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It can be quite healthy and motivating to set aside time to assess your situation, efforts, thoughts, and more. We analyze our choices and match them up with the outcomes we’ve experienced. Introspection is a necessary part of your life. Unfortunately, it can be a slippery slope from productive self-examination and dysfunctional rumination. Self-criticism is both common and insidious. 

Our inner voice has a tendency to judge, doubt, shame, and mock. Left unchecked, such self-criticism can become the biggest obstacle to living the life we desire. The encouraging voices of loved ones cannot match up to the power of negative self-talk. Therefore, it is necessary to take active steps to combat self-criticism. 


Self-Criticism as an Obstacle

There should be a huge difference — a veritable chasm — between self-examination and self-punishment. When you allow that mean internal monologue to dominate your inner life, it leads to obstacles that hamper your ability to thrive in a variety of ways. For example:

  • It can feel daunting to get started on projects when self-doubt fills your mind.
  • Even when you do begin, you may struggle with focusing and following through. 
  • People feeling overwhelmed by self-criticism are less likely to ask for the help they need and deserve.
  • When all is said and done, the results are viewed through a critical lens.


Why Does This Happen?

There are countless potential variables from person to person. However, a common factor is that we have a brain that wants to be correct. When we encounter an inevitable setback or rough patch, we don’t feel great about ourselves. Our self-image is skewed. That said, our brain’s desire to be right can lead it to seek out “proof” that we see ourselves accurately. To break this cycle, we must take action.


5 Ways to Combat Self-Criticism


1. Listen Carefully

Pay close attention to your most common thoughts. You may be astonished to discover how frequently you engage in self-criticism. Keep a journal to discern the patterns that can shape your life. Use these notes as a reminder that a big change is required ASAP.


2. Become a Fact-Checker

Another use of the journal mentioned in #1 above is as evidence. Anxiety can be an effective liar. So, it’s up to you to fact-check your negative thoughts in order to stop believing them. Utilize that same journal to write down the counter-evidence that proves you’re not who your inner voice claims you are. Even when you do recognize past errors, remind yourself that the past does not decide the future. 


3. Talk Back to Your Inner Critic

When the seemingly inevitable insults arrive, stay mindful. Accept that they are all about past regrets and future fears. Stay in the present and literally talk back — out loud. Give that inner voice a piece of your mind! 


4. Be Your Own BFF

Talk to yourself as you’d talk to your best friend. Be compassionate, patient, and understanding. If your BFF is struggling, you won’t be mean and judgmental. Why not extend that same empathy to yourself? 


5. Choose Self-Improvement

Each of us has improvements we can make. Therefore, when things don’t go your way, see it as a chance to improve and grow. You can choose something different.


How Does Someone Make Self-Positive Talk Normal?

It’s not a change that happens overnight. That’s why so many folks opt to connect with a skilled professional. In a therapy setting, you have the opportunity to identify the patterns that brought you to a place of self-criticism. Working together with your therapist, you can take crucial steps to find your positive inner voice and create the balance you crave. Let’s connect and talk about all the possibilities.