Too Hard On Myself

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

How do I stop when I dont even notice it? I have had many issues with anxiety over my life, and not once thought about how I treated myself in it. Okay I’ll have to rephrase that, I have considered how self abusive I am, but not in the context of anything else and never been full and upfront with myself about it recently I have just gotten over a bout of intense Depersonalization and Anxiety and Stress. Today I was nearly ‘in my own head’ as far as depersonalization goes, and my anxiety had ceased mostly. I went to see a psychiatrist today, the second time I’ve seen him specifically, and he pointed out the most major observation anyone has ever noted. He pointed out I always say ‘Always’, ‘Never’, ‘Can’t', and more when dealing with social situations and anything possibly emotionally benefiting me or my relationships. I believe the conversation started when I talked to him about my lack of connections with friends and he suggested basically using my artistic ability as a conversation piece by drawing a picture at a library or something–the topic is less relevent than my response, though… I responded with ‘I view it as desperate’. Anyway, further talking revealed that not only am I completely hard on myself, I obsess over the thought that I can never (see there goes the never again) do any thing INTENTIONALLY that might benefit me socially or emotionally –anything other than school or work– and that i try to prove my fears right when I ‘overflow’(let out too much emotion at once) when facing my fears. So we came to the conclusion that this allowed me to hate myself for years more and more until now, which means this is the highest it’s ever been. The problem is I’m also the most perceptive ever too, so I have to hide it that much more from myself. I’m never aware of it so how do I stop it? And how do I allow myself to do something beneficial for me when i’ll do anything to stop myself, even humiliate myself? I don’t mean to sound like i have two personalities, i just mean that… I’m my own worst enemy. And I want to silence the self-loathing critic in me.

A. I believe you are on the right track by talking about your concerns with your psychiatrist. If you can continue working with him, you should. If not, then perhaps you could see a therapist. Counseling is the ideal place to deal with these issues. You have identified the fact that you are very hard on yourself. You were not aware of it until it was pointed out to you by an objective observer. That is exactly why counseling could benefit you. In counseling, the therapist is an objective observer. He or she works with you to become more aware of the way you are thinking. In cognitive therapy, for instance, the therapist analyzes the client’s thinking to determine if his or her thoughts are illogical. The ultimate goal is to replace the illogical thoughts with logical thoughts. That is an oversimplification of cognitive therapy but generally speaking, the goal is to help the client to see reality clearly.

It is important to be realistic. If your judgment is impaired, then it will lead to incorrect conclusions and mistakes. This may lead to many problems in life. It is important to make as few mistakes as possible. That is because we pay for our mistakes. There are consequences when we make mistakes. Choosing the wrong mate could lead to divorce. Choosing the wrong career could lead to a life of misery, and so forth. We cannot be completely free of mistakes because no one is perfect but ideally one should strive to make as few as possible. Think of it as self-preservation.

Your psychiatrist suggested using your art as a way to connect with people. You viewed that as being “desperate.” That is a shame because it is a good idea. Your reaction may be related to a negative self-opinion.

Ultimately the goal is to have a realistic opinion of yourself and your abilities. It is not healthy to overstate or understate your abilities. If you’re having difficulty recognizing your abilities then counseling is recommended. It is a problem that you can overcome. Thank you for your question.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Feb 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Too Hard On Myself. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/02/03/too-hard-on-myself/