Self criticism is how we evaluate ourself. When we are self criticizing we generally are pointing out our own, perceived, flaws. These flaws can be about our appearance, attitude, abilities, talents, education and knowledge, inner thoughts and emotions, etc. When we are self critical we tend to cause continual negative thoughts about ourselves.
Examples of Self Criticism.
I have had social anxiety for just about as long as I can remember. One aspect of my social anxiety is I can be very critical of social interactions I had after the fact. I can be charming, social, talkative during the situation and often times nobody else saw any flaw. I however will argue with myself “why did I say that?” “that was stupid” “I should have said this” “they thought I was an idiot.” This is all self criticism.
Self criticism has many different negative effects on our mental health, relationships, and quality of life.
When we have many self critical thoughts we end with guilt and shame. Anything that goes wrong is our own fault. This can lead to depression and suicidal ideation.
It can be hard to hold on to relationships when we feel we are unworthy. Self critical thoughts can often make us feel unworthy of love and friendship. Without any motivation to build relationships we can be isolated furthering our self critical thoughts and feelings, often times leading to depression.
How do we change self criticism into self compassion?
Self compassion is the way in which we treat ourselves with kindness. Self compassion is believed to be a necessary ingredient in healthy relationships, good quality of life, and personal growth.
How can we build self compassion?
A simple act of forgiving oneself is a step towards positivity. If we hear a thought like “I cannot believe I failed my test, I’m so stupid” examine the evidence. Is that thought rational. What caused you to fail the test? Did you not study? Is it just a hard subject for you? How can you improve next time? Study longer? Get a tutor? Tell yourself “I am not stupid. I can do this. I’m going to work harder.”
Every mistake we make is not meant to hold us down. Everyone makes mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Use any mistakes as a lesson. Learn your lesson, move on and forgive yourself.
I love the Fall because I feel as Thanksgiving and Christmas get closer people tend to remember to be grateful. Truly, however, we should be expressing gratitude everyday. Not only will expressing our gratitude remind us of all the good in our lives it will also help the loved ones around us. We should appreciate every thing and person that are positives in our lives. This should be year round.
By expressing gratitude and remembering what blessings we have we tend to be more compassionate. We remember we are worthy of love, the roof over our head, the care we receive from others. When we remember we are worthy we tend to shut down critical thoughts.
Find a Fair Level of Generosity
Helping others can be a huge boost in your own self worth. However, at times we can be too generous. When we are too generous we can feel used, it can be hard to want to help others when we feel we are not appreciated. Find a fair level of generosity. Somewhere in the middle ground where you feel like you’re helping and boosts your self worth, yet you do not feel like you’re giving too much of yourself.
Pay attention to your thoughts. When you are critical of yourself purposefully stop every negative thought in its tracks.
I found this wonderful video I wanted to share about self esteem and self compassion. It encompasses a lot of what we need to learn to be compassionate to ourselves, boost our self esteem, and change our inner voice to a positive one.
31 Days to a Positive Inner Voice
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Practicing forgiveness…love that…I’m too hard on myself. I’ve really got to learn to let things go!
Self-criticism is definitely something I struggle with, I’m always picking apart my words and actions.
I really love this! When we’re too hard on ourselves, it def can lead to some dark places.
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