Why are we SO hard on ourselves?

Why are we SO hard on ourselves?
woman crying at window

You may be struggling to keep your head above water, doing everything you can to keep going each day.

You may have let some of your regular duties slide. Your house may not be as clean as you would like. There is laundry, dirty and clean, in piles and baskets. You fed your family cereal for breakfast more times than you can count because you haven’t had the strength to cook.

You may be struggling with depression. You may have a physical illness, maybe even cancer. You may be under an extreme amount of pressure at your job. Everybody is always wanting more and more from you.

And you, you may be disappointed in yourself. You may be beating yourself up. Wondering why don’t you just get it together and deal with it all. I have been in that place myself. When I was close to my breakdown, I pushed and pushed myself, continually pushing beyond my physical and emotional limits because I thought I should be able to “do better”. To handle it all.

Extending grace and compassion to a friend

If you had a friend who was going through what you are and she actually let you know it, you would extend love and compassion to her, and grace, lots of grace. You wouldn’t condemn her for not being able to “do it all”.

You would offer to listen. You would tell her not to worry about the house and the kids, they are tough and will get through. That a steady diet of cereal for a few weeks never hurt anyone long-term.

woman consoling friend

You would tell her it is okay to be exhausted. It is understandable with everything she is going through. You would tell her to say NO to some things, even if they seem important at the time, and just go to bed.

You would suggest that she get some help, from her husband, her parents, her friends. And that it is okay to ask for help. It doesn’t mean she is weak, or not as good as others because she is having difficulty coping.

You would recommend that she go to the doctor and be under good medical care. And that she follow her doctor’s advice.

You would tell your good friend these things. You would wrap your arms around her and let her cry if needed.

You would pray for her, and ask others to pray as well.

Why don’t we offer ourselves the same grace

Then why, oh why, are we so hard on ourselves? If it were us in this situation instead of a “friend”, you would be criticizing your “lack of ability”, your “weakness.”

You would be ashamed and want no one to know. You would hide your pain and keep plugging on, hoping no one would find out.

My hope is to help women, and men, to treat themselves with the same decency and respect we would those around us. YOU deserve that love and respect. You deserve to be cared for and treated well. You deserve the right to put yourself first sometimes over others.

You. Right now. The reader who is hurting.

YOU deserve grace and compassion. First and foremost from YOURSELF.

And then you owe it to yourself to reach out to someone close to you. Whether it is to just cry on someone’s shoulder or a desperate plea for help, DO IT TODAY.

And if you are struggling so deeply that you are not sure you can go on, that you don’t want to live in this pain,



Linking up with Shell’s Things I Can’t Say and Some Girl’s Thought Provoking Thursday
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14 comments to Why are we SO hard on ourselves?

  • What a great, warm and loving post. Thank you. We all need to hear this now and then I think :)
    Karin recently posted..Self Portrait: Waiting for the rain to stopMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    You are so very welcome, Karin! Yes, we do need to be reminded!

  • It’s always harder to be kind to yourself than to others. I think the problem lies on the receiver’s end. Just as a friend might not believe you when you say something positive to them, you can disbelieve positive self-statements.
    Jonathan @ punchlifeintheface recently posted..The Omnivore’s HundredMy Profile

  • I think about this a lot. I’d cut a friend so much slack. And yet, here I am stressed out, and I assume no one will cut me any slack.
    Shell recently posted..Blog Conference Prep: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk to PeopleMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    So true. But we have to learn to accept that we DESERVE some slack, just like we would give our friends.
    Can’t wait to see you soon!

  • This is so true for so very many women. This is exactly how I have operated for the first 7 years of motherhood. I finally came to a point where I knew I had to change. It’s made a huge difference in my life and in my family’s life.

    bernicewood Reply:

    It is good that you reached that point sooner rather than later. It took me about 25 years! And taking off the supermom cape can be so freeing!

  • Kristy

    See I’m not at the ‘needing to call that number’ stage…
    but I am at the ‘I cannot do it all a.n.y.m.o.r.e. never get enough done stage. More failings than successes. More no-motivation days to push on through than not.
    AND I have asked [person] for help and I may as well be talking to the wall. I have friends and we try and help each other but we’re all in the same boat.

    We agreed we could be each other’s ‘Village’ and help out with what another is finding really challenging but the deal was it couldn’t had extra to your own plate. ie so you can’t knock back a day’s work (when you need the money) just to watch someone else’s children BUT if you’re already at home with your own, then that’s ok, you can make that offer. See?

    anyway. We’re all in the same boat, is all. Oh for my Mum who lives 3000km away.
    So I have asked. I’ve done almost all the things on ‘the list’ – say no, ask for help etc and it really doesn’t make much difference. But like I said, I’m not at the ‘call that number’ stage, it’s just so discouraging [or whatever other word, insert here].

    bernicewood Reply:

    It can be discouraging if you don’t get help from the one you need it from most. I am so sorry about that! It may be that they don’t realize how desperate for help you are.
    It is good that you have some friends you have reached out to, even if they can’t be a lot of actual help, just knowing and understanding one another’s situation and realizing you are not alone can be a big help.
    Let me encourage you to do as best you can to take care of yourself. No, a dirty house is not good, but if you are exhausted you won’t be any good for anybody. Find whatever convenience items you can to help you out in your cooking. Anything at all to reduce your load. And then just know that life has a way of getting better, of changing.
    Hang in there! Big HUGS to you!

  • My mommy/wife guilt has soared to new heights this year as I’m commuting 150 between Portland (for work) and Tacoma (where my family is) at least twice a month. It’s amazing how I expect myself to perform at a level of intensity that I would never expect of any of my employees. Ridiculous.
    Emily @ Make It Happen Mama recently posted..Scan It, Shred It, RepeatMy Profile

  • Cynthia

    Let me encourage you to do as best you can to take care of yourself. No, a dirty house is not good, but if you are exhausted you won’t be any good for anybody. Find whatever convenience items you can to help you out in your cooking. Anything at all to reduce your load. And then just know that life has a way of getting better, of changing.
    Cynthia recently posted..Hot Tub RepairsMy Profile

  • Ann Mahoney

    I know that I am hard on myself as an old habit from guilt infused discipline by my parents for one thing. Currently, I am disabled. I was hit by a car in 1988 and rearended in my car by a full size chevy truck that never hit the brakes while my daughter(age 7 then) were sitting at a red light. I went to the hospital and they said I was just bruised and banged up. XRAYs and Scans were fine. Years later I noticed pain in my hands and neck; then I noticed my hands were not working correctly. They would not go to the right place when I went to pick up anything small. I’d be an inch away from the object. It was nurologists and neurosurgeons after that. I often beat myself up because I can’t do what I used to do. I am in Chronic Pain, have trouble keeping the house clean, taking the dog out etc. Often I have to cancel events with my friends because I can’t get out of bed. I keep trying as if I am 15 years old fighting the ‘monkey on my back’ as if this approach is going to heal me. It’s time to accept my disability, lighten up and depend solely on God’s provisions and His timing and will for my life as it is now. Thanks for listening!

  • Looking through your posts here, this one caught my attention. I like the way you explained everything from your point of view. however, we all are hard on ourselves from time to time…some people – all the time! That is not a good thing though.
    EleonoraEOF recently posted..Now Eat This! Diet Review by Rocco DiSpiritoMy Profile

  • Yeah I agree. Sometime, we just tend to blame on ourselves. I mean, we need to be hard on ourselves, but it should be meant just for toughening ourselves up.
    Andrew Walker recently posted..The “Misarable” Life of a Coupon Addict…or Maybe NotMy Profile