Berating ourselves for not winning the game of life

Growth is not when we stop making mistakes, it’s when we stop beating the shit out of ourselves for making them. 

Once we learn to eliminate that hostile tendency, we become unstoppable. Not even our own inner critic can keep us down. 

Buddhists have a phrase for this response called the second arrow. The teachings tell us that the first arrow is what is. It’s something comes with the territory of being alive. But the second arrow is the sense of unworthiness we inflict upon ourselves. It’s the constant, critical and uncompassionate evaluation of everything we are experiencing. 

And that’s a choice we make. We choose beat ourselves up mercilessly, calling names, pointing fingers and essentially treating ourselves in a manner that we would never stand for from somebody else. 

We choose to berate ourselves for not winning the game of life, making the cognitive mistake of keeping score of our missteps and failures.

This second arrow has harmful implications. Powers conducted the preeminent study on the dangers of beating ourselves up in a clinical psychology journal. His research found that overly harsh self criticism has been showed to undermine motivation, impede progress towards goals and increase procrastination. 

Turns out, the arrows we carry around are blocking our ability to contribute. 

And it’s true, beating ourselves up can feel quite good. Doing so gives us a chance to play the victim, earn attention and sympathy from others, divert our eyes from the real issue, escape the consequences of our mistakes and distract us from taking action. What’s not to like? 

But since making mistakes is part of learning to choose well, let’s not make life any more painful than it already is. Let’s forgive ourselves for being human and get back to work. 

The big yellow bird was right when he sang, everyone makes mistakes, oh yes they do, big people, small people, matter of fact, all people, everyone makes mistakes, so why can’t you? 


Are you still beating yourself up for not winning the game of life? 

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

It’s the world’s first, best and only product development and innovation gameshow!

Tune in and subscribe for a little execution in public.

Join our community of innovators, artists and entrepreneurs


Daily updates straight to your inbox.


Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
Sign up for daily updates


Daily updates straight to your inbox.

Copyright ©2020 HELLO, my name is Blog!