I have a tendency to be very hard on myself. I had to learn to stop being my cruelest critic and become a friend. To do this, I started thinking of how I would talk to, support and encourage a friend and applied it to myself. I would never tell a friend, “well, you’re sure an idiot. No wonder no one likes you.” I don’t blame my friends for every problem that comes their way. And when they do screw-up, I don’t give them a critic’s eye view of exactly how they screwed up and why this is a reflection of a very serious character issues. So I won’t do that to myself either.
This was a very hard thing for me to learn. Somehow I had deeply absorbed the idea that being excessively harsh and critical of myself was part of being a good person. But while struggling to overcome a serious bout of depression, learning this lesson became a matter of life and death. For a while I would force myself to write down a list of everything I did that was at all positive each day without criticism or commentary. When things went wrong before berating myself, I would stop and ask myself, “what would I say to a friend in this situation?” If I were beating myself up because I had done or said something which was met with disapproval, I would stop and ask myself if my actions were something I would get upset with someone else over. Pretty much always the answer was no, so I decided that I wouldn’t apply the standards of the most negative, judgemental and intolerant people I run into to myself. Thankfully, it’s gotten easier as time goes on.
So if you tend to be too hard on yourself, remember: be nice applies to how you treat everyone – even you!