Your inner critic is too strong to shut up and let you love yourself for what you are. Self-criticism is a harmful habit you desperately want to overcome, but don’t know where to start. Here’s help.
What Is Self-Criticism?
Self-criticism is your act of constantly criticizing the mistakes and shortcomings in your own life. It is your harshly judgmental and unsympathetic behavior toward yourself.
According to Thompson and Zuroff, there are two types of self-criticism:
- Comparative Self-Criticism (CSC) and
- Internalized Self-Criticism (ISC).
Some amount of self-criticism is healthy, and helps you learn from your mistakes. But if your self-criticism levels are toxic-level-high, it stops you from taking decisions, starting new projects, and trusting your abilities.
Studies show the tendency to self-criticize is not necessarily caused by low self-esteem. It may also stem from the desire for perfection. But, whatever the driver behind it, there’s no denying high self-criticism creates a negative mindset leading to discontentment and distress.
A harsh self-branding is one of the rotten fruits of self-criticism. When you criticize yourself often, you learn to associate the most hurtful words, such as “stupid,” with yourself. You then tend to say these:
- You never know anything because you’re stupid.
- You always make stupid decisions.
- Your whole life is stupid.
How To Put A Stop To Self-Criticism
First things first: Know that help is available. You can turn to the providers of psychological and counseling services who can assist you in turning your self-criticism into self-compassion, empowerment, and contentment. You can get their help to stop your damaging self-criticism habit.
Plus, there are practical tips you can easily work into your everyday life to take small but sure steps towards a healthier mental and emotional well-being. Here are seven steps to help you overcome your self-criticism habit:
1. Be aware of the inclination to critique yourself
When you become aware of the negative thoughts, the complaining, and the comparisons, which are all just different facets of self-criticism, you shift to becoming an observer.
As an observer, you extricate yourself from the negative behavior and gain the ability to put the situation in a more logical perspective.
2. Be more honest and open to yourself
Every time you hear that scrutinizing voice inside, try sharing it with somebody who cares about you. The loving voice of a parent, sibling, friend, or partner can hush that negative voice.
Also, if an unkind comment from someone triggers your self-criticism, talk to the person about how her comment makes you feel. You may find you may not have fully understood what she meant, and you just let your imagination run wild. Plus, it presents an opportunity to iron things out.
3. Focus on the value of your work instead of getting praise from others
Although compliments and praises can validate what you do, they do not necessarily depict the true value of your work. For instance, if your job made things less burdensome for someone, this is great value. Or, if you assisted in finding a solution to a problem in any way, this is value as well.Compliments from others may not depict the true value of your work. People may be lying to you, or trying not to hut you. Click To Tweet
4. Always be in the “now”
When you focus on the present moment, the critical part of you shuts down. You can’t be thinking about what happened in the office earlier when you are living in the present moment. This could be the best way to overcome self-criticism — cultivating a daily habit of mindfulness meditation.
So, create opportunities for you to just be in the moment.
For example, meditate. Direct your full attention on the rhythm of your breathing and the calming sounds around you. Alternatively, take a nature walk and appreciate the trees, the fresh air, and all the things that thrive even if they do not have true caretakers. These “now” moments are powerful in silencing the inner critic.
5. Feed your interests
Write down the things that fascinate you, such as cheese and wine, tango, photography, painting, or the minimalism trend. After writing them down, take action by signing up for a class, or finally buying that Fumio Sasaki book.
When you feed your interests, you create a shift in your mindset and direct your thoughts and actions towards improvement instead of your different flaws. It can make you more creative (which can alter and expand the way you interpret and tackle issues) as well as make you more confident, resilient and joyful.
6. Remember loving yourself is a never-ending learning process
You cannot keep up an all-or-nothing mentality when your goal is to become a better person. So, when you falter now and then, rise and restart. This life has many tomorrows and every new day is an opportunity to get it right.
However, do keep track of your behavior through journaling. This is an excellent way to see your progress at being kinder to yourself and serving as a positive force to the people who matter to you.
7. Turn to reflecting instead of criticizing
Nobody is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. However, instead of making it a habit to remind yourself of your flaws and having an internal dialogue discussing what is wrong with you, reflect on yourself instead.
Reflection brings to light what you did wrong, but it also spurs personal correction. With reflection, you take steps to rise above your failures, and it is highly effective in proving to your inner critic that turning things around is possible, and you are greater than your mistakes.
If you are too hard on yourself with your criticism, you need to stop. This mentality of yours could be one of the reasons why there’s no joy and contentment in your life. It prevents you from seeing the real good you are capable of, as well as your ability to work on your flaws.
Your established habits and ways of thinking are powerful, and putting an end to them is not easy. But while it may not happen in a mere snap of a finger, it is also not impossible to stop self-criticism once and for all.
Here’s Ronnie Grandell, clinical psychologist, coach and non-fiction author who specializes in compassion focused therapy, talking on 3 ways to tame your self:
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Authors’ Bio: Justine Corry is a clinical psychologist and enjoys helping people get to the heart of what is not working in their lives. Along with Dr. Gemma Gladstone, she is co-director of the Good Mood Clinic in Sydney and has 10 years of experience within private practice.
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