Everyone faces criticism at times. Obviously, this is not a fun experience. Especially if the person criticizing you is someone you love. And, for many people, they are actually the harshest critic they’ll ever face. Their internal monologue can be relentlessly self-critical. Thankfully, there are ways to stop being your own worst critic.
Why You Are Self-Critical
It’s pretty confusing. Why would someone be so hard on themselves? Some common reasons for this are:
- Low self-esteem
- Your motivation to do better, taken to the extreme
- Perfectionism (which is really a fear of failure)
- Internalized ableism, racism, ageism, homophobia, etc.
- Childhood experiences that led you to believe you are unworthy
Self-Compassion vs. Self-Criticism
Think about when you see news about a good deed or “random act of kindness.” How fast to do you “like” or share such a post? You know that compassion is admirable. It’s also a very human quality. Yet, so few of us aim compassion inward at ourselves.
Self-compassion helps teach you that you are worthy and imperfect. Imperfection doesn’t mean you don’t deserve kindness, love, or compassion. You are flawed, just like everyone else. Therefore, some missteps are inevitable and normal. You are worthy of acceptance and forgiveness. You deserve to be treated well by others… and by yourself.
10 Ways to Stop Being Your Worst Critic
1. Be Your Own BFF
If your best friend is having a tough time, imagine how you would speak to them. You probably aren’t mean towards them. Instead, you probably lend them a non-judgmental ear. Perhaps you give them encouragement. Breaking news: You can aim that same kindness and patience at yourself!
By putting pen to paper, you can begin looking at your experiences through a different lens. A more self-compassionate lens.
3. Identify What We Can and Cannot Control
So much is out of our control. Yet, we criticize ourselves for not having more control and doing better. Try to identify what you are and aren’t responsible for. Show compassion for the mistakes you made in areas you could control.
Focused on the past, we may feel guilt or shame. Thinking about the future can provoke anxiety. In the present moment lives a deeper acceptance of ourselves. Instead of passing judgment on our experiences and reactions, be curious and non-judgmental.
5. Practice Breathing Exercises
With breathing exercises, our mind calms. Then we’re able to more clearly see ourselves and the situation. And, typically, that way is more self-compassionate and less self-critical.
6. Distinguish Self-Compassion from Complacency
Slowing down to care for yourself is not the same as being lazy. On the contrary, self-compassion breaks can help improve your performance. You probably know that when you’re depressed or panicked, you don’t do well.
Self-compassion also provides the mindset needed to accurately look at your performance and behavior. Otherwise, people are too afraid of going down a shame-spiral.
7. Create a Self-Compassion Mantra
The most effective mantras incorporate all three aspects of self-compassion: self-kindness, belief in a common humanity, and mindfulness. For example, “I’m having a really hard time right now. Everyone feels this way sometimes. I can tolerate this feeling. May I give myself the compassion I need.”
8. Express Gratitude
Often, we wish for what we’re missing or lacking. There is power in appreciating what we do have. Start a gratitude practice. It can be as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for each night. By focusing on our blessings, we employ a gentler inner voice. That helps us move the focus away from our shortcomings. Instead, we focus outward to the world, with all its beauty.
9. Challenge the Negativity
Too often, we accept our thoughts as facts. Don’t accept the negativity swirling around in your head as truth. Respond with more neutral or positive statements. You can think of this as “debating” your inner critic. Countering critical self-talk with positive self-affirmations can derail a negative mindset and slow down shame-spirals.
10. Schedule in Regular Self-Compassion Breaks
Lastly, you can use all these tips on a regular basis. Incorporate self-compassion into your daily self-care routine. Regularly flex your self-compassion muscles. They’ll strengthen and become almost second-nature to you.
Look Outward for Assistance
Regularly working with a therapist is a proven path toward healing. You can discover the roots of your self-critical nature and practice self-compassion in a safe, non-judgmental space. Contact me for a free 20 minute consultation to see how I can help.
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