a more balanced and objective perspective.
- Get outside your comfort zone: Try new experiences and activities that challenge your comfort zone. This can help you gain a new perspective and broaden your outlook.
- Read books or watch videos: Read books or watch videos on topics that interest you or that challenge your beliefs. This can help you gain a different perspective and learn new ways of thinking.
- Take a break: Take a break from your routine and do something relaxing, such as taking a walk or meditating. This can help you clear your mind and gain a fresh perspective.
- Write in a journal: Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. This can help you gain a new perspective and see things from a different angle.
- Talk to someone outside your usual circle: Seek out people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives than you. This can help you gain a new perspective and broaden your understanding of the world.
- Practice empathy: Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of their point of view and broaden your own perspective.
Getting a different perspective takes effort and openness to new ideas. Be willing to challenge your own beliefs and be open to learning new things.
5. Learn From Your Mistakes
Learning from your mistakes is a crucial part of personal growth and overcoming the negative influence of the inner critic.
Here are some tips for learning from your mistakes:
- Acknowledge and accept your mistakes: The first step is to acknowledge and accept that you made a mistake. Avoid blaming others or making excuses for your actions. Take responsibility for your mistakes and use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Identify what went wrong: Analyze what led to the mistake and identify what went wrong. Look for patterns or behaviors that contributed to the mistake.
- Reflect on what you could have done differently: Reflect on what you could have done differently and consider alternative actions that may have led to a different outcome. Be open to feedback from others and use it to improve your decision-making in the future.
- Develop a plan for improvement: Use what you’ve learned from your mistakes to develop a plan for improvement. Identify specific actions you can take to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
- Take action: Put your plan into action and take steps to improve. Remember that change takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent in your efforts.
- Celebrate your successes: Recognize and celebrate your successes, no matter how small. This can help you stay motivated and reinforce positive behaviors.
Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s normal to experience failure or setbacks. The key is to use these experiences as opportunities for growth and learning.
6. Let Go Of The Past
Letting go of the past is an essential step towards overcoming the negative influence of the inner critic and achieving emotional well-being.
Here are some tips for letting go of the past:
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you stay present in the moment and avoid getting caught up in negative thoughts about the past. Focus on your breath, your body, and the present moment.
- Accept what you cannot change: Accept that you cannot change the past and focus on what you can control in the present moment. Avoid dwelling on regrets or missed opportunities.
- Practice forgiveness: Forgiveness can help you release negative emotions and let go of the past. This includes forgiving yourself and others for past mistakes or wrongdoings.
- Focus on the present: Focus on the present moment and the positive things in your life. This includes setting realistic goals, practicing self-care, and engaging in activities that bring you joy.
- Practice gratitude: Cultivate a sense of gratitude for the good things in your life. This can help you stay focused on the positive and let go of negative emotions.
Remember, letting go of the past takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and focus on the positive changes you can make in the present.
7. Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals is an important step towards overcoming the negative influence of the inner critic and achieving personal growth. Here are some tips for setting realistic goals:
- Identify your values: Start by identifying your values and what’s important to you. This can help you set goals that align with your values and give you a sense of purpose.
- Make your goals specific: Make your goals specific, measurable, and achievable. Avoid setting goals that are too broad or unrealistic, as this can lead to frustration and self-doubt.
- Break goals down into smaller steps: Break your goals down into smaller, manageable steps. This can help you stay motivated and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Set deadlines: Set deadlines for your goals to help you stay focused and accountable. Avoid setting deadlines that are too tight or unrealistic, as this can lead to stress and anxiety.
- Be flexible: Be open to adjusting your goals as needed. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes circumstances change. Being flexible can help you stay focused on what’s important and adjust your plans accordingly.
Setting realistic goals takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and focus on the progress you’re making toward achieving your goals.
8. Create A New Habit
Creating a new habit is a powerful way to overcome the negative influence of the inner critic and achieve personal growth. Here are some tips for creating a new habit:
- Choose a specific habit: Choose a specific habit you want to develop. Be specific and make sure it’s something that aligns with your values and goals.
- Start small: Start with a small, achievable goal. This can help you build momentum and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Set a reminder: Set a reminder to help you remember to practice your new habit. This can be an alarm on your phone, a post-it note, or anything else that works for you.
- Practice regularly: Practice your new habit regularly, ideally at the same time each day. This can help you establish a routine and make your new habit a part of your daily life.
- Track your progress: Track your progress and celebrate your successes. This can help you stay motivated and reinforce positive behaviors.
- Be patient: Creating a new habit takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and avoid being too hard on yourself if you slip up.
Remember, creating a new habit takes practice and dedication. Be consistent and keep working towards your goal, even if progress is slow at first.
9. Join A Support Group
Joining a support group can be a great way to overcome the negative influence of the inner critic and achieve personal growth. Here are some benefits of joining a support group:
- Emotional support: Support groups offer emotional support from others who are going through similar experiences. This can be comforting and help you feel less alone.
- Accountability: Support groups can provide a sense of accountability, as you have others who are rooting for you and holding you accountable for your goals.
- Different perspectives: In a support group, you’ll have the opportunity to hear different perspectives and approaches to overcoming challenges. This can help you gain new insights and ideas for personal growth.
- Validation: Support groups offer validation, as others in the group may have experienced similar struggles or challenges. This can help you feel understood and accepted.
- Information sharing: Support groups can offer information sharing, as members may share resources, strategies, and other helpful information.
- Motivation: Being a part of a support group can provide motivation and inspiration to keep working towards your goals.
- Sense of community: Joining a support group can help you feel a sense of community and belonging, which can be especially important if you’re feeling isolated or alone.
When looking for a support group, consider the type of group that would be most helpful for you, such as a group focused on a specific issue or challenge. You can also search online for support groups or ask your healthcare provider for recommendations.
Joining a support group is a brave step towards personal growth and can help you overcome the negative influence of the inner critic.
10. Seek Resources
If you’re looking to overcome the negative influence of the inner critic and achieve personal growth, there are many resources available that can help.
Here are some ideas that you can look into:
- Online resources: There are many online resources available that can help you develop self-compassion, challenge negative thoughts, and set realistic goals. You can search for articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos on topics related to personal growth.
- Public libraries: Public libraries often have a wide variety of self-help books and resources available for free. You can search for books on topics such as mindfulness, self-compassion, and personal growth.
- Community events: Look for community events such as workshops or seminars that focus on personal growth. These events may be offered for free or at a low cost.
- Non-profit organizations: There are many non-profit organizations that offer free or low-cost resources for personal growth. Look for organizations that focus on mental health, self-improvement, or personal development.
- Apps: There are many free or low-cost apps available that can help you develop self-compassion, track your progress, and set goals. Look for apps that are specifically designed for personal growth and self-improvement.
Books I Can Recommend
Stop Overthinking: 23 Techniques to Relieve Stress, Stop Negative Spirals, Declutter Your Mind, and Focus on the Present
Let Go of the Guilt
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
These resources are a great way to start your personal growth journey. There are many resources available that can help you overcome the negative influence of the inner critic and become the best version of yourself.
The Bottom Line
Beating yourself up over mistakes is a bad habit that affects your emotional well-being and physical health. However, with conscious effort and the right tools, you can stop this negative cycle and become your best version.
Remember that mistakes are not a big deal, and you can always start again tomorrow. You are capable of real change and becoming a better person.
So, take a step in the right direction, and end each day by acknowledging the great qualities you possess, and free yourself from the bottomless pit of self-criticism.