How often do you beat yourself up over something you did or didn’t do? Maybe you hurt someone. Perhaps you made a bad decision or even missed out on an opportunity that could have changed your life. I’ve done some pretty stupid stuff in my time, but I’ve learned not to let those mistakes define who I am today. We shouldn’t let our past affect our future. In a negative way at least. If you are a little too hard on yourself for the missteps you may have had, here are 7 strategies to stop being yourself up over past mistakes.
Why Learning To Stop Beating Yourself Up Over Past Mistakes Is Important
Here are some benefits you’ll experience if you stop beating yourself up for past mistakes.
- You’ll be able to move forward.
- Beating yourself up about a mistake in the past will prevent you from moving forward. Deciding to be kind to yourself instead, will help you progress into the future with focus and optimism.
- You’ll experience new opportunities.
- When we mess up, sometimes we may keep ourselves back from things that are good for us. Maybe we feel we don’t deserve good things, or we may feel we may mess things up again. If you stop beating yourself up over past mistakes, you can let that go and embrace new opportunities that come your way.
- You can focus on things that matter.
- Who needs your attention and love right now? Is your grip on your own past preventing you from being there fully for the people you love? Holding on to mistakes not only affects you but can affect the ones who depend on you as well. Stop beating yourself up over past mistakes and give more attention and focus to the things that really matter.
- You’ll become happier.
- Life will become much “lighter” when you become your biggest cheerleader instead of your biggest bully. Your life will change in many ways. For example, you’ll have less worry, less anxiety, more optimism, and become much happier.
There are so many more benefits, but these were just several that I feel are the most important. In the next section, you will learn 7 strategies that will help you stop beating yourself up over past mistakes.
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Stop Beating Yourself Up With These Strategies
1 – Realize No One is Perfect
No one is perfect, so why should you be? Everyone makes mistakes, so if you think you are the only one who has messed up, think again. Every single person you know has a skeleton in their closet and things they wish they could take back. So stop beating yourself up over past mistakes, especiallyif it reminds you that you are not perfect.
If perfectionism is a struggle for you, here are a few things you can do.
- Develop an iterative mentality.
- Think of yourself as a brand new software program or new website. You are not going to be perfect out of the gate. With each iteration, however, you can roll out new features and bug fixes. Remember the iPhone wasn’t perfect when it first came out but over time it got better and better. Think of yourself in the same way.
- Focus on small steps.
- Stay focused on the end goal but don’t obsess about it. Instead, give all your time and energy to your next small step. If you constantly think about the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, it will sabotage your motivation.
- Fall in love with the process.
- You should fall in love with the process of becoming a better human being. Learn to enjoy the journey of personal improvement. If you can do this, there is nothing that will stop you from reaching your end goal.
2 – Silence Your Inner Critic
Our inner critic has a lot of power over our success and happiness. It will tell us, “you aren’t good enough,” “you are a total mess up” or “you don’t deserve good things.” This voice in our head is especially active if we’ve made mistakes. If you want to stop beating yourself up over past mistakes, you must learn to quiet your inner critic when it starts to speak up.
Here are a few things that you can do to silence your negative inner voice.
- Quiet negative self-talk with positive self-talk.
- Whatever your negative inner voice says, repeat an opposite positive affirmation. For example, if it says, “You don’t deserve it”, you say, “I deserve to have good things.” If it says, “You are a screw-up,” you say “I will succeed at anything I put my mind to.” Even if the affirmations aren’t believable to you at first, say them anyway. It will quiet your inner critic and also re-wire your mind to believe in what you say.
- Put your foot down.
- One of the easiest ways to get rid of negative thoughts is to simply ignore them. Don’t let those nasty little voices inside your head run rampant. Just tell them to go take a hike! You can do it! Say “enough already” and make a decision not to listen anymore.
- Pretend your inner critic is not you.
- This may sound silly but when you can learn to separate yourself from the negative voice in your head, it is much easier to keep it quiet. Pretend it’s someone else saying these negative things. You are less likely to tolerate being put down by something that is external to you.
