What is Self-criticism and How to Overcome it
This weekend I spend some time with my friends and they are honestly some of the most loving and beautiful women you’ll ever meet. However, I noticed that we were constantly looking in the mirror and judging ourselves for every flaw, as we were getting ready to head out for coffee one morning…
I suddenly became aware of the faultfinding my friends and I have been tolerating in our minds and how “normal” it was. We would never say such harsh things to each other yet we were saying it to ourselves.
Even though we try to build each other up with compliments and encouraging words, things won’t change unless we become aware and silence the judgemental voice inside our mind.
Toxic self-criticism is not an unfamiliar habit, especially for women. Have you realized how women tend to criticize themselves more than men?
Well, I decided to do some research and learn from the experts on how we can unlearn these habits. So let’s get straight to it.
What is Self-Criticism?
Self-criticism is negative thoughts towards your appearance, behavior, or characteristics. It’s judging yourself for all your flaws and seeing everything that you aren’t or don’t have, instead of what you are and do have.
Having this negative mindset does not only break down your self-confidence but it creates no space for growth and improvement.
Self-criticism looks something like this;
- You blame yourself for every negative thing that happens
- Constantly comparing yourself to others
- Never being satisfied and always needing someone’s approval
- Never asking for help
- You don’t forgive yourself and others easily
Do any of these sound familiar?
Now that I think about it, I’ve said some pretty bad things to myself in the past, things that are so far from the truth and I definitely deserve better, and so do you! We’re all trying our best and we’re doing a damn good job at it, if you ask me.
We need to start talking to ourselves with respect and love because as the saying goes; you can’t pour from an empty cup.
So here are 6 steps to overcome your inner critic, according to experts.
6 Steps to Overcome your Inner Critic
1. Become aware of your thoughts
To tackle any challenge you have to first become aware of the problem.
At the start, you won’t always be aware and you will probably only realize you criticized yourself, later during the day. This is fine, it’s still progress.
At least you know that you did it, but whenever you catch yourself in the act, try stop, acknowledge it, and be proud of yourself for being so aware and mindful at the moment. Celebrating small victories such as being aware of your self-criticism reinforces the behavior.
Soon you will find yourself becoming more and more aware of these negative thoughts.
2. Challenge the thoughts
Challenge your thoughts by talking back. Whenever you’re aware of your thoughts, realize that it’s only a story you’re telling yourself and not necessarily true.
For example; “I can never do anything right” talking back; “Yes, I sometimes struggle with certain things but it helps me grow as a human being and there’s a lot that I am good at like X, Y & Z”
3. Define and Examine
Know that these are only thoughts and thoughts aren’t facts. Whenever you have negative thoughts towards yourself, pause, and examine them.
- Why do you think you feel this way about yourself?
- Is it true?
Examine the evidence that may indicate it’s true and the evidence that may indicate it’s false. By examining both sides you think more rational and less emotional.
4. What if the thoughts were true?
“I probably won’t get that job”
How bad would it be if you didn’t get the job? I’m not saying you should not try to change your thoughts because you need to start believing in yourself, but often the worst-case scenario isn’t as bad as we fear.
Yes, rejection is never pleasant but it’s also not the end of the world. Knowing that you can handle the worst-case scenario will give you more confidence.
5. Give yourself the advice you would give a friend
As I mentioned at the start, we easily say negative things about ourselves but we would never say such things to our friends.
We often give our friends the advice we actually need… or is it only me? When my friends criticize themselves I immediately tell them that it’s not true and how beautiful and capable they are, but when it comes to my own well-being, I often believe every word my inner critic says about me.
So next time you feel your inner critic breaking down your self-esteem, think about what you would tell a friend if they were saying those things about themselves.
6. Love yourself
I know, I know, it sounds like such a cliche but trust me, it’s probably the most important one. Let me explain…
A few days ago I listen to one of Darin Olien’s podcasts and in the end, he said something that changes the way I look at some of the things I do, say, and think about. He said that before you do, say or think about something, pause and ask yourself; “if I truly loved myself, would I do/ think/ say X?
It’s really simple but I’ve been trying this for the last couple of days and I have not only made better decisions but also have a lot more love and respect for myself.
We should strive to find a balance between self-improvement and self-acceptance. It may be difficult some days but as long as you try your best to be aware of your thoughts, know that your thoughts aren’t facts, and love yourself, you’re on the right track, my friend!
“You are not your thoughts. You are the presence that notices the thoughts.”
Nikki Lamprecht is a Dietetics student from South Africa and has a passion for nutrition, mindfulness, and sustainability. She recently started a holistic lifestyle blog, Santosha Sisters, with her sister. In her free time, she enjoys reading, yoga, and spending time outdoors.