Are you hard on yourself? Many of us are. Some of us only criticize ourselves when we mess up or feel inadequate. Some of us do it on a weekly or even daily occurrence. Self-criticism can be a motivator but only to a certain point. There’s a fine line between using self-criticism to push yourself to conquer more and allowing it to cause you to shut down and not take action. When you keep putting yourself down, it actually makes you start doubting yourself over time. That self-doubt can spiral into constant negative self-talk.
Some days you’re tired from nights of not sleeping well, and others you’re on top of the world. All of us experience difficult days. As 50 Cent once said, “Joy wouldn’t feel so good if it weren’t from pain.” Sorry to break it to you but every day won’t go perfectly. The one thing we can always control is how we choose to react to life’s circumstances. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or beating ourselves up with self-criticism.
Self-compassion is by no means complacency. It’s recognizing your shortcomings and accepting them as part of being human. Think about it, has beating yourself up about something ever helped you? So then why do it?! There’s really no point.
Here are 4 acts of self-compassion to overcome your inner critic:
1. Be patient with yourself
Learn to show patience regarding your own perceived personality flaws and be tolerant of your shortcomings. None of us perform at 100% all day every day so stop expecting yourself to. As long as you’re performing well more times than not, then you’re doing great. Aim for 90% efficiency but give yourself a 10% grace to be human.
2. Acknowledge your feelings
We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. Taking note of your pain and recognizing those feelings as real and worthy of acknowledgment is the first step. There is no problem that is too big or too small to have emotions towards it. Don’t allow anyone to invalidate your feelings ever. Everyone may not understand or agree with your feelings but that’s not a reason to bury them.
After you have validated your feelings then you can comfort yourself in a healthy way. I like to remind myself that nothing is permanent. I’ve been through tough situations and prevailed. Any time I feel discouraged I remember that there are far less qualified people doing things I want to do, simply because they believe in themselves and decided to take action! That thought consistently jump starts my motivation. It reminds me…how dare I limit myself, I am more than enough! Find your statement and write it down. Refer to it in moments of self-criticism.
3. Set boundaries for yourself
We all have standards. We can not continuously give to others and not provide for ourselves, otherwise, we’ll burnout. My personal development journey helped me realize that I needed to start living my truth and setting better boundaries. I started to notice that other people’s emergencies were not my personal urgencies. I realized that I am always in control of how my time is spent. Any pressure I feel was created in my own head and I have the power to overcome it. I want to help you realize that as well.
On the other side of that realization is happiness and inner peace. Start saying no to things that don’t interest you. Start putting your well-being first, trusting your intuition, and putting your phone on do not disturb when you need to focus. Anyone who doesn’t respect your boundaries doesn’t deserve your time, PERIOD.
4. Treat yourself the way you’d treat a friend
I know it’s cliché but hear me out. Think about a time when a friend was dealing with something difficult like a breakup. Did you give them grace, did you listen to them, acknowledge their feelings, and encourage them? Why can’t you do that for yourself? Self-compassion may be hard to implement at first but thinking about it this way helps. I actually like to think about myself in the third person. It allows me to perceive life’s difficulties from the outside looking in so I can make objective decisions.
There are lots of potential consequences of self-criticism such as stress, anxiety, and lack of self-confidence. All of these consequences make you doubt your abilities and create a fear of failure that’s causes you to procrastinate on your goals. Practice unconditional self-acceptance and chose to still believe in yourself even when the goings get tough just like you would for a loved one. Remember the goal isn’t to get rid of your inner self-critic but to greet it with self-compassion so it doesn’t stifle you from success.