3 – Stop Beating Yourself Up Over Past Mistakes By Learning To Give Yourself Compassion
Imagine that your closest friend is struggling to let go of the past. They are beating themselves up non-stop and you know that it prevents them from recognizing their great qualities and from moving forward in life. What would you say to this friend? Would you say, “yeah you are really a screw-up”? Would you agree with their assessment of themselves and join in on their self-deprecating behavior? No, you wouldn’t. Instead, you would show them compassion and remind them of how great they are. You would show them support, and give them a shoulder to lean on, right?
Treat yourself the same way. To stop beating yourself up over past mistakes, treat yourself like a close personal friend and show yourself some compassion. Imagine that you are talking to your close friend or family member struggling to forgive themselves. Be encouraging to yourself, and give yourself a little grace.
4 – Reach Out To Others Who Care About You
Just as you wouldn’t let your closest friend beat themselves up, they also, in turn, would help you stop beating yourself up. When you are struggling, spend much of your time around those who love and appreciate you. Many people make the mistake of hanging around toxic friends and toxic family. Instead, surround yourself with true friends and family who have your best interest at heart.
Be careful though, because toxic people may not be blatant in putting you down and being discouraging so it can be hard to tell. How do you know if someone is toxic or if someone cares about you? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I hide good news from them or am I anxious to share my good fortune?
- If you have the urge to keep good news to yourself, it’s probably a toxic relationship or friendship. On the other hand, if you can’t wait to let them know the good news, they are more than likely supportive.
- Do I feel physically or emotionally drained after spending time with them?
- Think about how you feel after spending time with someone. Do you feel defeated or less about yourself? If so it will be much harder to stop beating yourself up, especially after a mistake, if you continue to spend time with them. If you feel more energized and better about yourself, however, make sure you spend more time with them. They obviously care about you.
- Is it always about them?
- If you find that they only want to talk about themselves and never about you, it’s probably a toxic situation. People who care about you want to know about you. They are genuinely interested in your successes.
5 – Accept Your Mistake
Next up on the list but could definitely have been first overall is to accept your mistakes. Stop beating yourself up by accepting your mess-ups. Yes, it hurts and there will always be some degree of regret. Just realize it’s all in the past and you can do absolutely nothing to change it but you can change the future. I love the quote by Don Miguel Ruiz that says,
“The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake. The rest of the animals pay only once for every mistake they make. But not us. We have a powerful memory. We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves.”
Stop paying for your mistake. Make amends if possible. Apologize to the person you may have hurt and also to yourself. At the end of the day, you just have to realize that what’s done is done, and you only have control over your next move.
6 – Remember Your Successes
To stop beating yourself over past mistakes you must start remembering your successes. We often focus too much on our failures instead of our accomplishments. It’s important to recognize what you’re proud of in your past. Look back and think about the things you did right. What did you use to dream about having that you now have?
Try to keep your successes at the forefront of your mind, especially when you find that you are beating yourself up. Even the smallest of accomplishments matter. A great way to remember your successes is to keep a journal each night. Right down one or two things from the day that were positive. Did you get up on time? Write that. Did you make someone smile? Write that as well. The key is to fill your journal with your daily wins no matter how small. Over time you’ll begin to see that you are not a mess up, but instead a success story.
7 – Commit To Doing Better
Instead of beating yourself up, use that energy to develop a plan to do better and be better. Learn from your mistakes and commit to doing better. Evaluate what you need to learn, or where you need to improve and get to work.
It’s important that you have a clear direction so that you do not make the same mistakes. If you need help getting this clarity, reach out to your close friends or even the people you may have affected. From there look for resources that will help. There is plenty of information out there (including here on EmpoweredandThriving.com) that will help you on our journey.
We have all made mistakes in life and we all beat ourselves up from time to time. It’s important, however, that we do not let our past prevent us from moving forward and keep us from recognizing our self-worth and potential. If you struggle, stop beating yourself up over past mistakes by realizing no one is perfect, silencing your inner critic, learning to give yourself compassion, and reaching out to others who care about you. You should also accept your mistakes, remember your successes, and commit to doing better.
What mistakes have held you back? Which of these strategies will you try? Let me know in the comments below.