Are you hard on yourself? Do you think this is a good thing? Do you believe this motivates you to do better? Think again. If you are doing well, it’s likely in spite of being hard on yourself, not because of it.
Many of us grew up with parents and teachers who believed that being hard on us was the way to motivate us. As children, we absorbed their judgments of us and became strict taskmasters with ourselves.
Are you aware of the negative consequences of being hard on yourself?
1. Anxiety and/or depression
In my practice with my clients, I find that much anxiety and depression comes directly from self-judgment. Your feeling self is your inner child, so when you are hard on yourself with your self-judgments, your inner child feels rejected and abandoned by you, which often leads to anxiety and depression.
2. Procrastination and resistance
Most of us hate to be controlled, so when one part of us – our authoritarian ego wounded self – is harsh and judgmental, telling ourselves what we ‘should’ do and ‘have to’ do, another wounded part often goes into resistance. This creates an inner power struggle than can lead to immobilization or “stuckness.” The result might be that you find yourself procrastinating rather than being productive.
3. Blocked creativity
Creativity flows when we are open and connected with our higher self/higher power, which we cut ourselves off from when we are harsh with ourselves. We can easily connect with our source of creativity when we are relaxed and open, which doesn’t happen when we are judging ourselves.
4. Insecurity, low self-worth
Just as children need love to feel lovable, so does your inner child. While you might believe that your sense of security and self-worth are determined by your accomplishments and others’ approval, this isn’t true. Your sense of self-worth is directly related to how you treat yourself. The more loving you are with yourself, the better you feel about yourself. Conversely, the more judgmental you are of yourself, the worse you feel about yourself – regardless of how much approval you get from others or how much you accomplish.
If you often find yourself angry at others, this may be a projection of your inner child’s anger at you for being so hard on yourself.
6. Relationship problems
When we judge ourselves, then we have a tendency to judge others as well. Being hard on your partner does not generate loving feelings between you. The more you learn to love and value yourself, rather than abandon yourself with your self-judgments, the easier time you will have loving your partner. In addition, your self-judgments might lead to you feeling needy, causing you to pull on your partner for the love that you are not giving to yourself.
7. Inner emptiness
Inner emptiness is a sign that love is lacking inside. We feel full and peaceful inside when we are loving ourselves – not when we are abandoning ourselves by being harsh and judgmental with ourselves. Love fills us when our heart is open – which happens when we are open to learning about loving ourselves – but our heart closes up when we are trying to control ourselves with our harsh self-judgments.
8. Substance abuse and process addictions
When you feel empty inside and you haven’t learned how to fill yourself with love, you might turn to food, alcohol, drugs, TV, gambling, sex, porn, shopping, spending and so on to try to fill the inner emptiness. While you might feel full for the moment, the inner emptiness returns once you are again hard on yourself. These addictions are a poor substitute for love, which is what you are really needing.
9. Neediness, love addiction and loneliness
When you rob yourself of love through your self-judgments, then, as I stated above, you become needy of love and easily attach to someone else to try to get it from them. Generally, others don’t want responsibility for making you feel okay about yourself, so the needier you are and the more you pull on others for love, the more they back off. This leads to much loneliness. What heals loneliness is the sharing of love, but you can’t share love when you have no love inside to share.
If you believe that being hard on yourself is helping you, you might want to re-evaluate your belief.