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  • Writer's pictureSherri M. Herman

Do This to Stop Being So Hard On Yourself

Several years ago, if I made one little mistake, like burning the pancakes, I’d say the absolute worst things to myself. Things I would never, ever say to anyone else. Can you relate? Oof. I cringe just thinking about it.

Most of us talk to ourselves in ways that we would never dream of uttering to another person, especially our own child or best friend. Yet, we relentlessly speak to ourself in the harshest ways, thinking that it's going to improve our performance and somehow make us better. It doesn't. It actually makes things worse. And, being hard on yourself makes you feel more depressed, angry, and lonely.

I'm going to show you exactly how to stop being so hard on yourself and how to create a kinder relationship with yourself. Because it doesn't just help you feel better, it actually helps you pursue your goals, have healthier relationships, and feel happier in your life.

Woman running with balloons, Do This To Stop Being So Hard On Yourself - Sherri M Herman

Notice how your mind talks to you when you make a mistake. 

How does your mind speak to you when you make a mistake? What are the words or phrases it says?

I actually want you to grab a pen and paper and write it down. Write down the three most common phrases that your mind says to you when you make a mistake. I’ll give you a moment. 

[giving you a moment]

Got it? Do you need more time? Okay, I’ll trust that you’ve identified a few words or phrases. 

Now. Who else does that voice sound like? 

The way you talk to yourself has been shaped by your environment. 

Think about it. You weren’t born with the words in your mind. You know why? Because you weren’t born with language. You literally did not come out of the womb talking (even if your mom said you did).

You didn’t start talking at all for at least 2-4 years into your life. And you didn’t just magically begin speaking because you were born with a talent for words (even if you are talented with words).

You started talking because the people around you were talking. And the words you spoke were a reflection of what you heard. This is how language and dialect is passed on. 

The words that you heard other people say to you, about you, or about themselves, or others, significantly shapes the way you talk to yourself internally.

So let me ask you again. When you think of that voice in your mind that swoops in after you’ve made a mistake, who else does it sound like? Whose voice is it? 

And let me make it clear: we’re not here to blame anyone. We’re here to understand and increase awareness. That’s it. 

How you talk to yourself reflects how you actually think about yourself.

Okay. Now that you know what your mind says to you when you make a mistake, I want you to answer this question: What does this make you think about yourself?

For me, some of my most common thoughts were: “I’m an idiot.” “I’m worthless.” “I’m a failure.” 

What is it for you? What are the thoughts or beliefs about yourself that are underneath the way that your mind says to you when you make a mistake?

Take a moment to write some of these down. 

For real. These exercises don’t work unless you actually do them.

How you think influences how you feel.

Now, how do these thoughts make you feel?

When I say feel, I’m not talking about more thoughts or ideas about yourself. Don’t just tell me what you’re thinking. I mean, what are the emotions, the feeeeeeeelings, that you experience as a result of those thoughts. 

If you’re saying, “I don’t know Sherri! I don’t know what the heck I’m feeling!”

It’s okay. You’re not alone. 

I know the mind is not always very good at identifying feelings. That’s the case for most of us. 

So it can be helpful to listen to your body when you’re trying to figure out what you’re actually feeling. I’m talking about feeling words, like: sad, scared, angry, shameful, surprised, lonely, happy, etc.

Look back over the words and phrases you just wrote down in the previous exercise. Close your eyes and let those sink in. 

Now turn your attention inward towards your body. Notice the sensations in your body.


Write down any feeling words that seem to resonate with you. 

Accept your feelings and respond to them with loving-kindness.

Now. Imagine that someone you dearly love, and maybe who is a little more vulnerable than you, is feeling this same way. It could be your child, your pet, your niece or nephew, you get the idea. 

Get a picture of them in your head.

Now, without trying to change their thoughts or feelings, what would you say or do with them if you wanted them to know that they’re not alone and they are loved exactly as they are. How would you show them tender, loving-kindness?

What actions would you take? 

What words would you say?

If you’re not sure, then imagine how a deeply loving figure would respond to them. How do you think God, Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, or Thich Nhat Hanh would respond to them? 

Take a moment to imagine this in your mind. Then write down some ideas. 

Now I want you to picture doing this or saying these things to yourself. 

This is how you start being kinder to yourself. 

With enough practice and time, you absolutely can retrain the way you respond to yourself when you make a mistake. 

Okay, I hear you saying, “But Sherri, I can’t do this all the time. You can’t expect me to be Mother Teresa or Jesus for crying out loud. This is unreasonable.”

I hear you. You’re absolutely right. I don’t expect you to be perfect at this. Because that wouldn’t be human or loving. I’m not perfect at it either. But, I want you to just practice. Practice as often as you can. 

Aim for progress not perfection. 

Slowly over time, the berating will get less and less. Less raking over the coals, and no more hell, fire and brimstone when you burn the pancakes or send the wrong email.

You'll have more patience, feel more at ease, and feel more calm even when things don't go exactly as you intended, which helps you be the kind of person and mom you really want to be.

And, bonus, you'll automatically begin to respond to your kids and people you love in the same way. Which, in turn, helps them have a more loving relationship with themselves.

Cool, huh?

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. 

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And remember,

you are always loved no matter what.

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Woman running with balloons, Do This To Stop Being So Hard On Yourself - Sherri M Herman

Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love

I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to book a free call.


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