This post may contain affiliate links.
Hey, sweet friend! I'm so glad you're here today.
Tell me, do you keep beating yourself up over dumb things you've done? or about all too frequent mistakes or bad habits or sins? Have you ever wondered how to stop beating yourself up? Or even thought about WHY you should stop beating yourself up?
Or does someone you dearly love keep beating themselves up and you totally hurt for them and can see how this is negatively affecting them?
Well, read on, my friend. I have some really powerful things to share with you that have totally transformed my life and will certainly help you and those you love.
The battle is real
It can look this this:
"Oh, man! I did it again! Am I EVER gonna get over this? Sheesh. I can't get this one thing right in my life - how am I ever gonna get anything else right?! Ugh... There's just no way," and on goes the discouraging spiral...
Do you ever feel like this? Sometimes we all feel this way, or something like it. And sometimes it's daily, or even hourly.
We make a mistake, or fail at something, or commit a sin - again - and down comes the barrage of discouragement, serious negativity, ill speaking of self, self-loathing... in essence, the beating has begun.
But that's just the way life is, isn't it?!
Yes, it is.
And, no, it's not.
Let me explain.
We do stuff. We mess up. We struggle. We fall. We fail. It hurts. We feel discouraged. We feel angry. We feel like giving up. Etc, etc, etc.
This is real life. Yes, it happens to Everyone. Just about every day.
But the truth is, we are here to learn to overcome as much of this as possible. (Enter another cue for something to add to our 'I'm failing at that, too' list, right?)
Here's the hard truth:
Just because it's soooo natural to feel angry, or discouraged, or whatever we might feel, and just because it's soooo natural to get down on ourselves for what we've done, it doesn't mean that's the only way to deal with things.
Just because I failed at something and so naturally go to a place in my head where I feel depressed or hateful toward myself, doesn't mean that's the only way to deal with the failure.
It's all definitely the easiest way. All that junk just overcomes you, like a flood.
But think about this: When you were a tiny baby, it was totally natural to mess your pants. -Pause for effect. - It's just the way things naturally happen. But thankfully you learned a better way, through trial and error, to deal with these natural messes in life.
So just because all of these awful feelings are so totally real and so overwhelming, and come so very naturally and so very fast, we need to know there's a better way to deal with them.
How in the world do you do that?!
That's what we're here to examine, friend. Please stay with me as I walk you through this surefire path to freedom from all the negative and oftentimes abusive self-talk that rattles through our heads.
So first, we're going to look at WHY we should stop beating ourselves up because real change comes when we understand why we might want to do something, and then we'll get into the HOW to actually do it, which will then be much more effective. Are you ready?
WHY you should stop beating yourself up
Should we go ahead and stone you?
That's what the people wanted to do who brought the woman taken in adultery to the Savior.
She deserved to be stoned.
She felt ashamed. Scared. She felt alone. Perhaps even hopeless. Fearful. Lost.
But what did the Savior do? He quietly, yet powerfully loved her. He clearly and gently reminded everyone else that they, too, desired mercy and grace. And the accusers went away humbled.
The woman who was so forcefully accused waited upon the Lord, who loved her, accepted her, forgave her, and lovingly encouraged her to go and sin no more. (Watch this lovely video of this great compassion below.)
What if we could see ourselves the same way the Savior saw her?
What if we, in the full view of our mistakes, our sins, our shortcomings, could see ourselves as the beloved child of God that we are.
One who is here on earth to experience challenging things, learn, struggle, fall, and learn to get back up through the atonement of Jesus Christ - which is gracefully and abundantly available to us every minute of every day - on purpose - because he knew we'd need it.
Can we not also see ourselves as worth forgiving, as worth loving and accepting - even in the middle of our mess ups, our sins, our less-than-perfect moments?
Because that's how the Lord sees us.
We need to understand the difference between worth and worthiness.
Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.”3
On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less! We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth intact.
Joy D. Jones
"Value Beyond Measure"
One of the biggest lies in this world is that you are less loved/lovable or worth less in the sight of God if you keep on making mistakes.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
So what is the truth?
One of the greatest truths in this world is that God loves you so much - no matter what you do or how many times you do it - that he gave his Only Begotten Son to help you every minute of every day, to not only recognize your sins and shortcomings, but to also have power given to you to give them away - to him.
To give away your pains, your sorrows, your fears, your failures, your sins, your all-too-common mistakes and shortcomings, and ask him to take them from you.
To plead to God in the name of our Savior for help to overcome. For power to come off conqueror.
And he will help you.
Give these things away and LET him take them.
Trust that he will.
And as you move forward in faith (in other words - not continuing to beat yourself up) trusting him and hoping for peace and power to change and improve, IT WILL COME. I know this to be true.
