Curated By
Dr. Joel Wong

Dr. Joel Wong is a professor and the director of the Counseling Psychology Program at Indiana University. Dr. Wong graduated with a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Asian American Psychological Association. His research interests are in positive psychology (especially encouragement and gratitude), men and masculinities, and Asian American mental health.

They Might Be Thinking:

  • My best is just not good enough. 
  • I don’t live up to my own standards. 
  • I have very high expectations of myself. 
  • I beat myself up when I don’t accomplish my goals.  
  • I am never content with my achievements.
  • I rarely meet my own expectations.  
  • I’m upset with myself for not meeting my goals. 
  • Trying my best isn’t good enough for me. 
  • I get anxious when I’m not the best. 
  • I find it unacceptable to make mistakes. 
  • After completing a task, I keep thinking I could have done it better. 
  • If I can’t do a good job, I don’t see the point in completing the task. 
  • I’m worried that I’m not doing enough. 
  • If I’m not succeeding at the highest level, I feel like a loser. 

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • I can imagine that it’s exhausting for you to constantly be striving for something better. 
  • I can tell that you care deeply about getting things done well. 
  • I accept you for who you are.
  • I don’t judge you for your mistakes. 
  • Your weaknesses and failures make you more relatable, and I find that I can identify with you better.
  • I like you for all that you are, and that includes your weaknesses and failures in addition to your strengths and accomplishments. 
  • I believe in your potential to become more self-accepting. 
  • I can see that you’re trying to figure out how to balance appropriate high standards with being more compassionate toward yourself. 
  • You’re learning how to maintain high standards without sacrificing your well-being. 
  • I hope that you’ll see the same strengths in yourself that I see in you, such as [describe the recipient’s strengths]. 
  • I’m here to support you in your journey toward self-acceptance. 

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself!
  • Why do you hold yourself to such high standards?
  • You should just relax!
  • It’s really okay to fail occasionally.
  • Everyone will stumble from time to time; it’s not a big deal!
  • You’re a bit too obsessed with success. 
  • You worry too much. 
  • You’re trying to do too many things. 
  • You should lower your standards; you’re too ambitious.
  • You’re already so successful; why are you beating yourself up?
  • Just live in the moment, and let tomorrow worry about itself. 
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