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Stop Beating Yourself Up! 7 Tips that Can Help

There’s an old line that goes something like this, “You wouldn’t treat a friend the way you treat yourself.”

What I notice about myself and many of the people I work with is that we set a high bar for ourselves and we beat ourselves up when we don’t meet our own expectations.

“I should have known,” “I blew it” and “I did nothing today to get ahead” are just mild examples of the self-talk that can be so frequent it becomes background noise.

We think we must be super-beings heading out every day to crush that project at work and clear our in-boxes. When we come up short, or worse, we make a mistake, we become our own worst enemy.

Hang up the gloves with yourself

The truth is, you will never wrap up the week having completed everything you wanted to do. You will never empty your in-box. You will never get everything just “right” before you go on your trip. You will never stop making mistakes. Here’s the kicker: no one asks all that of you but you.

What’s important to consider is that if you’re beating yourself up, odds are that your team is following suit. Research shows that a team will take on the mood of its leader.

You wouldn't treat a friend like you treat yourself.

“The negative emotions we create by being overly hard on ourselves not only erode our happiness, but change our physiology. Beating up on yourself actually narrows your peripheral vision so that, both metaphorically and literally, you can see less opportunity to address your challenges, fix your mistakes, and create the opportunities you want.”

–Margie Warrell, author of Brave

7 tips to help you get out of the ring:

  1. Watch out for negative language. Be aware of making snarky comments, having stinging opinions, and being in constant judgment of yourself and others. If you can develop a listening for your judgmental comments, you can eventually choose to say something different.
  2. Don’t go “Blame Hunting” on yourself or others. This is a destructive practice that drives people to point fingers and distrust each other. Without trust, no one will take ownership. Without trust, there is no chance for extraordinary work.
  3. Conduct well-rounded reviews. It’s important to debrief what went wrong to keep it from happening again. But if you can find value in the mishaps, you can prevent them from getting in the way of the next opportunity. Look for the learning. This allows everyone to be honest and re-energized about the next opportunity.
  4. Celebrate the wins. Never underestimate the practice of positivity. Begin each meeting with a quick story about “what’s working.” The meeting will go better. On a regular basis, acknowledge and appreciate people for their special contributions. Both you and your team will feel more accomplished.
  5. Build a nurturing environment. If the work environment lacks empathy, people can dwell on mistakes in isolation and take on the fatigue that erodes health and good work. Research shows that caring for and feeling cared for by others actually lowers our blood pressure.
  6. Redirect the conversation. If stress over executing the project details just right has taken you off course, go back to purpose. Put your customers or clients at the center of your conversation. Are they getting what they need from you? What kind of experience are you providing?
  7. Be vulnerable. It’s healthy to laugh at your own mistakes. Tell others, “I can get too intense from time to time—so if you see me going there, call me out!” People will trust you for being real. Sharing your imperfection allows everyone be a human being instead of a human doing.

I’ve been working on this for a very long time, and I can tell you it’s a lifetime assignment. I am still aware of the places I fall short, but being kinder to myself over the years allows me to step out of the ring for longer stretches.

Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review,,, and Fast Company.