12 signs you’re being too hard on yourself (and 7 ways to stop)

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It’s common to see posts online glorifying the hustle and grind.

These can motivate us to push ourselves even harder.

But putting too much pressure on ourselves to be the best of the best has its own consequences.

In an effort to keep up with the grind, we might unintentionally sacrifice essential rest, or quality time with our significant other, all for the sake of doing more.

Studies have already shown how detrimental the hustle and grind is to one’s health.

You might have been so fixated on your goals that you forgot to check back in with yourself.

To help you, here are 12 signs that it might be time to cut yourself some slack.

1. You Burn Yourself Out Trying to be Perfect

We admire the people who produce quality output, who keep strict standards for what’s good and what isn’t.

But at some point, it might be too much to stress about every single detail of your work.

You might be trying to record a song, but keep scrapping it because you don’t feel like the notes and lyrics are right.

Sometimes, attention to detail is a good thing.

But if you’re feeling emotionally drained or you start pulling your hair out of frustration, it might be time to step away from the studio for a bit.

You might just be burning yourself out.

2. You Postpone Self-Care until Your To-Do List is Clear

One of the common mindsets that people in the hustle culture have is saving rest and self-care for later. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, is a common hustle culture aphorism.

What they don’t realize is how important sleep is not only to their productivity but the longevity of their life, as studies have suggested.

Taking care of one’s mental and emotional health is as important as one’s physical health.

It’s the foundation of all possibilities.

If you aren’t healthy, then you wouldn’t be able to hustle as hard as you would want to.

Those that neglect to take care of themselves, that keep their engine running nonstop, are setting themselves up for a breakdown, which is their body’s way of saying they’re working too hard.

3. Resting Feels Alien to You

You’ve tried to “rest” once but you couldn’t help but feel guilty for doing so, as if you’re slacking on the job.

If you’re already working as hard as you can, that might be a symptom that you’re a little too hard on yourself.

Rest should never be neglected and is a part of any healthy daily routine.

It isn’t a reward; it’s a necessity. It’s what sustains energy and keeps you going.

As you work, you are naturally going to lose energy and focus along the way.

Rest is your body’s way of getting fuel back.

4. You Nitpick Yourself

We really can be our worst critic.

Every conversation you have with someone, after walking away, you tell yourself, “Ugh, I shouldn’t have said that.

I should’ve said something else instead”.

You begin to overthink.

You constantly wonder, Did I laugh too loud? Did I make a good impression? Is what I’m wearing acceptable?

These tiny details about the things we do are just that: tiny details.

You miss the point of what matters the most: whether you actually had a pleasant conversation or not.

5. You Punish Yourself for Falling Short of Unrealistic Expectations

You took on a full-time job, a part-time job, a side-hustle, and a favor for your friend.

Then you beat yourself up for not being able to juggle all of these responsibilities.

So you say that you’ll wake up earlier, find a better time management technique, and work harder.

But that might not be the problem.

The issue may not be your productivity but your ego.

You were too confident in yourself, setting unrealistic expectations.

No wonder you couldn’t fulfill all your duties.

It’s almost impossible to juggle them all, so expecting yourself to do so is only setting yourself up to be disappointed in yourself.

6. You Dwell On The Things You Did Wrong

You go to the grocery and remember everything you were supposed to buy. You feel great.

Then when you arrive home to your family, you realize that you forgot one item.

So your entire mood changes and you feel disappointed in yourself for the rest of the night.

This is a common trait among people who are too harsh on themselves.

They linger on a past mistake that, as compared to everything else, might not have even caused any harm to anyone.

When you find yourself still dwelling on a past mistake for days, even months, it’s a sign you’re putting too much pressure on yourself.

7. You Always Do More Than What’s Asked For

You may value excellence so much that you’re willing to work overtime on your projects, or wake up extra early to get the job done.

You go to great lengths just to make sure each detail of the project is up to 100% perfection, trusting that nothing should lack in quality.

While going the extra mile may tend to make you stand out from the rest, doing so often will burn you out even faster.

The truth is that once you’ve done what’s asked of you, there really is no need to go beyond that.

Ask yourself if you’re pushing yourself to do more because you genuinely love it or because you want to stand out?

You might either be driven by passion or ego; either way, you might be spending more energy than you need to.

8. You Often Feel Disappointed in Yourself

You told yourself you’re going to be starting on this new workout and diet routine.

You set goals for yourself and you’re ready to change your body.

But then as day 3 rolls around, you give in to temptation and eat a doughnut you know you shouldn’t have.

In your anger, you decide to starve yourself the next day.

While there should be consequences of mistakes, you might be too harsh on yourself when you start to physically or mentally torture yourself for an honest mistake.

Old habits are notoriously difficult to break.

You shouldn’t expect such discipline from yourself just yet – you’re just starting out trying to adopt new habits.

9. You Compare Your Progress to Others

You see your friends post photos of their “After” photo and they have a six pack and they’re more muscular now.

Then you look back on yourself and think of yourself as a complete failure.

