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Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself!

I work at a Christian university, and we have a staff/prayer meeting every Tuesday morning, at which we take turns bringing the devotional. I’m told young people call them “devo’s” these days. When I think of “Devo” I think of “WHIP IT!” so perhaps I’m a bit out of touch.

Moving on.

I did the devotional a few years ago, and decided I wanted to help everyone try and begin to see themselves  as others see them, as opposed to their own negative, distorted opinions. I made a list of names in our department, and handed them out, instructing each to write at least two sentences for everyone about how they feel toward that person. I stressed to them, “Positive and uplifting comments only, please!”

My point was that, as the cliché goes, we are our own worst critic. Everyone was so encouraged by the comments, it really floored me. Many times, we see only the negative, and our self-opinions are harmful, and not AT ALL what others see.

Trey, my 19-year-old son, sent me this pic a couple days ago:

Trey mirror cartoon

He wrote, “Sometimes we see a dark, distorted reflection of ourselves; we do not see what everyone else can.”

So sad but so true.

Whether your self-opinion was formed by unloving parents or siblings, other kids growing up or a bad relationship, I feel it is VITAL we try and begin to love ourselves for EXACTLY the person God created us to be.

I’m telling myself this as well. I stumbled on an article called 12 Ways to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself by Larry Kim, and from that piece I’d like to share the following steps with you. Read these slowly, so they sink in, and then try and implement them, and stop being so hard on yourself!

  1. Your mistakes are part of your learning. Learn to be resilient in the face of failure.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to others because you aren’t them. You’re you, so accept yourself for who you are, faults and all.
  3. There is no right way to do anything. Don’t limit your thinking to a right or wrong way–there’s no right way to do the wrong thing, and no wrong way to do something right!
  4. Stand up for what you believe, even if it’s unpopular. Make everyone understand your big, crazy ideas.
  5. Learn from people who criticize you. Don’t let criticism get you down; let it inspire you to work (harder)!
  6. Accept your weaknesses as your “features”.You aren’t good at everything you do, but nobody else is, either!
  7. Look at your past as an adventurous biography (in my case, since my story is one of the chapters in my book We Whom The Darkness Could Not Overcome, this is literally true!).Your past isn’t your identity and doesn’t dictate your entrepreneurial destiny.
  8. Don’t underestimate your talent until you apply it 100 times.Are you applying your natural talents?
  9. Every single problem you have is not unique.Put your problems in perspective and solve them faster.
  10. Intelligence is relative, self-esteem is not.Stay positive, take care of yourself, forget about being perfect, and always keep improving yourself.
  11. Express your anger in a creative way. Feel your anger, express it, and learn from it.
  12. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed.Having people you can trust and rely on will make you happier and feel better about yourself.


Each step is important, but the last is my favorite. The other day, when I started getting down on myself, I ate a sliver of humble pie and told my wife, “Tell me I’m a good person.”

She thought I was doing a bit from the movie Saving Private Ryan, but I said, “No, seriously, I’m not having a good day, and just need to hear it.”

My wife of 31 years hugged me, put her head on my shoulder and said, “You are an AMAZING husband, father and Poppy (my name for “grandpa”). You are handsome, funny and creative. You’re a great writer, and you’re going to do great things! We all love you so much, and are so proud of you!”

I had to seek out the positivity, but she responded and gave me exactly what I needed. Sometimes people can tell you’re down in the dumps, and sometimes they can’t, so don’t be afraid to be honest with someone close to you. You’ll feel much better afterwards, I guarantee it.

“Yet they say, ‘My Lord deserted us; he has forgotten us.’  Never! Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm… (Isaiah 49:14-16a TLB, emphasis added)”


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