What happens when we keep beating ourselves up?
This is what happens:
We all make mistakes/sin/mess up time after time after time. We feel so bad. It hurts. Tremendously at times. We hate it. We hate ourselves. We are not only disappointed in ourselves but we have likely disappointed others.
We feel it keenly. We get down on ourselves. We see all the things we do wrong and these ugly stories just keep running through our heads.
We tend to withdraw ourselves from others so we either don't hurt/disappoint them again, or be reminded of our weaknesses again. We often quit trying and put up walls to protect us.
You see, beating yourself up pulls you out of the game. It separates you from your epic life. It closes you off to the ones you love and those who love you. It blocks your growth. It blocks your freedom. It blocks your potential. In other words, it dams you.
We've got to see all of this for what it is. It's first a natural human response, then it's also very plainly part of Satan's plan and he gets in there and loves to stir up the pot. He wants us to focus on our weaknesses so much that we beat ourselves up. He wants us out of the game of life.
And all of this stuff PILES on us, becoming heavier and heavier. And it's harder and harder to make it through each day.
What we can spiritually & emotionally look like when we keep beating ourselves up.
Here's a super cool visual to see what happens when we keep beating ourselves up instead of giving things up to the Savior, the true Shepherd.
A sheep was separated from his fold for over 5 years, and when found he was totally overgrown with so much wool that his health and life was endangered. They shaved off over 40 kilos of wool which is the equivalent of 89 pounds.
Here's the story on CNN "Shearer Saves Lost Sheep from Woolly Death".
And below is another video about the story. Pay special attention to what the woman says who starts speaking at 1:07.
Need more help to understand?
OK. Here are two short analogies to help you see this from different angles:
Not accepting this is like being on a boat out in the middle of the ocean and for whatever reason finding yourself overboard, treading water, hoping you're not going to become shark food, and you resist the life preserver that was just thrown to you because you don't feel you deserve it and choose to keep beating yourself up for falling overboard in the first place.
What would happen if an Olympic athlete were to fall down during their epic race and stay sitting there to beat themself up? Have you ever seen that happen? I guess it's possible that it has happened, but I've never seen it.
These athletes have been trained to keep their eye on their goal - no matter what happens. If they fall they know to immediately get back up and run the very best they can.
They learn their lesson, make corrections, drop the defeat, and get moving again.
To get back up and run is remarkable in and of itself.
What do you think is going on it their head at this point?
Here are a couple of scenarios and I invite you to consider the outcome:
A: They fall, get up to run and think, "Man, I blew it! I can't believe I fell! There goes the gold medal. There's no hope now..."
B: They fall, get up and run and think, "OK, now, get a grip on yourself. You've got this. Keep going. Remember your training..."
In each of these scenarios, how well would the athlete run? Would one scenario prove more effective than the other? You bet it would. The athlete in scenario B would simply excel and overcome.
When we keep beating ourselves up, we are essentially saying, "I know I keep praying for help to overcome these things, but I don't believe I'm worth helping" -or- "my stuff is too big for the Lord."
The affects are real.
Consider the boat and life preserver analogy from above. Perhaps it really is possible, and powerful, to not only recognize you've fallen overboard, but to also accept the life preserver, grab on firmly, and let it pull you to safety.
Then, through the eyes of the Savior's perfect love, see yourself as worth saving. As worth loving and accepting - mess and all. As it being worth it to try again and again.
As we learn to approach our mistakes, weaknesses, sins, and shortcomings in this Light, we can get back on the boat, brush ourselves off, repent, and forgive ourselves. Then go ahead and engage fully in life and with the people around us, extending love and acceptance to them as well, knowing that every one of us is truly trying our best.
Here's the powerful truth: It is in this Light that inspiration can come to help us see how to change and strength can come to help us do it.
I've experienced this over and over in my life. It has made all the difference.
HOW to stop beating yourself up
First of all, here's how NOT to try to stop beating yourself up:
- Push it down
- Swallow the pain, the frustration, the anger, and discouragement
- Sweep it under the rug and just think positive
- Ignore it
- Justify and defend it
- Pretend it's not there
- Accept that this is just they way you are
- Just go about your day hoping that it will all disappear
To truly stop beating yourself up, there is work involved, but you need to trust me that it is the very best kind of work you can do in this regard. Nothing else will work. THIS WILL.
You see, there is only one way, and that is through the atonement of Jesus Christ. For he "is the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6)
But this one way works.
I know because I've experienced it time and time again in my own life.
So, how do you actually stop beating yourself up?