The problem is that you’re comparing yourself here to the wrong thing.

You’re only seeing a single point in their health journey; there’s no photos of them struggling with the weights or fighting the temptation to cheat on their diet.

You’re putting too much pressure on your behind-the-scenes to be as good as their highlight reel, when that isn’t fair for you.

Of course it’s different.

10. You’re Constantly Exhausted

Always being anxious about what others think of you, mentally replaying that one small mistake you made back in college, worrying about all the little details of your work project.

Constantly having these thoughts will take a toll on you mentally, and physically.

The best fix for feeling exhausted? Resting.

If you’re feeling mentally foggy and struggle to keep up your energy, your body is telling you that it’s running on low.

11. Your Thoughts & Language Are Negative

You tell yourself you can’t do something, or “I wish I was more…”

The language you use is going to affect the way you think, and the way you think is going to affect the way you act, and speak.

It’s a vicious feedback loop that can quickly diminish your self-esteem.

Realize that we’re all different.

You can’t expect yourself to be more like someone else when you have different schedules, backgrounds, dreams, and motivations.

Learning to accept yourself, though easier said than done, will alleviate the pressure you keep putting on yourself.

12. You Feel You Aren’t Doing Enough

At the end of a long day of hopping from one task to the next, you still feel like you haven’t done enough. It’s as if finding a sense of fulfillment is impossible.

As Oliver Burkeman writes in Four Thousand Weeks, it’s important for us to realize that we realistically can’t do everything.

There are an infinite number of things to do, books to read, online courses to take, but only a finite amount of time and energy.

It’s often that you’re overestimating the amount of things you think you can get done in a day, but completely underestimating what you can achieve in 365.

How to Take It Easier on Yourself: 7 Tips

Taking it easier on yourself is about accepting the limits of who you are.

Are you losing sleep because of some small thing you said or did a few years ago?

Do you feel disappointed in yourself because while you’re working, you see others post online they’re at the beach?

Learn to forgive yourself and put the phone down.

You’ve grown since then, and we all live different lives.

If you feel you need more help to make it easier on yourself, here are 5 tips to make it easier on yourself and calm your life down.

1. Forgive yourself.

Make it a daily practice to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.

We all make mistakes. It’s impossible to be a perfect human being.

But as long as you’re trying your best it doesn’t matter whether you succeed or not.

You’re just as good of a human being whether you get it right or wrong.

Beating yourself up only makes you feel worse, so forgive yourself and move on instead.

Take pride in your hard work and the value it brings to other people’s lives.

Forgiveness is a way of loving your flaws because as you forgive yourself, you learn to love your unique self.

2. Make time for yourself.

As often as possible, take time out of your day (even if it’s just 15 minutes) to breathe and do nothing.

Your body needs the break from all of those tasks that keep you busy, so it can repair itself from the outside in.

Meditate. Bask in the glory of silence. Do what you need to do to recharge and replenish your body and mind.

3. Have fun doing things you enjoy.

Sometimes, we forget to just have fun. Some of us are so busy working that there’s no room in our schedule for enjoying ourselves.

Getting out there and doing the things you love is a great way to release the stress and unwind after a hard day at work, while also giving yourself some time to socialize.

Also, try to have fun with more serious activities like work. It’s possible you’re burned out because you’re taking your work too seriously.

If you turn your work into a game, you might have more fun and be less burned out as a result.

4. Accept that you’re different from other people.

You’re not everyone, and you don’t have to be everything to everyone.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and as long as we keep ourselves aware of this we can make sure it doesn’t hinder our personal happiness.

As long as we exercise the most effort towards being who we are, then nobody can tell us that we’re not good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or whatever enough.

Embrace your uniqueness and love yourself for who you are.

5. Make time to be social.

Mentally and physically, we have to let in all of the outside stimulation that our minds need.

Socializing is a great way to make this happen.

Connect with other people and experience new things, or even just spend time with your family and friends again.

The more you do this the better you will feel.

After all, human beings are social beings. We all need belonging and human connection to live healthy, satisfying lives.

As you connect with other people, you will feel less isolated and more connected to life than ever before.

6. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail

You have to care for yourself just as much as you do for others.

Do the best that you can, and don’t beat yourself up when you fail.

Forgive yourself, then feel proud of what you have accomplished and move on to the next thing.

You’re human like everyone else, so accept your weaknesses along with your strengths and strive to improve from there.

Because the truth is this:

Everyone fails, but it’s how you respond to failure that will define your success.

7. Don’t say yes when you mean no

Remember that you have to take care of yourself before anything else.

If you’re too busy to take on something new, then don’t say yes.

Think of it this way: if something is truly important to you, then it’s worth sacrificing your time and energy for.

But if it’s not important to you, then don’t feel bad about saying no.

As long as you’re doing your best, everyone else will understand.

In the end, resolve to take it easier on yourself, and you’ll find you don’t have to struggle so much.

Eventually, you’ll learn to trust yourself enough to know what is and isn’t important in your life.

You’ll just naturally want to do things that are good for you, because it’s the easiest way to be happy.


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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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