“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ― Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life
Have you ever wished that you weren’t so hard on yourself? Or are you someone who believes that you aren’t hard enough on yourself? Do you feel little of what you do meets your “standards”, or that being harder on yourself will help you achieve more and move faster?
In this article I will discuss four common causes of self-criticism. I will also cover why becoming less critical of yourself is a good thing, and ways in which you can do so. I hope that by the time you finish this article you will realize that being hard on yourself is not a prerequisite for accomplishing your goals. I want to empower you and help you leave the toxic habit of self-criticism behind. Now, for the four main causes of self-criticism:
1) You believe that self-criticism is helping you
Many of us believe that self-criticism is necessary if we want to accomplish things and move forward in our lives. Ironically, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of us have a deep-seated fear that, if we don’t push ourselves hard enough, we will become lazy or complacent. Or, worse yet, we will in turn fail to reach our goals in life. There is an inner voice that tells us that we aren’t good enough, that we shouldn’t have done this or that, or that we should be trying harder. However, it’s important to question that inner voice. Are the beliefs it espouses true? And is criticizing, pushing, and berating yourself genuinely helping you? Does it make you feel better, or does it make you feel worse?
2) You are lacking in self-compassion
What if becoming more self-compassionate happened to be more effective than criticizing yourself? Well, this concept isn’t just conjecture or feel-good advice. It’s backed up by science. In fact, studies have shown that people who are self-compassionate tend to perform better and persevere longer than those who aren’t. This makes sense if you think about it. After all, can you imagine how much more inner peace and emotional stability you would experience if you stopped beating yourself up?
When it comes to criticizing yourself, I know how it is. I’ve been there. I used to be very hard on myself. Once I tried self-compassion, however, I realized that I was wasting much less time beating myself up. This freed me to move quickly past failures instead of wasting time and energy dwelling upon them. I was better able to cope with challenges. Practicing self-compassion provided multiple benefits. This is my question to you: are you being compassionate enough with yourself?
3) Your life is full of “shoulds”
If you are hard on yourself, you are likely to cling to a certain image of yourself. This image includes how you “should” act, what you “should” say, how you “should” look, how things “should” be, and so on. Then, when you fail to adhere to these “shoulds”, you become depressed, use it as an excuse to play the victim, and give up instead of moving on. Why not accept that things are as they are and recognize that, even if you aren’t moving as fast as you’d like, it’s not a big deal? You’ll get where you want to go if you stay focused. Fretting over the speed of your progress is more likely to cause failure than the speed of progress itself. So, how many “shoulds” do you have in your life?
4) You habitually judge others
The harshness with which you judge yourself is probably equal to the harshness with which you judge others. It’s possible to judge others on a regular basis on a subconscious level. You might think, “She’s mean”, “He’s always complaining,”, or even, “Why is she wearing such ridiculous clothes?” Once you realize how much you judge others, you’ll have the ability to notice and diminish the habit, thereby becoming less critical of yourself and others. That said, don’t try repressing this urge to judge, as that will turn into yet another “should”. Just observe the habit without identifying with it. Are you aware of the frequency with which you judge others, or do you need to take a closer look at it?
I would like to leave you with a challenge: for seven full days, trade self-criticism for self-compassion. Then, share your experience with me by leaving a message below. Did you accomplish less? Did you become lazy? Or were you more productive and energetic? I would love to know! So, are you up to the challenge?
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Thibaut Meurisse is the founder of whatispersonaldevelopment.org. Obsessed with self-improvement, he dedicates his life to finding the best possible ways to transform his life and the lives of others. Check out his free E-book “The 5 Commandments of Personal Development” or order his new book Goal Setting: The Ultimate Guide To Achieving Goals That Truly Excite You on Amazon!