Why are we so hard on ourselves?
We fight a battle within ourselves every day. If we haven't worked a lot this week, we are lazy. If we worked too much we are a neglectful parent, pet owner, or partner.
We strive to fit this perfect archetype that doesn't even exist. But why?
We hold ourselves accountable for things we cannot control, we refuse to give ourselves a break, and we drive our bodies into the ground for an old-age pension that we won’t get to enjoy because we will be too decrepit from working so much to make use of our newfound free time.
We refuse to get help when we are impacted by trauma, saying “I’ll get through it on my own,” as if we don’t deserve to heal.
We are punishing ourselves by becoming martyrs, but why?
Why Are We So Hard on Ourselves?
“People find the expression of emotion, even if it’s sadness, to be a pleasant experience.”
-“Believing in Magic”, Dr. Stuart Vyse
I’ve always noticed that the people who are hardest on themselves are the ones with the harshest “inner critic,” and pushing themselves is a way to silence this tiny naysayer.
Your inner critic is that voice that sounds in your mind whenever things aren't going your way. It is usually has a negative tone, and criticizes you for things you can—and cannot control.
Some people have a stronger inner critic than others.
I believe that some of this self-punishing behavior is generational, our elders seem to take pride in overworking and not looking after themselves, probably because hard work was ingrained in them from a very young age.
To them, pain is gain. My father never had a real childhood, at the age of 5, he was working at a farm until his tiny hands bled. Now he works for “fun” on his days off and he has yet to retire although he’s in his 60’s and could afford to leave at any time. A hard-working life is all he knows.
Some people of the past generations see mental illness as a weakness, gossip fodder, and something that doesn't impact them, even if they are, themselves, deeply mentally scarred.