There are certainly many ways to engage in the great gift of the atonement of Jesus Christ. The following is how I personally do it and teach my kids to do it to help us stop beating ourselves up:
Step 1 - Recognize it's happening
Recognize when you are beating yourself up. Wow. See the ugliness with which you treat yourself. This is hard and so very uncomfortable. It's easier to just blindly beat yourself up than it is to look at yourself while doing it. But be brave. You don't have to dwell here for long, but be sure to See it for what it is.
Step 2 - Choose to remember
In that moment, choose to remember that the Savior's atonement is more real than you probably realize, and CHOOSE to stop the beating.
Step 3 - Immediately pray, fervently
Immediately reach out to Heavenly Father in fervent prayer. Be honest. Meaning, say something like this, "Heavenly Father, I've done it again. I keep messing up ______ and I feel so terrible. I feel like such a jerk..."
Step 4 - Be specific & Give it to him
Be specific with what you are feeling. For example, "I feel so discouraged and hateful about myself. I give this discouragement and hate away, please take them from me."
Step 5 - Keep looking & Identify the junk
After all, you don't want to keep ANY of it. "I feel stupid and like such a failure. I really hate that I keep doing this. Heavenly Father, I choose to give away feeling stupid, and feeling like a failure, and the hate I feel. Please take them from me..."
Step 6- Is there more?
If so, keep going: "I feel so sad about all of this. So defeated. So worthless. I willingly choose to give away sad, defeated, and worthless. Please take them from me."
A side note:
One morning I woke up feeling so rotten about so many things. There were so many junky emotions inside of me that I felt overwhelmed by it all. So I prayed, "Heavenly Father, there is so much junk inside of me. Can I please just give away all of the junk inside of me?" And immediately I heard, "Name them one by one." Sigh.
So I did - in list format: "Heavenly Father, I willingly choose to give away fear, anger, hate, sadness, doubt, grumpy, ignored, uncared for, discouraged, lifeless, overwhelmed, ..........." and kept going until I couldn't identify any more junk in me.
Then I continued, "Would thou please take these things from me? And please, would thou fill me with thy love? For myself and for others? I thank thee so much for helping me. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
Step 7- Forgive yourself - This is VITAL
Yup. This one can be hard. How can we forgive ourselves?! We keep messing up over and over and over again! Even if I forgive myself, I'm just going to mess up again... Well, my friend, this step is SOOO vital and powerful.
You see, we are commanded by God to forgive all men.
And this, dear friend, includes yourself.
(D&C 64:9-10, Mark 11:25-26, Luke 6:37, Matthew 18:21-35, Mosiah 26:30-31, 3 Nephi 13:9-15, D&C 64:9-11, D&C 82:1)
This is serious stuff, friend. Just do it. Forgive yourself. Sometimes it's easier to forgive someone else than yourself. But you must do it, for your own welfare.
Like this, "Dear Heavenly Father, I keep doing _____, I am so sorry. I forgive myself. Would thou please forgive me?..."
Have you thought about your prayers when you've asked for forgiveness before, that you need to forgive yourself as well? This is so important and so powerful.
Forgive yourself often. Not only in prayer. Do it all throughout the day. In the moment. Whenever you mess up. Whenever you lose your temper. Etc, etc, etc. Just forgive.
Doing so will actually HELP you see better ways of doing things. It will HELP you repent and change. It will help you behave better. Friend, it will help everything.
Step 8- Do it again and again and again...
Be ready and willing to do this every time junk comes up. This is like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, and yes, sometimes it makes us cry. But it's so worth it.
It doesn't cost anything, it doesn't take much time. It's like recalibrating mid-flight so you can fly more straight.
Think about this: Would you rather empty out the garbage frequently or would you rather be the garbage dump?
Step 9- TRUST
Trust God. Trust that even though you may end your prayer and still feel junky inside, that Heavenly Father has heard your prayer and he is helping you. He knows and loves you perfectly and absolutely wants the best for you. His blessings are often just waiting for you to ask for them. Just TRUST him.
Step 10- Get up and go to work
Get your shield of faith up and your sword of truth in hand. (Eph. 6:16) And go through the day working to see the good, to do good, and serve and love well. Look to see God's hand in your life. Practice loving others, yourself, and your life. It's beautiful. Really.
Step 11- Choose to see yourself as God sees you
Let me say that again: CHOOSE to see yourself as God sees you. Ask him to help you see yourself as he sees you. Repeatedly, throughout your life.
If he were sitting beside you I can guarantee he would shine so much light and love and acceptance on you that you couldn't contain it all.
- He believes in you.
- He has faith in you.
- He encourages you.
- He's cheering you on.
- He forgives you.
- He wants you to be happy.
- He wants you to feel his love.
- He wants you to love yourself.
- He wants you to love others.
- He knows who you truly are.
- He sees your divine worth. Even in the middle of your mess ups.
