How to Stop Being So Dang Hard on Yourself

Jennifer Sneeden
3 min readJul 5, 2023


Photo by Nathan Van Egmond on Unsplash

There you are, losing your cool with your kids again. Or not returning an important client call. Or spending another day on the couch. Or not recording the podcast episode you promised yourself you’d record. Or… Or… Or…

You screwed up. Maybe you didn’t really even screw up. Maybe you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and you just can’t even. Welcome to life.

You now have a key decision to make: What are you going to do about it?

Are you going to beat yourself up about? Or are you going to learn the lesson and move on?

Many people default to beating themselves up about what they perceive as their shortcomings. They may even believe that there’s some value in being hard on themselves: “The more I beat myself up about this now, the less likely I am to do it again.”

They are reaching for becoming better, but it isn’t working because you can’t be down on yourself and expect improvement. When you are stuck in the vibration of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or self-judgement, the path to improvement isn’t through more negative emotion. The path to improvement is through elevating your vibration so you can be the best version of yourself. The version of yourself that can learn from your mistakes.

This is what repent means. If you grew up like I did, you may have an instant reaction to that word. Maybe you learned that repenting WAS beating yourself up, feeling badly about your mistakes, and generally feeling unworthy. In fact, repent means something very different.

Repent actually means ‘turn around’. It comes from a Greek military command for soldiers to do an about-face. In a spiritual sense, it means ‘to change one’s mind’. Not punish yourself. Not wallow in guilt and shame. Not drown in self-recrimination.

All of those actions cause you to stay stuck. When you are feeling bad and you heap more negativity on yourself, you perpetuate more feeling bad. If you do this enough, negativity and feeling bad just become your default state. You begin to expect the worst in yourself. You begin to expect to let yourself down. You begin to see yourself as unworthy. Does this sound like who you want to be? No.

Even more importantly, when you are hard on yourself, you can’t see the lesson or the gift in the problem. A problem will always point out where you need to change, but the message is subtle. When you’re caught up in self-recrimination, you’ll miss the lesson hidden within the problem. When ou miss the lesson, you don’t know what or how to change, which means you’ll find yourself right back in this place again.

Instead of being hard on yourself when you screw up, look for the lesson from a nonjudgmental place. “What is this trying to teach me? Is there a gift in here for me?” Once you can see the lesson or the gift, you’ll be able to make the changes you need to make BEFORE it turns into another problem.