Being Hard on Oneself


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“Mike, I tend to be very hard on myself, I learned somewhere that if I keep pushing myself, I will succeed. When I fail or miss a goal, I am brutal on myself. Do you believe that this kind of behavior is ultimately helpful and I believe that this kind of harsh and relentless treatment of myself has some benefit at least?”

You really need me to answer this question? Do I think that harsh and relentless beating of yourself has some benefit? I suppose if you define benefit as feeling bad about yourself being discouraged, feeling like you’re never good enough. Now, by the same token, if you’re blowing a bunch of sunshine up, if you’re happy, Mary Poppins or Johnny pop and sunshine, then no, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s any more helpful in beating yourself up but a lot of us were raised in an environment where we believe that pushing ourselves, that Knute Rockne, we’re going to beat him on the field. we’re going to beat him on the– you know we’re going to whatever, whoever said that one is going to help us. I don’t really think it does.

Now do I think that saying something like, I think you’re better than this, I think I’m better than this, what can I do next time? That’s not beating myself up, but if I’m like, “You idiot, how could you have been stupid? Come on, man. Suck it up, dude.” That’s not helpful and I know a lot of people out there believe it is but it isn’t. There is absolutely nothing about it that makes your life better. You may think it does, but it really doesn’t. A kinder, gentler treatment of ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t set rigorous goals that we don’t strive to meet things that are difficult for us. It just means that when we fail or fall down, we don’t beat ourselves up.

I mean, would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Probably not. Would you talk to your kids the way you talk to yourself? Not if you don’t want to get arrested for child abuse or neglect. Remember, good strong goals with encouragement and support, but not overshooting the runway in terms of how great you think you are either. All right, hope that’s helpful.

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