You’ve probably heard the saying “you are your own worst enemy”, and the reason it’s stood the test of time is that it’s often true.
How often do you criticize yourself? How many times a day do you put yourself down? Do you treat yourself worse than you would treat a close friend or family member? Self-criticism and negative self-talk are huge issues. They can have an impact on your self-esteem and can even lead to excess stress and depression.
There are plenty of underlying factors that can contribute to self-criticism. You may have been bullied as a child or came from a childhood where you were criticized.
But continuing that pattern will only make your life harder.
So, what can you do to combat self-criticism? Fire back with self-compassion.
Recognize Your Self-Criticism
There are different steps to being more compassionate with yourself. First, you need to recognize and understand your “self-hatred”. Trying to deny or ignore it might seem like a good idea, but you’re just pushing it down to let it fester and get worse.
If you choose to acknowledge it, you’ll better yourself in two ways. First, you can get a better understanding of where it’s coming from. Knowing the “root cause” of something always makes it easier to deal with, in the long run.
Second, acknowledging it will make it harder to accept each day. You’ll see how it’s truly affecting you, which can be the motivating factor in being more compassionate with yourself.
Recognizing your self-criticism will also serve as a starting point for forgiveness. It will allow you to stop punishing yourself for perceived mistakes, which is the first step toward self-healing.
Establish a Growth Mindset
When you’re struggling with a fixed mindset, you’ll never change. That’s exactly what the self-criticizing side of you wants.
Instead, commit to a growth mindset. Embrace challenges as they come your way. Search for the meaning in everything you do, especially when it’s difficult. View your successes as forms of inspiration and your failures as learning opportunities.
Practice More Gratitude
Self-criticism can lead to a negative attitude overall. You might start to see the world in a negative way, as well as your own life. One way to combat that is by practicing daily gratitude.
Think about the things in your life that you’re most grateful for. Try keeping a small journal or notebook with you wherever you go and jot down things you’re thankful for as they come to mind. You’ll quickly find that throughout each day, there’s more to be grateful for than you might think!
When you write those things down, you can look back on them. That’s especially helpful during difficult moments or when self-criticism is threatening to take over your thoughts.
Mindfulness is used to help with a variety of different mental health struggles. It can ease anxiety, reduce stress, and fight back against self-criticism.
When you practice mindfulness, you’re making a conscious choice to be in the present. Thoughts will continue to come, but you won’t hold on to them. You don’t think about the past or the future. You don’t think about how you criticized yourself this morning or the negative self-talk you were dealing with last night.
Instead, you’ll focus on your breathing and how your body feels in that moment. Even just a few minutes of mindfulness can calm your racing thoughts and help you see things more clearly.
Self-compassion might not be “automatic” for everyone. It can take effort to be as kind to yourself as you are to others. But, keep these tips in mind to serve as the anecdote for self-criticism. When you put them into practice, you can change your negative thought patterns about yourself and start living a more fulfilling, confident life. If you are struggling with self-compassion, feel free to contact me.
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