How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

Published On: March 6, 2024

As a therapist, I work with a lot of clients that beat themselves up. This presents differently for different people – Some of my clients struggle with negative self-talk or negative core-beliefs about themselves. They may think things like, “I’m a terrible person”, “No one cares about me”, “I am worthless”, or another variation of negative self-talk. Others are quick to discredit all of their accomplishments whenever they have one shortcoming, also known as engaging in all-or-nothing thinking.

I’ve worked with many clients on being kinder to themselves, and I am confident that you can find peace, too. Here are some steps to avoid beating yourself up.

Why Do You Beat Yourself Up?

Understanding why you beat yourself up allows you to mindfully change the way you treat or talk to yourself. In my work with clients, I’ve identified five reasons why people usually take a harsh approach with themselves:

  • They believe this is the most effective way to reach their goals.
  • They have adapted to others in their lives being harsh or aggressive with them.
  • They fear that if they are kinder to themselves, they will not get anything accomplished. 
  • They do not notice their internal self-talk.
  • It feels unnatural to speak kindly to themselves.

Do any of these feel familiar to you? If so, you are not alone. Even if you do not relate to any of the ways I have listed above, creating awareness and understanding behind the way you speak to yourself is crucial. You may create this new awareness and understanding by intentionally allowing yourself time to be curious about this, journaling, engaging in discussions with loved ones, or speaking with a therapist.

Regardless of your reasoning behind beating yourself up, there is hope for you to change your relationship with yourself. 

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

1. Gain Insight as to Why You Beat Yourself Up

As I mentioned before, understanding your reasoning for beating yourself up is a key step in stopping. There are many ways you may approach creating awareness in this area. You may consider being more curious about common themes, what you are saying to yourself, if this is a familiar feeling for you, the outcomes, and your intentions behind beating yourself up. You may either journal, intentionally think, converse with a friend, consult with a therapist, or read about these topics to gain additional insight.

2. Practice Self-Compassion

Many people struggle with negative self-talk, specifically if they’re focused on the outcome of a situation or a specific result. To counteract this, I encourage people to focus on what is in their control, such as their efforts, attempts, and willingness to persevere. One way to redirect your energy towards things in your control is by reminding yourself of your inner worth regardless of outcomes. Understanding, and truly believing, that you hold value regardless of your output is a massive step in healing. 

3. Understand Your Personal Values

Understanding your personal values is very important. If people are not living in alignment with their personal values, they will often experience distress, discomfort, and lack drive. Understanding your personal values helps you to assess where you may integrate these values deeper into your life in order to feel more fulfilled. 

Some ways you may discover your personal values is by journaling, working through a value card sort, or speaking with a therapist to understand common themes or drivers in your life. 

4. Practice Reframing Your Thoughts

Notice whenever you are speaking negatively about yourself, whether internally through self-talk or externally to other people. Creating awareness around situations in which you frequently struggle with negative self-talk will be useful as you continue this journey.

After noticing your negative self-talk, you may begin to reframe your thoughts. There are two main ways to do this: separate yourself from your thoughts or change your thoughts. To separate yourself from your thoughts, you may think, “Oh! I am having the thought that I am worthless again.” This minor change from “I am worthless” to “I am having the thought that I am worthless” creates distance between yourself and your thoughts, and reinforces that you are not your thoughts. Alternatively, you may work to reframe your thoughts. For example, you may think, “I have value here”, or “I am still learning.” After you notice you are thinking that you are worthless. 

5. Compassionate Mindfulness

I encourage people to be compassionately mindful in their daily lives to promote gratitude, appreciation, and resiliency. People who are stuck beating themselves up may also struggle with having a negative mindset in other areas of their lives as well. I find that by being mindful in our day to day, we’re able to reduce feelings of frustration, anxiety, and depression.

Some examples of this include being mindful of our emotional reactions and being curious about the roots of the emotion, being receptive to feedback and engagements from others, and being open to learning new or different things. Staying in the moment allows us to feel grounded and stable, which promotes positive self-talk. 

Another mindfulness strategy that people who beat themselves up find helpful is the Loving-Kindness Meditation. This is a Buddhist practice that promotes friendliness towards ourselves and those around us. Loving-kindness meditations are useful because they can be tailored to your personalized needs, preferences, and experiences.

You begin by getting comfortable and repeating affirmations such as, “May I be happy”, “May I be healthy”, “May I find peace.” You may choose to either say these affirmations out loud or in your mind. The important thing is that you are wishing goodness for yourself. Then, you begin to expand your loving-kindness to those around you. You will do this by replacing “I” to “You” in your phrases, such as, “May you be happy”, “May you be healthy”, “May you find peace.”

Remember: It Takes Time

The process to rebuild our relationship with ourselves can take time. We will often fall back into old patterns, as it is most challenging in the beginning. This process becomes easier over time as our brain is rewired to assess ourselves differently. I encourage you to continue working on your goals, and correct yourself when you are getting off track. I find that our self-relationship is constantly changing, forming, and evolving. Be compassionate with yourself as you’re trying new ways of being. If you are having trouble in this area, I highly recommend consulting with a licensed mental health professional for support.