Why Are We So Hard On Ourselves?

The other day I came across a picture of me taken about 15 years ago in a bikini.  Oh!  What I would give to have that 20-something, pre-child-baring body back right now!  My boobs were perky, my skin was less wrinkled, everything was thinner and my ass was definitely about 2” higher than it is now.  There wasn’t one gray hair in sight.  I looked good!!  The CRAZY part is that I remember that trip and that bathing suit from 15 years ago and also remember feeling totally self-conscious about my body.  What a WASTE!  If only I knew then what I know now, right?  But, still to this day, I have issues with my body.   Unless you are Jennifer Anniston or Gweneth Paltrow, don’t we all?  My issues are silly little issues I just need to get OVER already.  What’s the point?  Why are we always so hard on ourselves?

As a mom, I find myself falling into the same trap of “judging myself” about raising my kids.  Oh crap, is my son going to turn into the unibomber because I don’t play with him enough?  Is my daughter going to be malnourished because I rushed her out the door this morning with a frozen waffle?  Will my son turn into a pimp because I throw out the F bomb and play my dirty rap music way to often?  Will my kids grow up with terrible hygiene because I haven’t made them take a shower for a week?  Am I terrible because my daughter wanted to cuddle with me tonight but all I could think about was watching Grey’s Anatomy?   Why does everyone else seem to have it sooo together and I’m rushing around like a crazy lady from one commitment to the next?  How does everyone keep their house so clean and their kids so well mannered?  Why can’t I do this better and that quicker and be more patient and have whiter teeth and work out more and cook better and be EVERYTHING to EVERYONE and why, why, why???

(Channeling my inner Oprah)  Maybe its time for us all to s-l-o-w down, sit back and enjoy ourselves for just a minute.  Kick those negative thoughts HARD in the ass and appreciate the amazing things we’ve accomplished and the beauty that makes us unique.  Even those flaws.  Come on ladies.  Don’t demand perfection or even near-perfection.  Demand more sleep, more baths, more laughing, more peaceful walks, more massages and more girl time.  Embrace, forgive, appreciate and love yourself.  What’s the alternative?

Ever since I was little, I’ve kept a journal of funny & inspirational poems that really resonate with me.  I still add to the journal and get it out often when I need a good laugh or a quick pick me up. My all-time-favorite poem in the journal is an old Nike poem that that challenges all those negative thoughts in our minds.  I can’t tell you when or where I found this, only that it’s been in my Poem Journal for decades. The writer(s) of this poem, in my mind, are complete genius.  It’s a long quote, but it’s SO AMAZING.  Take the time to really read it, and you will be inspired to appreciate yourself more.  I PROMISE!  In fact, we should all print it out and tape it to our bathroom mirrors.  I have read this poem zillions of times and I still get the chills every single time.


Why are we so hard on ourselves and so much easier on others? Did somebody say something once that stuck in our brains and won’t go away? Did we mispronounce something in French, did we trip in front of some guy, did we make some huge mistake that we’ve never gotten over?

What haunts our fine bodies and our fine hearts and makes our heads spin with an image of ourselves we can’t accept? We tell our friends not to be so hard on themselves and we tell our loved ones not to be so hard on themselves and we tell ourselves we’re just not being hard enough.

We are such funny women sometimes. We blame ourselves when blame does not apply (terrible word, that blame). We feel guilty about what we should have done better (terrible word, that should). We are harder on ourselves, harder than we would be on anybody else, anybody. Complete strangers! Big dogs!  People we don’t even like!

And the things we expect are so darn weird, things our mothers once said we should be able to do or our fathers wanted us to achieve or our great Aunt Charlotte wanted us to try and they didn’t know that their words would stick like glue to our hearts with a list of expectations wrapped around it.

Look: all these expectations get old, real old, and only you know when to yell uncle.  Uncle. Uncle. Uncle.  Because for one moment of your life you feel like feeling … perfect. You feel like dashing into those hills or those open roads or right into the air itself and that’s just what you might do so HA!  You feel like that rusty old image you carry is slipping away, right over the edge of a mirror and out of view. You feel like moving and if you trip, you trip, if you fall, you will get up. And the air feels like it will carry you and push you and it’s like nothing you feared it would be.

And of course everything you expected it would.

Just do it.


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  1. Darra Trudell says:

    Love you, Jen! Thanks for the fabulous article! You are a wonderful writer and I can totally see you saying these things. You write like you talk, and that’s very refreshing. I hope you’re having a lot of fun with your new blog. Congrats! xoxo

    • Thanks so much, Dara! I miss you! It’s been way too long!

    • Rob Kolesar says:

      I know this is 2016 and years past the original quote but does anyone know where I can find an actual copy of this ad? It would mean so much to me as I want to present it to my five sisters … thank you
      Rob Kolesar …

  2. Erin Labmeier says:

    In the spirit of this blog, I have to share my story of the day… I was rushing around as usual, doing 5 things ar once, including putting groceries away, late yet again, when I spilled blackberries ALL over the floor. They rolled everywhere, into every crevice in the kitchen. NOT what I needed to happen. So of course I dealt with the situation in my usual way: throwing out a loud f-bomb. I felt better, but then immediately guilty because my 5-yr-old son was home. But just as I was thinking “what a terrible mother I am”, I heard a little voice call from the other room “Mommy, not a nice word!”. I had to laugh. Even though we all feel like we’re doing a subpar job, in reality, we’re doing okay 🙂

    Love you and love your blog, Jen! xoxo

  3. I love this. I love your blog. you’re doing such a great job! I’m so glad you’re my sisterwife and not some other asshole. Well, not that I’m calling YOU an asshole. You know what I mean. By the way, when I was young and skinny (pre-baby) my very old grandmother once told me to “take lots of naked pictures of yourself because you’re not alway going to look this good”. I wish I would have listsned because I’m not sure my husband believes me. xoxo

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