I know how I respond sometimes when someone is criticising me. I can sometimes get discouraged, as we all can, when other people criticise us. However, we have to accept that we are at times our own worst enemy and worst critic. For no apparent reason we seem to create those self sabotaging blocks that prevent us from succeeding in life. It happens every time we hear the critical voices in our head, saying “I’m a loser”, “I can’t do anything right”, “No, this will not work”, and so on. Often, these voices become even louder, creating a feeling that can annoy and upset us.
Can Self-criticism can be both healthy and unhealthy?.
If you are using as a means of gaining awareness about yourself, it can benefit you. It helps you learn from the decisions you have taken in your life, which may not have turned out as you expect them to have. It helps you to recover from failures, and unleash your true potential. When when it starts to ruin your self-esteem and peace of mind it can become a major problem. I am a great believer that Self-criticism often stems from childhood experiences and relationships with parents, relatives and peers. If you had a ‘negative’ childhood experience, it’s more likely that the kind of self-criticism you’re practising is not healthy. Rather, it makes you feel sad, hopeless, and affect your levels of self confidence.
But, fear not, the good thing is – there are several ways to shut down unhealthy self-criticism and become more in control of your life. Whenever those critical voices rage in your head, here are things you should and can do:
Practise Self-Correction, Not Self-Criticism
Self-criticism is not unusual. Highlighting out your perceived flaws without thinking of ways to correct them can only make things worse. Criticising yourself over and over again only leads to frustrations, discouragement and ultimately – failure. But, it all seems easier said than done. Instead of giving in to those critical voices, why not do something so that you can to start doing those things that are right for you! The more mindful you are of aware of your shortcomings, weaknesses and all things that prevent you from reaching your goals, then, you can start thinking of ways to overcome them.
Consider those Critical Voices as Protectors
Many people consider their critical voices in many forms, it may be as voices heard from ‘God’, a parent, a best friend, their alter ego and so on, but these influences tend to coming from negative perspective. Almost as if they are being ‘told off’ or ‘chastised’. If you think of them in the same way, these critical voices of yours will become too powerful and controlling. Instead, you may want to see them as protectors or guides, simply trying to warn you about a potential threat. When you visualise them this way, you become more in control, a fact that makes self-criticism a healthy trait. Remember, most of these thoughts come from your subconscious mind, and your subconscious is there to protect you and keep you away from harm.
Treat Yourself Like You Would Treat a Good Friend
None of us want to intentionally hurt the feelings of a good friend. If you want to say something negative about him or her, you may want to say it gently, in a way that you won’t offend the person. Do the same with yourself. If there are things about your behaviour, attitude or beliefs that you don’t think are right, say it softly to your inner self. You have to be nice, show a level of empathy and comforting to the person within you. If he or she is happy, so you are.
Anyone Makes Mistakes
Mistakes are what make us human. Even the most intelligent people in the world makes mistakes. If you dwell into your flaws and imperfection, you only make yourself more vulnerable to more mistakes and failures. So you might fail your Driving Test. Now what? Instead of killing yourself with sharp criticisms like “I’m so stupid”, “Nothing I do works out”, etc, you have to accept the fact that failures are part of life. What is important is that you learn from them. Look at your mistakes as opportunities to find alternative solutions which will prevent from the same mistake being made.
Cling to Your Goals, Not on Those Critical Voices
You need to focus on one thing – your goals. Don’t be discouraged by the stumbling blocks that make your journey challenging. Facing your challenges are what makes you stronger. You can’t shut down those critical voices in all at once. There will be times you will still hear those harsh words being spoken. But you’ve got to tell yourself – “Okay, I understand that it is your job to criticise me, but it will not stop me from getting on with my life.” Your inner voice must be louder than those unwarranted voices. They should not affect who you are, not even tell you what to do.
Consider Your Positive Side
Negative thinking is hardwired in our brain. We need it as a survival mechanism. But negative thinking alone could do more harm than good. You also want to consider the positives. Whenever those critical voices are telling you what you can’t do, think about what you can do, and say it loudly. Optimism is the driving force that will keep you moving forward, regardless of all the negativities that block your way.
Recognise Your Triggers
Stress and other emotional challenges can often fuel those critical voices. Be aware of what triggers them so you can always find a way to prevent them from tormenting your mind. For some people, negative self-criticism springs from loneliness, for some, it comes from boredom, rejection, or committing a mistake.
Write Yourself a Letter
Looking at the problem from a different angle, as if you are not part of it, provides a better way to assess things and come up with the best solution. One way to dismantle the discouragement that your critical voices bring is to write them a letter. Tell them how deeply hurt you are. Tell them what you feel whenever they say those harsh phrases over and over again. Then, write a response letter from the perspective of your critical self. Explain your concerns and worries that trigger you to become highly critical. Apologise and make a promise to be gentler and less controlling.
To sum it all up – self criticism is not entirely a bad thing. In fact, it is a survival mechanism that is hardwired into our brain. It aims to protect us from further danger. But too much of a good thing can be destructive. Unhealthy self-criticism may hinder you from reaching your goals and from being happy. It makes you sad, frustrated and more at risk to failure. But the good news is there are plenty of ways to shut down those critical voices. Among the most effective ways are: converting self-criticism to self-correction, visualising it as your protector, treating yourself nicely, considering the positives, focusing on your goals, recognising your triggers, and looking at the situation from a different angle. Once you incorporate these strategies in your daily life, you will find those big voices getting smaller and smaller, until you can’t hear a thing.
Why not contact me to see how I can help you become less critical about yourself.