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When You Can’t Stop Berating Yourself

You gained weight. Of course you did. You can’t keep your mouth shut. You stuff yourself like the pig that you are.

You can never get everything done for the day. Other people do. But you’re too slow, too lazy, too incompetent.

You can never get up early enough to exercise. You’re exhausted, which clearly is an excuse. An awful excuse. Which is proof that you don’t want to lose weight. Which is proof that you’ll remain disgusting.

You made a mistake. Maybe it was a big mistake or a tiny error. Either way, whatever the size, whatever the magnitude, you can’t stop bashing yourself. Because you deserve it. Because you should’ve known better. And now everyone knows the truth: You’re the dumbest person in your entire company.

We are terrible to ourselves. Regularly. We say the most hurtful things. Cruel things. Things we’d never say to someone else. Because they sting so much.

And yet it’s so hard not to be terrible. The insults spill out so easily, so naturally, like water from a faucet. Being kind to ourselves feels foreign and awkward. It feels like we’re doing something wrong, so we pile on the criticism. And pile on. And pile on.

Recently, I came across an important quote from actress Emma Stone: “I remind myself to be kind to myself, and, as slightly ridiculous as it may sound, to treat myself in the same gentle way I’d want to treat a daughter of mine…”

This is a powerful reminder, particularly when the cruel words come. What if you treat yourself in the same gentle way you’d treat your daughter? What if you treat yourself in the same way you’d want her to treat herself? With the same kindness, understanding and patience. By asking questions to identify and meet your needs, instead of condemning or criticizing: Do I even like to work out? What can I learn from this mistake? Why have I been eating more lately? Am I stressed out? What am I feeling? How can I become more attuned to my hunger and satiety cues? Am I simply eating normally? Is weight loss really the answer? Do I want to spend my entire life bashing and trying to change my body? What can I remove from my list and delegate to others? What if I take that time to take care of myself?

For many of us it’s much easier to bash ourselves. It’s much easier to be harsh, to be impatient, to jump to conclusions, to say we’ve ruined everything, to say we’re worthless. It’s much easier to abandon ourselves. And so we do.

But try to extend some kindness and tenderness instead. Try to be supportive. Maybe you have a daughter, and she’ll pick up on how you treat yourself, and likely do the same. And if you don’t have kids, pretend anyway. Think about how you’d treat them. Think about what you’d want them to learn from you. Think about how you’d want them to traverse challenges, how you’d want them to let others treat them. And try doing the same.

And think back to your younger self, too. Because you’re still that sweet, curious, fragile yet fierce, maybe lost little girl trying her best to navigate the world. Give that girl the support she desperately needs and deserves. Give her permission to stumble, to discover her dreams, to get to know herself, to exist without apology, to sprout her wings.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash.

When You Can’t Stop Berating Yourself

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). When You Can’t Stop Berating Yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 16 Jun 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Jun 2018
Published on All rights reserved.