Go Easy on Yourself: 4 Simple Tips to Help You Do What Matters in a Self-Kind Way

A woman with closed eyes with a sunrise in the background.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”
Edith Schaeffer

One common way to get things done, to achieve and to motivate yourself is to be kind of hard on yourself.

To set very high standards for yourself that you want to stick to every time.

Now, this way of going about things can indeed help you to accomplish big things in your life and to get things done every week.

But it comes at a price.

Three negative things about taking this position towards yourself are:

You tear your self-esteem down. 

As you achieve things you tend to tear down your own self-esteem at the same time.

So you feel less and less like you deserve success. And frustration and being angry can become more and more common as you fail to reach those very high standards.

You suck the fun and excitement out of things.

A hard or harsh attitude towards yourself has a tendency to make things that used to be fun and exciting less and less so.

This attitude does instead over time turn those things into just work that you may start to dread because you fear failure or not meeting your high standards.

You’ll perform worse and worse.

As your self-esteem goes down you’ll feel less motivated to tackle the tasks and projects in your life. As the fun and excitement goes out of many of the things you do procrastination tends to become more and more common.

Plus, the work you put in becomes less energetic and focused and so the results aren’t that good anymore either.

I used to take the harder and harsher path. It did help in some ways. But it wasn’t worth it.

So what can you do if you feel that you are maybe too hard on yourself or you beat yourself up quite often?

Here are 4 tips that helped me to become kinder towards myself, to get more of the most important things done and to feel better about myself and my life.

1. Remind yourself of the negative effects of this attitude.

To just remind yourself of how damaging being hard on yourself has been is in my experience a very effective way to replace the old habit with going easier on yourself.

2. Go for more human and smarter standards for yourself.

Movies, books and the people around you may push standards on you that are just pure fantasy or some kind of perfect dream.

But life is life, not a fantasy or dream and to set such extremely high standards that no one can live up to just leads to what you may see as failure and disappointment in yourself and in your life.

Instead, relax a bit and accept that everything and everyone has flaws and things don’t always go as planned.

Accept that you can still improve things but they will never be perfect.

And realize that you won’t be rejected if things or you aren’t perfect. At least not by reasonably well-balanced human beings, like most people actually are in reality.

3. Focus on the positive and helpful feedback in setbacks.

It is very common to be hard on yourself when you make a mistake or fail.

But it is also a very destructive habit because it can magnify one such event into something that makes you feel depressed for days or weeks or makes you quit altogether.

So when you are hard on yourself for a failure or mistake then relax a bit and go a bit easier on yourself. Remind yourself of why this is a much better strategy to keep the motivation and self-esteem up.

And ask yourself:

  • What is one thing I can I learn from this situation?
  • How can I use what I learn from this to not make the same mistake again and to move forward in a smarter way?

4. Celebrate your small steps of forward.

If you are in the habit of only celebrating when you reach a big milestone or a perfect moment or two then you may lose your motivation and feel like you are never happy or arriving where you want to be.

So make a habit of celebrating your small daily and weekly successes too.

This will help you to keep the soul-tiring monotony away and help you to stay enthusiastic instead of getting more and more unmotivated until you may even consider quitting halfway to that big milestone.


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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Md Shahnawaz Alam


  • Amazing Post and great content. Thanks for sharing this article.
    Thanks Again!!

  • BLynn

    Thank you for being a positive force, bright light, and inspiring role model!

  • Mary

    Lovely words of encouragement, thanks so much.

  • Simple and effective advice on this, which is what I needed. Thanks Henrik!

  • Hi, I literally like the UX-friendly theme of your blog. Keep it up, man.

  • Kelly Mack

    Henrik, I am so glad I discovered you some time ago. Your articles no matter what topic always leave me feeling positive. I actually take notes when I read and write them in my journal. Thank you for your encouraging words about life. You are the best!

  • Great blog! It can be so easy to point out the negative aspects of life! Take it step by step and point out the good things even if they are small!

  • Freya

    Thanks, I completely agree with this post, I adopted this method of thinking about 6 months ago and since then I have healthier relationships in all aspects, and I am powering through my workload without overwhelm. And the funny thing is, my work and life are nearer perfection than ever before when I was always feeling pressure to be the best. Now I am just the best I am in the moment and that brings great results. I am enjoying my life again. My days end feeling proud and successful. But you are right, that you have to be hard on yourself in a positive way. I had to make my brain change. I had to talk to myself. I had to let go of people. I had to network to bring in the right people. I had to overcome fears and procrastination born from perfect child syndrome. And it was not easy. I believe if I can do it, anyone can :-)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know where I found you…yes, very timely.
    T hank you tender soul for reminding us we do matter (: