Self criticism is like lying to ourselves every day. We engage in negative self talk and thought patterns that inhibit our personal growth and limit our ability to live a full and grounded life.
Self-criticism is also a factor in eating disorders and self-mutilation and loneliness.
For many of us self-criticism is just the way we talk to ourselves. Our inner dialogue, that can be silent or audible and regularly sounds like this: I am a failure, No one can love me, I can’t do anything right. I look horrible, What’s wrong with me? I’m such an idiot, I am always screwing up!
Did you know that we so often assume our thoughts are 100 percent true, that these thoughts are accurate reflection of real life? The truth is that they’re not.
Our thoughts aren’t necessarily realistic or even meaningful.
And we don’t have to believe them or act on them.
Remember that what we think about comes about....so if we are always telling ourselves that we are a failure, that no one will love me, I look horrible, I am an idiot...you got it – that is exactly what is going to become real.
Even if we are thinking it, for thoughts are energy and matter follows energy, our thoughts will become fact, however spoken words are far more powerful, so they will become fact far quicker!
We think (very wrongly I might add) that such self-critical statements somehow safeguard against laziness, mistakes and complacency; that they’ll somehow keep us in line and ensure we achieve our goals, however the opposite actually happens.
The feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, anger, frustration, embarrassment, disappointment and hopelessness that self criticism brings up for us destroys our resolve, drains our energy and confidence and paralyzes progress
Now there is constructive feedback and unconstructive self-criticism (feedback)
Unconstructive self-criticism, is destructive, inconsiderate, judges the “you” (not your work or behavior) and is totally unbalanced – it reeks of failure and disconnects us from the actual reality which can lead to confusion, guilt, blame and shame.
Constructive feedback, gives us specific insight into what we could have done; it’s an honest, unbiased, considerate and respectful enquiry of our behaviour and work. This helps us to learn another way of doing or being.
To have this level of honesty can be seen as “easier said than done”, however if we can confront our inner demons we can slowly retrain ourselves to think differently and limit and delete those feelings of hopelessness and despair that plague those who self criticise.
There are no “wrong” or “bad” choices – there are just results or consequences for our choices and if something turns out the way we did not want it to, then we have another choice of taking another action.
So many people believe that being hard on themselves is the only thing that will make them better people, however there is NOTHING in research to back this belief. Self-criticism has been shown to increase procrastination, worry, anxiety and severely restrict us from attaining our goals. If you already feel worthless and incompetent, you may feel like there is no point in even trying to do better next time, or at the worst not even have a next time.
From my personal experience with self criticism – and I have had lots of practice unfortunately – it is sinister and destructive, and has you in a web of entrapment – often when you know that you do not want to be there. The mind is a tool that for some of us we require teaching how to use it well and appropriately, for things of use, uplifting, progress, potential and prosperity.
Self criticism is like a vortex that drags or sucks you down, all you see is how stuck you think you are, problems and lack – what you have not got or who you are not. Read More
So how about stepping out – one step at a time, from this viscous cycle of self criticism. As I mentioned earlier what we focus on is what manifests, and it sure takes effort to flick the switch from the self critical mode to self appreciation.
I can say with full assurance it sure is worth it, every bit of concentration, focus and effort to find that place where you can see even a glimmer of light, which if you keep focused on, will become a glow and eventually the darkness and destruction will fade either right out of the picture, or at least into the very far corner of your life.
Yes, I can hear you asking “will it stay out or in that far away corner?”
Chances are not entirely!
However if you have managed to banish self criticism, even for a short time, then you CAN do it again. Yes you can!
Chances are that it will not hit you for the six it did last time, and you will come out of that place sooner and more easily.
Erena Oliver Empowerment Specialist
I am a Wellness Consultant helping women to reclaim their self respect, self acceptance and confidence. And best of all helping them to release their fears of ever feeling powerless again.