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It’s Easy to Be Hard On Yourself


Throughout the last 20 years of my life there has been one overarching facet of my personality that both drives me and that I wish would relax, that’s the fact that I’m extremely hard on myself.

I don’t know where this push for absolute perfection came from but the fact remains that it is and probably always will be a part of me that I have to grapple with.

Truthfully though, I wouldn’t be where I am today without that voice in my head telling me to push harder and harder.

It’s gotten me jobs at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Scientific American and a host of other prestigious publications.

It’s been the main motivating force in me losing weight and it’s been the driver in my recovery from dangerously delusional to a valued contributing member of my community.

This voice though has the tendency to scream and make a fit when things aren’t going according to plan, when things aren’t perfect and that’s a problem simply for the fact that life as we know it, is inevitably imperfect.

I work my butt off trying to satisfy the voice but no matter what I do, it’s never completely happy with any outcome.

It has this ideal of perfection for what I should be and when I don’t live up to that I get frustrated and depressed and start to feel the weight of existence and the world collapsing in around me.

I’m no stranger to feeling inadequate and I know a lot of people have that problem as well.

There’s a line in an episode of Lena Dunham’s TV Show “Girls” that goes something like this, “Everything you can call me, I’ve already called myself worse thousands of times”.

Essentially we all have this inner voice in our heads that we try and fail to live up to and when we don’t get to a place we feel like we should be we start to feel despair.

There are several things you can do to combat the voice though and while they are simple momentary fixes that might not help kill the voice entirely, they can help in the moment.

The first thing you can do is try to remember the things you’re grateful for.

Being mindful of all the blessings you have can put a lid on the desire for more momentarily and if nothing else, can help you get to sleep when you’re lying in bed awake at night.

The second thing you can do is practice acceptance.

Essentially accepting things just the way they are and working to get a handle on the ferocity of what the voice is telling you can quiet it down for a while.

It can help you focus on tasks at hand instead of the big picture that you’re striving so hard to reach.

In truth, I know what it’s like to hear that voice day in day out and if you’re subject to it’s whims I know where you’re coming from.

We would all do good to be a little more gentle with ourselves but I know how hard that can be.

Just know you’re not alone in feeling that way.

It’s Easy to Be Hard On Yourself

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2016). It’s Easy to Be Hard On Yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Jun 2016
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