“Why Am I So Hard On Myself?” 7 ways to challenge your inner-critic

In a world in which we are constantly bombarded by idealized images on social media and advertisements, it is easy to feel inadequate. We are often our own worst critics, ruthlessly judging our perceived flaws or berating ourselves for the slightest mistake. If you are wondering, “Why am I so hard on myself,” it may comfort you to know that many people struggle with self-criticism.

Am I being too hard on myself? Quiz

If some self-criticism is normal, how do you know if and when your inner critic is a problem? Psychologists think that the degree to which you ruminate over your imperfections is an important piece of the why am I so hard on myself puzzle. London psychologist Daniel Kolubinski and his colleagues developed a self-rating scale called the MSCRQ, (meta-cognitions about self-criticism rumination questionnaire). Among the items on the questionnaire are:

  • I find it hard to focus on anything else when I think about my past mistakes and failures.
  • I need to repeatedly think about things that I got wrong in order to avoid making mistakes in the future.
  • Having self-critical thoughts means that I am a weak person.
  • I have a hard time distancing myself from thoughts about not being good enough.
  • I tend to treat thoughts about my worth as facts–If I think them, they must be true.
Ruminating makes it hard to take perspective. It’s as if you are seeing your flaws and mistakes through a magnifying glass!

Characteristics of highly self-critical people

In addition to rumination, there are certain characteristics that people with a harsh inner-critic tend to share. Highly self-critical people:

  1. Blame themselves for every negative situation.
  2. Make all-or-nothing generalizations like, “I am a failure,” vs. “I made a mistake.”
  3. Have a hard time giving themselves credit for things, even when credit is due.
  4. Focus on flaws or mistakes that others perceive as minute.
  5. Have a hard time accepting compliments.
  6. Resist asking for help.
  7. Compare themselves to other people and always come up short.
  8. Have a hard time letting go of past mistakes.
  9. Avoid taking risks because they think they are going to fail.
  10. May not assert themselves or express their opinions due to fear of rejection by others.
If you are wondering “Why am I so hard on myself,” it might be useful to think about how you use social media. Apps like Facebook and Instagram encourage social comparisons, which tend to lead to self-criticism.

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  • Social Adaptation
  • Past history
  • Anxiety
  • Attributional style

Negative effects of self-criticism

You may think that your self-criticism is holding you to a higher standard, and that if you let go of it, you won’t make any progress towards your goals. But research indicates that the opposite is true. Among other things, self-criticism can contribute to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Procrastination
  • Body image issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Physical illness
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Loss of motivation
  • Anhedonia, or Inability to experience pleasure
Being too critical of yourself can lead to a decrease in motivation.

How can I stop being so hard on myself?

If your self-criticism is associated with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or trauma, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. A good therapist will help you identify the specific nature of your self-criticism and the treatment that will be most helpful to you. Often, treatment for self-criticism involves some form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. In CBT, you examine your thoughts and behaviors and identify and correct problematic patterns. Here are 7 CBT techniques you can try if you want to get a head start on challenging your self-critic:

Mindfulness or self-compassion meditation can help you answer the question, “Why am I so hard on myself?”


To some extent, being hard on yourself is human nature. But taken to an extreme, self-criticism can have adverse effects like anxiety, depression, and interpersonal conflict. If you are tired of listening to your inner critic, try challenging your negative thoughts and introducing some self-compassion. Research shows that this approach is more likely to help you achieve your goals, whether at work, in relationships, or life in general!

Instead of giving your mistakes all of the attention, try celebrating your wins!

Frequently asked questions about “Why Am I So Hard On Myself?”

What does it mean when you are hard on yourself?

Being hard on yourself means you are very critical and demanding of yourself, and expect a higher standard than you would expect from others. It can mean setting high standards and expectations for yourself and feeling disappointed or frustrated when you fail to meet them.

How can I stop being so hard on myself?

1. Change your thinking — Take a moment to reflect on the thoughts that are making you hard on yourself. Ask yourself if those thoughts are helpful or necessary. If not, challenge them and replace them with more positive and constructive thoughts.

Is being hard on yourself a disorder?

No, being hard on yourself is not a disorder. It may, however, be a symptom of an underlying issue, such as depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem. If you are finding it difficult to cope with being hard on yourself, it is important to talk to a mental health professional to identify any underlying issues.

What is it called when you are too hard on yourself?

This is known as “self-criticism” or “self-flagellation.”



Directly translated wohlgefühl means pleasant feeling sense of well-being. Read about everything mental health and wellness.

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Filler bite - Wohlgefühl

Directly translated wohlgefühl means pleasant feeling sense of well-being. Read about everything mental health and wellness.