Updated: Mar 16, 2021
I am so stupid
I am not good enough
Why do I always get things wrong?
I am not a good person
I am not lucky enough
I look so fat
I am so careless
I am a horrible human being
I am never going to figure this out, I am an idiot.
I used to sound a lot like this. And I know, I’m not alone. It seems like most of us struggle with an extreme amount of criticizing ourselves.
If you think poorly about yourself and are criticizing yourself or have harsh critic. You tend to exaggerate your faults and ignore your strengths and accomplishments.
Being harsh at yourself chips away at your self-esteem and leads to hopelessness and shame. Criticism in fact reinforces negative beliefs about us and turns the anxiety driven fight or flight response from our brain. Which in turn makes it harder for us to learn and change our behavior. So, if it were your boss or spouse or parent who was constantly criticizing you, I would probably ask you to keep your distance. But when the criticism is coming from inside your own head, it is a harder problem to solve. Clearly, you cannot stop listening to yourself.
How can we end self-criticism and learn self-acceptance?
Is Self-criticism is a learned behaviour? Growing up in many family’s kids are criticized a lot, and as an individual (unconsciously or consciously) you may think you deserve this criticism. When you’re told you’re stupid, idiot, you don’t know anything, you can’t make your own decisions, You are a brat, or fat or lazy repeatedly or even comparing you to others(siblings or others in the family), you start to believe it. And then, even after your parents, teachers or other critics from childhood are no longer criticizing you, you just might take that over and – you are criticizing yourself because it seems so natural, so deserved. Criticism is born from unrealistic expectations. Many times, we criticize ourselves because we have unrealistic expectations from ourselves at times and we look for evidences to prove that we have made mistakes. We know if we dig through and go looking for mistakes, we will find them, oh yes, we will. Its not because we want to its because we have put ourselves under a microscope that because we want to be perfect we will make mistake and we will start looking for sign that we show us that we are inadequate and that’s when we end up throwing out all evidence that we are adequate, we are normal, and can do better. Setting right and measurable expectations help us understand our abilities and adequacies.
End self-criticism learn self-acceptance - Self Acceptance is the toughest road to get through. When we are criticizing ourselves for so long and listening to others criticizing us and make that our reality, accepting ourselves becomes even tougher. This is when we must challenge our negative way of thinking and accept that we have been dependent on these distorted thoughts, these unrealistic mindsets, disbeliefs, expectations that do not make much sense , all these disbeliefs are engraved in us by others. How can we stop from judging ourselves as inadequate, not being enough, finding fault in ourselves, constantly plaguing our inner critic?
Who we are is all about self acceptance. When something happens, we make ourselves believe something is wrong with us, we always think we will be rejected. This is when we start exaggerating lies or even pretend to be someone, we are not just so we stop ourselves from feeling worthless. We start judging others and sometimes behave aggressively towards others. We become our own enemies.
What can be done with self criticism and the road to acceptance?
Look for positives and cultivate a more balanced view of yourself. In my practise I work with my clients on a mantra that works. It’s called Self Talk- Talk to your self just as if you will advise someone else to do or not to do something.
Journal your strengths, the things you do right, your progress, and effort. What motivated you that day, who was there for you. This exercise works best when you take a few minutes daily to write down the positives, reflect on them, and let them sink in. Sit with them.
Once we know what our sufferings/pain is its important for us to take a moment step back and stay with the moment, this is the first step in healing yourself, moving forward. “Pause”
When we have recognized that you have had the feeling of worthlessness, that you are not enough, for a long time and it is then time to ask yourself, what is going on in my body, in my heart at this moment? How long have I had this feeling in me? This is the time you are bringing awareness to your hidden pain. It is important for you to be kind to yourself at this moment.
Challenge your thoughts that criticize you. It is not important that everything we think about is right, we have the strength within us to weed out the incorrect thoughts and it’s done by questioning whether they are true. When you have a critical thought, ask yourself these questions to create more accurate thoughts.
Is this thought helpful?
Is this what I want to think about myself?
What would I say to myself if I was more accepting and self-compassionate?
Is my thought/belief based on facts or opinions?
Am I overgeneralizing or jumping to conclusions?
What evidence do I have to support it? What evidence do I have to refute it?
How do I know this thought is true?
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Be kind to yourself.