How to overcome self-criticism

It happens, you may come across a situation like this: You have plenty of tasks on the to-do list. You have many things to be completed at work and home. You may be planning to take up some activities to improve your fitness and career growth. You want to have some fun and relax.

Trying to handle everything and stay in balance. But it looks like a never-ending task. Suddenly you remind yourself about some other incident where you faced issues. Start to dig out the old decisions and question whether the choice was right. Again remember the present tasks in hand and feel overwhelmed and difficult to understand what is wrong.

It is quite natural to be in such a situation, considering the complications of our modern-day life. But what we do at that time has implications in our life. You may start blaming yourself, or the situation and the people around you; self-criticism or self-victimization. Both are quite extreme situations – some of us may fall in-between these ends. However, we could identify our inclination and understand where we belong. This blog has some tips for the people who are more inclined towards self-criticism and suffer from it.

While reading about this topic, I came across different quotes. Some reject such thoughts and suggest we get rid of that habit, while others advocate it.

Self-criticism, like self-administered brain surgery, is perhaps not a good idea. Can the ‘self’ see the ‘self’ with any objectivity?

Joyce Carol Oates

It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of high maturity, to rise to the level of self-criticism.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are different schools of thought on this topic. However, moderation is the key. A bit of criticism as part of introspection is okay. But when it starts hurting you and makes you feel bad about yourself, then it is high time to stop and take care of yourself.

As Louise Hay says, You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

Here are some steps to accept the situation and protect ourselves from overthinking self-critic.

  • Stop all criticism – Criticism will not help your situation. Accept yourself, observe, take action as one at a time, and enjoy the present. It could improve your thoughts and guide you to move ahead.
  • Forgive yourself – Let the past go. You did the best you could at the time with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that you had.
  • Don’t scare yourself – Stop worrying yourself with what-if kind of thoughts. Switch that thought to a pleasant one.
  • Be gentle and kind – Be gentle with yourself. Have the patience to learn new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you love.
  • Remind yourself – Not to fall for self-hatred. Do not blame yourself for not-so-good thoughts. Gently change your thoughts.
  • Praise – Criticism breaks us down. Praise and tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.
  • Support – Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and family members and allow them to help you. It requires the courage to ask for help, do it.

—Anitha KC

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