- He respects you.
- He honors you.
- He loves you completely.
Download a beautiful, printable copy of this Step by Step Guide to Help You Stop Beating Yourself Up.
Look at this process like weeding a garden.
In a garden, you plant the things you want to grow. You give your garden water, sunlight, and good nutrients.
Then weeds start popping up. Do you sit there and dwell on the weeds and get mad at yourself for having so many weeds in your garden?
Nope. You pull them out and throw them away. Every single one of them.
If you don't, what happens?
The weeds would grow and grow and begin to take over all the good things you have in your garden. The weeds can even choke the very life out of them.
This is the same with us and our mistakes and sins. They are the weeds. And so are the junky emotions we feel about them. In this mortal life they will pop up in our garden. It's a given. This is just a part of being mortal.
Should we berate the garden for letting the weeds in? again? and every time they do?
Well, that would be counterproductive and ineffective.
Just know that the garden of our lives has so many beautiful things growing and is worth so much. We are so valuable.
And know that because of our mortal nature, weeds are gonna pop up. Over and over again. And some of them are really nasty weeds and they send out shoots and are super resistant to being pulled.
But pull we must.
And we can only do it with the help of the Master Gardener.
And with his help we CAN have these weeds pulled out.
Ahhhh, doesn't that sound better than beating yourself up?
There's work involved either way-
- the work and anguish of beating yourself up, which always leaves you feeling worse. And that junk just stays in you all the time, raring its ugly head now and then.
- or the work and struggle of pulling the weeds, giving them to the Savior, which always leaves you feeling better and hopeful, and you become more free and open and alive in the process.
You are so worth it! Because there is an abundance of good and beautiful in you!
The anatomy of a self-beating:
The catalyst: the mistake/bad habit/sin
The tools with which we beat ourself up: the negative thoughts & emotions such as anger, disdain, self-loathing, and doubt
A true story about me...
Yes, my goal is to recognize these mistakes and all the negative feelings that come with them and give them away, praying to have them taken from me until they are no longer a part of me. No longer a default behavior or emotion that comes up. Or at least, very minimally.
You see, I have first hand experience with this course of action I've described in this article. These things are true and it's highly effective.
I won't go into all the detail for it is quite a long story, but years ago I had a pretty strong temper. I yelled at my kids. I could easily and skillfully 'nail my kids to the wall' with my words. At that time in my life I actually believed that kids wouldn't behave unless you yelled at them.
I came to a point where I began to see that I was wrong and that yelling at them and being so quick to anger was wrong. So I set everything in motion I could to try to stop.
I tried. And failed. Urrghh.... I tried, failed again. Ugh! I tried, failed miserably! Over and over and over again. For months! And boy, did it hurt!
I remember praying one day and telling the Lord, "I don't choose to get angry! It just automatically wells up in me and gushes out!" And he replied, "But you can choose not to."
What would have happened if every time I failed I chose to beat myself up? My progress would have been seriously halted or completely blocked.
But thankfully, I know this process of giving my junk to the Lord. Ohhh, the struggle is real. I had to decide how seriously I wanted this. I had to decide how powerful I believed God was.
And you know what? Through my very devoted efforts to stop yelling and pleading for and receiving much grace from above, I did stop.
That anger is no longer a part of me. It's gone.
I am a totally different person than I was then.
Things that used to make me mad and pop off my lid don't even bother me any more.
Situations that come up in life that used to make me angry and justify my yelling no longer trigger me.
I respond completely different now.
Peacefully, playfully, calmly, joyfully, with understanding. I'm more composed, thoughtful, patient, kind....
I am a completely different person in this regard.
- - - Anger weeds gone.
When you learn how to stop beating yourself up - in other words, stop wielding the tools of all the negative thoughts and emotions against yourself- you are much more open and able to receive divine help to actually overcome your mistakes, bad habits, and sins.
This is powerful!
Please accept this invitation.
So I'm here to plead with you to take seriously this invitation to stop beating yourself up. Getting all over yourself for your failures is not the only way to deal with things in life. There's a better way - a much better way.
A way that leads to more peace, faith, grace, power, overcoming, freedom, hope, love, joy, better behavior, better circumstances, a better life.
Who doesn't want all of that?!
Trust me, friend.
The bad habit of beating yourself up has got to go. It's just that - a bad habit - and only that.
You really can have tough things happen in your life and work through things more peacefully.
You really can mess up, make mistakes, fail, and navigate those troubled waters much more safely and effectively. To a much better outcome.
Doing the things we've talked about here will actually help propel you forward in your efforts to change, repent, and overcome. To come out victor.
I've seen it in my life. Over and over.
I'd absolutely love for you to experience this in your life as well.