Business Insider Edition

9 signs you're being too hard on yourself

Julia Guerra , Business Insider US
 Mar 06, 2019, 03:53 PM
If you find yourself never being able to meet your goals, they may be set too high.
Ron Batzdorff/NBC
  • Sometimes you might put too much pressure on yourself without realising it.
  • Being too hard on yourself can cause you to feel mental and physical stress.
  • Some signs you're being too hard on yourself include engaging in negative self-talk or having trouble sleeping.

Although striving to be the best you can be isn't necessarily a bad thing, if you're constantly setting high standards for yourself, it could take a toll on your mental and physical health.

Here are some signs you're being a bit too hard on yourself and may want to give yourself a break.

Your internal monologue is extremely negative

Vinay Saranga, MD, a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry, told INSIDER that oftentimes one of the first signs someone is being too hard on themselves is when they begin using negative, pessimistic language to describe themselves and their life.

He told INSIDER that some of these common negative self-talk phrases include: "I'm just not good enough to … ," "I wish I could be as good as … ," and "Things don't usually go my way."

You feel overwhelmingly disappointed and angry when the expectations you've set for yourself are not met

Saranga told INSIDER that when you're not meeting your self-imposed expectations, you may become hostile, angry, and upset. You may also struggle to deal with overwhelming feelings of disappointment and beliefs that nothing will ever be good enough.

You frequently find yourself slumping and slouching in your seat

"Someone's posture definitely takes a toll when it comes to self-criticism," Katie Sandler, an impact coach, told INSIDER. "One may have a difficult time carrying themselves assertively."

In a 2012 Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, explained that how you feel can influence your posture. According to Cuddy, if you're feeling powerless you might slouch and make yourself small and if you're feeling powerful, you might stand up straight with your head held high.

So if you've been harshly criticising yourself a lot lately and it's been making you feel down, you might find yourself sitting and standing a bit differently.

Your emotional stress has begun to manifest itself as physical symptoms

If your tough inner-critic is causing you to experience long-term mental and emotional stress, it could begin to impact on different parts of your body.

A study presented at the 2014 American Academy of Neurology and reported by Self found that the more stress you're under, the more headaches you're likely to get. Sandler also said that having high stress levels may weaken your immune system and cause you to get sick more frequently.

Your sleep cycle and exhaustion levels are being impacted

Trying to live up to anyone's expectations, be it your own or someone else's, can be exhausting. So some people who are constantly too hard on themselves might feel tired throughout the day and find it easy to fall into a deep sleep at night, psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., author of "Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today" told INSIDER.

Being too hard on yourself can have the opposite impact on your sleep cycle, too, Tessina added. She said if your mind is involved in a constant loop of negative self-talk and worry, sleep might not come easy or at all.

You begin to question whether or not people really like you

Being very self-critical can impact how you feel about yourself. And that, in turn, can influence how you think others perceive you. "When you don't like yourself, you expect that others won't like you," Tessina told INSIDER. She said if you begin to think poorly about yourself, you might also feel suspicious of anyone who seems to like you.

You stop taking proper care of yourself

If you're too focused on one part of your life, you might neglect a different aspect of it.
Paramount Pictures

Dr. Sherry Benton, psychologist, mental health care administrator and the founder and chief science officer of TAO Connect, told INSIDER that how you feel about yourself can sometimes begin to reflect in the way that you take care of yourself.

"When we are engaging in a healthy, balanced life, we tend to have a number of sources of well-being: physical activity, social connections, sources of meaning and purpose, healthy nutrition and sleep, spiritual activities and purposeful work," she said. According to Benton, if someone becomes overly focused on one of those things, they may neglect other aspects of their life and begin to feel worse over time.

You start to expect less of yourself

Failing to meet high, self-imposed standards time and time again could make you feel disappointed, which, licensed clinical psychologist, Carly Claney, Ph.D. told INSIDER, may eventually cause you to expect less of yourself.

"If you constantly feel like you're disappointing yourself or not meeting your own expectations, it can feel meaningless to keep trying. This leads you to [feel] like you've failed before you've even tried," Claney said.

You constantly feel tense and on-edge

Some people who are too hard on themselves can become short-circuited and feel unable to focus, NYC-based neuropsychologist and teaching faculty at Columbia University, Dr. Sanam Hafeez told INSIDER.

She said someone who's being hard on themselves "may walk and talk quickly with an energy rooted in fear" and they may also feel like they'll miss out on something if they don't meet their expectations quickly enough.

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