The inexcusable double standard crippling your life

by | January 30, 2012

Desperate for solace and support, your dearest friend [insert name] comes to you in tears, confessing a common mistake, berating him or herself mercilessly.

What do you say?

“Yes, you’re absolutely right. You’ve made a horrible mistake that can never be righted. You will never be forgiven. You are a horrible person. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Your closest friend comes to you drowning in discouragement, on the brink of giving up.

What do you say?

“Yes, you should quit now. It’s only going to get harder. You’re not good enough. You are a loser and you’ll never amount to anything. It’s pointless to even try. What a joke. What were you thinking anyway?”

Good people are undoubtedly repulsed by those incomprehensible responses.

We know that “Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you,” as Elbert Hubbard said.

We agree with Henry Brooks Adams that, “Every man should have a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends.”

We know a friend is one who believes in us when we have ceased to believe in ourselves.

Then why, oh why, do we talk to ourselves in ways we would never dream of talking to our friends?

Why do we offer comfort, support, and encouragement to our friends in times of dire need, then turn around and torment, criticize, and discourage ourselves?

Why do we teach our children to be kind and loving to others, while being harsh and spiteful to ourselves?

Negative self-talk is no more acceptable than gossiping about or tearing down others.

It’s no more true or helpful than what ignorant people would say to criticize our friends.

Our immediate reaction to it should be exactly the same as when we catch our children trashing someone.

Longfellow said,

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”

I think he’s right in what he said, but wrong in what he meant.

We do judge ourselves by our potential — but not to see ourselves as greater than we are, but rather to beat ourselves up.

Not as in, “I could write a beautiful piece of music. I could write a masterpiece novel. I could create a world-changing business. I am wonderful.”

But as in, “I could do all those things. But I haven’t. I’m worthless.”

We learn from sages and proverbs that self-mastery is the ultimate key to achievement and fulfillment.

Proverbs 16:32

“He who rules his spirit has won a greater victory than the taking of a city.”

Lao Tzu

“Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”


“One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand men on the battlefield.”

But these teachings apply to more than just virtue (e.g. guarding against impure thoughts, avoiding addictions, controlling your responses to harm from others or adverse circumstances, etc.).

They also apply to winning the battle against negative self-talk.

We’re not just out of integrity when we disparage others, but also when we disparage ourselves.

Negative self-talk is an inexcusable, hypocritical double standard.

We don’t deserve it any more than our dearest friends deserve to be belittled.

As Tal Ben- Shahar said:

“Why the double standard, the generosity toward our neighbor and the miserliness where we ourselves are concerned? And so I propose that we add a new rule, which we can call the Platinum Rule, to our moral code: ‘Do not do unto yourself what you would not do unto others.'”

And as Goethe said:

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”

This applies to how we treat ourselves, too.

Treat yourself as you would treat your dearest friend.

Uplift, encourage, and motivate yourself. Be your best coach. Inspire yourself to greatness.

When you make mistakes or feel dejected and discouraged, tell yourself exactly what you would tell your friends.

Eliminate the double standard of negative self-talk in your life and watch yourself soar.

Take it from four-year-old Jessica:


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