Many people are overly critical of themselves. The voice of self-criticism can be so loud, that we do a better job of bullying ourselves than any other person could. People who are highly self-critical are almost never satisfied with themselves. They set impossibly high standards for us, making achieving a goal difficult if not impossible. When we don’t believe that we can accomplish a goal, we feel disempowered, our confidence drops. This makes it difficult to see a path forward.
Self-criticism makes us selective in fixating on disappointments and overlooking successes. The mind vigilantly looks for proof of failure, and once it sees proof it immediately tells you “Ha, I told you so! See, you are indeed a failure”. This creates a vicious cycle where every misstep reinforces perception of oneself as a failure. Over time, our self-image can get so bad that we lose any hope and register nothing but that failure. We get so critical that we forget about our positive sides. Self-criticism impairs your resilience, self-confidence, and motivation.
What can help with self-criticism? As cheesy as it sounds, focusing on kindness towards oneself, connecting with others, and being more forgiving of mistakes will allow you not to catastrophize your missteps as an irrevocable failure.
A solution to self-criticism is to become a better champion of ourselves. When we focus on what is wrong with us, it is hard to find a path forward. It is helpful to examine some beliefs about yourself from a kinder and more supportive perspective. Recalling your values and what you stand for allows you to remember that you are not just one thing, that there is much more to you than imperfections. This allows you to relate to less harshly, balancing imperfection with strong suits. This makes us more forgiving of ourselves, and therefore stronger, more resilient, and optimistic. Those who forgive themselves for missteps are not afraid to try again even when setbacks happen, resulting in growth.
SELF-COMPASSION / TRY THIS
- Think of a situation when your friend was struggling and felt very badly. Describe in detail: How did you respond to your friend in a supportive way, what did you say to them?
- Now think of yourself when you feel bad or are struggling. What do you typically tell yourself in this situation? Are you being supportive in the same way you were supportive of yourself?
By Inna Yulman
Certified Coach, ACC