Why Am I So Hard On Myself? (10 Reasons)

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Do you ever feel like you’re too hard on yourself?

Perhaps you don’t feel good enough, or like you can’t live up to the expectations that you’ve placed on yourself.

You’re not alone.

Many folks struggle with similar problems for a variety of reasons. Still, if you want to find a solution to this problem, it helps to understand the root cause of it.

Here are some of the more common reasons why a person is too hard on themselves.

Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you if you are too hard on yourself. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.

1. You are under social pressure to perform.

Social pressure is a difficult weight to cast off your shoulders. Other people, and even the world at large, are encouraging you to compete, compete, compete to get what you need out of life. Times are challenging for a lot of people in economic and social terms. You may feel you need to be hard on yourself to push yourself to excel, so you get what you want out of life.

Furthermore, others may impose or have imposed unrealistic expectations on you that you can’t possibly live up to. One example is an adult who was overly critical, unsupportive, and made you earn love as a child. They might have told you that you weren’t good enough if you didn’t compete for their affection. That kind of narrative can be internalized and made into a habit that is hard to break as an adult.

2. You’re in competition with everyone else.

Unlike the previous point, some people choose to be in hard competition for the world. A-Type personalities who demand the best may find themselves isolated and alone. It may be that you cannot turn off that competitive drive and desire. When you don’t live up to that high standard that you set for yourself, you may punish yourself for your shortcomings.

Now, if you’re one of these people, you may ask yourself, “Why is this a problem? This is how I succeeded in life. I had to push myself hard to get to where I’m at.” And it’s true, that may be your edge in life. A person with that kind of personality and perspective can go far with hard work and a little luck.

The problem is that you may be running a race by yourself. For example, the starting gun sounds, and you take off racing. You’re running a marathon, and you want to win. You’ve trained and trained for this day, and you just know that you’re going to get ahead of the pack and place first.

But there’s a problem. You look around, and you’re all alone. No one else is running because they aren’t in the race. So the competition, the race, is solely in your mind. You’re expending all that energy unnecessarily and burning yourself out, causing undue stress. And stress can cause so many mental and physical health issues with how cortisol—the stress hormone—affects your body when it’s present for a long time.

3. You’re afraid of being judged by other people.

Your perfectionism may not come from a strong desire for success or negative reinforcement. Instead, it may come from the desire to avoid the scrutiny and judgment of other people.

To put it bluntly, people can be d*cks. They impose unreasonable expectations on you to try to get the most out of you for their benefit. That is something you may internalize because you want to avoid scrutiny, judgment, and feeling as though you aren’t good enough.

People with anxiety may find that they constantly worry about whether or not they can live up to these expectations. They may constantly worry about how they will be judged, so they seek not to be judged. And then they punish themselves when they find they are in the line of fire.

4. You’re not living up to your capability.

If you see the signs that you’re being too hard on yourself, perhaps it’s because you know that you could do better, but you’re not. You know you can try harder, but you don’t. The truth is that you know you’re not living up to your capability. So, because you’re not, you punish yourself accordingly.

People need to be challenged. A person without challenge stagnates and may become bored and uninterested in life. They may chastise themselves and regret not taking risks that would have led them to greater fulfillment. Not necessarily happiness, but fulfillment. They aren’t always intertwined.

And many people who chase happiness end up making themselves more unhappy, critical of themselves, and bored because a temporary fix of happiness won’t hold them over.

5. You crave external positive reinforcement.

People with low self-esteem have difficulty finding a positive internal narrative about themselves. No duh, right? Well, that often translates to being so hard on yourself that it’s emotionally harmful.

And because you don’t have that positive internal narrative, you look outside of yourself for it. You may force yourself to try to excel to earn the accolades and positive reinforcement from others you lack.

That, of course, is a significant problem. The first problem is that people aren’t necessarily that attentive or kind. So, you may never get that positive reinforcement because other people don’t care as you do. The second problem is that many people will take advantage of your being a people-pleaser.

But there’s nothing wrong with doing things for others because it provides you fulfillment and creates happiness. The issue is when you’re doing it more for other people instead of yourself, then punishing yourself for not living up to your unrealistic expectations.

6. You believe that mistakes are a failure.

Failure is a difficult word to contend with. Many people have a bad relationship with the word. They see failure as the ultimate end to what they were involved in. Often, people will use this word to flagellate themselves for their shortcomings, things not working out in the end, or a plan not going as predicted.

The problem is that failure doesn’t need to be a dirty word. It doesn’t need to be negative if you don’t want it to be. Many successful people don’t look at failure as an end. Rather, they view failure as a chance to pivot to a new path that may lead them closer to success. They have self-confidence that they can somehow turn this failure into a win, even if it’s not pretty and painful.

And let’s face it, most people don’t set out to not succeed. They want to succeed. They plan to succeed. They do everything in their power to ensure they will succeed. But then they don’t because that’s just how life goes sometimes.

7. You don’t have reasonable expectations for yourself.

Do you have reasonable expectations for yourself? What can you accomplish? Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are? And more importantly, are your perceptions of your strengths and weaknesses fair to you?

Many people struggle with maintaining a healthy perspective of their skills and abilities. They set the bar too high because they set themselves up for failure. People who struggle with self-esteem, depression, or anxiety may do this so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I’m not good. I’m not good things. I’m not worthwhile. I’m not worthy of love. I’m a failure.” All because that person set the bar so far out of reach that they had set themselves up to fail from the start. They self-sabotage to reconfirm to themselves that they just aren’t good enough.

8. You catastrophize minor problems into major problems.

Minor problems happen every day. Most people will look at a minor problem and think, “Well, that’s annoying.” But then they get on with their day after sweeping up the mess and moving on.

People who catastrophize may not be able to do that. It may be a natural compulsion of mental health problems or negative self-talk. But, on the other hand, it may also be a habit the person has found themselves in because of stress and things not working for them.

They take every small bump in the road as a personal affront that confirms they aren’t good things, worthy, or capable. But, of course, that is a significant problem because minor problems always happen.

9. You take responsibility for things that aren’t yours.

Everyone has responsibilities. Sometimes they are personal, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes we need to take responsibility for others because we just have to. For example, a parent might take responsibility for their child, or a friend may take responsibility for giving their friend bad advice. These responsibility shifts are good and necessary.

Taking responsibility for things entirely outside your control is not good or necessary. You can’t take responsibility for the actions and choices of other people. You can’t take responsibility for circumstances that you barely touched. Still, some people do so they can use it as an opportunity to harm themselves or put themselves down.

10. You are living with a mental health problem perpetuating negative self-talk.

There’s not a lot to say here. Unfortunately, many mental health problems can cause and perpetuate negative self-talk, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, trauma, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders.

Mental illness and trauma distort emotions, twisting perceptions into unhealthy places most of the time. You may find that you may have a difficult time being kind to yourself for your shortcomings because of the way mental illness affects you.

Still not sure why you are so hard on yourself? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.

Speak to a therapist about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to figure out why you treat yourself so harshly and guide you to a healthier mindset.

BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.

While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.

You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.

You will also want to read: How To Stop Being Hard On Yourself: 14 Highly Effective Tips!.

About The Author

Jack Nollan is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspectives from the side of the mental health consumer. Jack has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.