Be Aware of Your Self-Criticism
The first step is to create some awareness of your self-criticism. For instance:
- Are you always telling yourself that you’re not good enough?
- Do you pour yourself over a project until you think it’s “just right?”
- Are you happy with what you see in the mirror?
- Are you reluctant to try something because you are afraid to fail?
It’s important to realize what brings on your self-criticism and what it sounds like to you.
Working with a therapist can help to provide insight as to what triggers your inner critic and why.
Practice Mindfulness Exercises for Self-Criticism
Participating in mindfulness exercises such as meditation can help with creating self-criticism awareness. Consider practicing simple breathing exercises that allow you to relax and also focus your mind. This can allow your thoughts to come and go as they occur. You can note to yourself what feelings arise and why they happen.
Develop Inspirational Phrases for Self-Criticism
We’re not talking about those cheesy leadership and teamwork posters that you see on office walls! Instead, think of a word or phrase that has significant meaning to you. You can repeat this to yourself whenever you begin to hear your inner critic speak up. Some sources for ideas can include:
- Words of wisdom from a parent, teacher, coach, or a friend.
- A leader, athlete, or other public figure you admire.
- A quote from a spiritual text that you respect.
Wherever you find it, make the quote one that means something to you personally.
Exercise for Self-Criticism
Physical exercise can be very helpful for improving mood and contributing to overall health. It can also be a tool for you to experiment with setting goals and working to achieve them. When that inner critic begins to speak, you can stay focused on the physical task at hand. If you aren’t used to physical exercise, talk to your doctor first and consult with a trainer on what’s appropriate for you.
Have a Buddy for Self-Criticism
This doesn’t mean someone who can wallow with you in misery. Ask a trusted friend or relative to be a sounding board for when things get tough and your self-criticism overtakes you. It can be reassuring to hear from an outside voice positive things and distract yourself from what you are saying to yourself.
Keep Positive Reminders for Self-Criticism
Have some physical reminders laying around that can reassure you when you begin hearing self-criticism: For example:
- An award or trophy you have won.
- Degrees or certificates you have earned.
- Photos of yourself doing something great, like hiking a mountain.
- Photos of your family and friends; people who love and care about you.
Cut Yourself Some Slack for Self-Criticism
When you are tempted to be overly critical of yourself, recognize what you are doing and tell yourself to take it easy. Cut yourself some slack! Try to laugh it off, as once again your brain is telling you something that isn’t actually true. Make a joke out of it. Humor can be a healthy thing for the body and the soul, after all.
Having to live with an inner critic isn’t easy. However, there are ways that you can push back from the self-criticism. By taking a good look at what and why you are so hard on yourself, you can begin to take positive steps to fight back. You may be your own worst critic, but you don’t have to let that define who you are or how you live your life.