The phrase “We are our own worst critic,” applies to many people. I certainly know what it was like to constantly have my annoying inner critic constantly beat myself up repeatedly and make me feel as though nothing I did was good enough. Being too hard on yourself crosses a fine line between having high standards, and beating yourself up.
Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to become the best version of yourself, procrastinating and constantly being down on yourself for failures is counterproductive and bad for mental health, self-esteem, and self-image.
So here are some action steps to stop self-criticism that have helped me take control over that pesky inner voice that likes to run the show.
# Identify Your Strengths
Make a list of what you are good – and before your inner critic starts telling you there is nothing you are good at, get in first and start making that list. Everyone has things they are good at – even you! Focus on making those things better and find ways to use those skills or attributes that you have. Exploit what you are good at for the positive. Use these things to improve your career, life, and overall self.
Accept Positive Feedback
Accepting positive feedback from others was really difficult for me. I would instantly dismiss it – which I now realise was quite insulting to the person giving me the compliment. I learnt a valuable lesson from a senior matron years ago when she heard me once again throwing a compliment out before I had even heard all of it. She said ” Its just as gracious to receive as it is to give” – something I have never forgotten. Don’t automatically deny nice things that people say. Be objective while accepting a compliment or piece of positive feedback.
"It's just as gracious to receive as it is to give"
Face Your Inner Critic
Identify where your negative beliefs and cognitive distortions come from. Often they stem from childhood experiences or authorities in our lives. We all have various life experiences and personal reasons that lead us to use negative thinking. Often this happens in a habitual way. Breaking these habits and thought patterns can drastically change the way we think and feel as well as the flow of our daily lives. The simple act of gaining awareness of your inner critic is the first step to managing it.
What Is Mindfulness?
Being mindful means that we are aware and, focused on what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by technology, priorities, people, the past, or the future. We are in the moment right now.
Staying in the moment takes practice. Being mindful in the moment you are living in right now can help you feel less stressed out and be a huge mental health gain. Your mental health can improve from using mindfulness activities, taking part in self-care practices, as well as caring for your overall physical health.
Some Benefits Of Being Mindful
- When you are able to turn off “autopilot”, you will experience a richer life
- Less stress and anxiety
- Improved focus and attention
- Increased self-awareness
- Increased mental health
Practice breathing exercises, or mindful journaling daily to slow your pace, and draw your focus inward to the present moment. Learning to practice mindfulness helps you learn to think and speak to yourself in a more thoughtful and loving manner. This is a key way to stop self-criticism.
Send Out Good Energy
Be nice to people. Put out kindness and be decent to other human beings. This can come back to you at some time in life. Keeping your own energy on the positive side is good for you, and good for others.
Choose Specific Goals To Improve On
Perfection doesn’t exist — but progress does. One way to reduce self-criticism is to make improvements in life that are truly important to you. This can be a huge stress reducer, and help you bring a sense of progress and optimism to your life. Make a plan and stick to it to reach your goals. Focus on what is important and re assess often. It is better to be productive than self-critical.
Appreciate Your Successes
When setting goals, and making change, don’t forget the significance of acknowledging progress. Celebrating progress on your journey is an important step in staying motivated, and also enjoying the results from all of your hard work. When reaching a goal instead of immediately pushing on to the next thing on your to-do list take a moment and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.
Knock Out Your Inner Critic
Doing some interior work as to why you are self-critical can help you take steps in the right direction. This kind of work and progress takes time. You may want to talk to a trusted mentor or friend, or even a therapist. Whether you go it alone or as a team effort it is worth the reflection and introspection to make these changes.
Improve your health and wellbeing by silencing self-criticism. Start working on these changes today and you will be amazed at what life is like without self-criticism.