A recent survey found that the average woman receives eight reviews per day. We criticize our own appearance, speech, statements, behavior in society.
It is because of the self-critical statements we make on a daily basis that we fail to do what we really want, to miss out on ourselves, to say what we think or to enjoy the moment – all because the general thought behind all these criticisms is in the form of that most devastating sentence – I’m not good enough. When such a more or less conscious belief leads us through life, we will in many ways encounter great obstacles.
There are two types of self-criticism – one aimed at comparing oneself with others and one that is internalized. People who are prone to self-criticism that rest on comparing themselves to others often see others as superior and better than themselves.
Internalized self-criticism rests on a person setting unachievable standards for himself and is never satisfied with his success. Things are often not black or white, so self-criticism is not a bad thing in itself.
The key is in the nature of the statements we make in the moments we speak to ourselves. Statements like I am a total buck. It never goes out of my way. I Will Never Be Successful are toxic statements that do not encourage us at all to be better. On the other hand, when we criticize a particular behavior and not ourselves as a person, we are halfway to improvement.
Rooted in the past
Sometimes that is hard to do because that emotional part, that anger over ourselves overcomes, and instead of focusing on behavior that needs to be repaired, we collapse on ourselves as a whole. Some people go to extremes in this part, so they have very deep-rooted negative schemes about themselves. We may wonder where they come from?
Some theorists argue that such general perceptions of ourselves may have roots in the relationship we as children had with the person who cared for us.
Namely, at some point in growing up, children primarily begin to strive for independence and autonomy. If the parent suffocates this need too much, the child may develop a sense of inadequacy and uncertainty about their choices and actions. A parenting style based on overriding boundaries and a lack of warmth at the same time can also be linked to a later critical attitude towards oneself and others.
To console yourself
Self-criticism should be replaced with empathy for oneself. Then we look at ourselves as a good friend whom we comfort when it is difficult, but also friendly advice when we think he should have done something differently.
Such a relationship with ourselves in no way deprives us of stepping safely towards the pursuit of our goals, but it helps us to view our own sufferings, failures and mistakes as part of a shared human experience that actually brings us closer to others and from which we get a new opportunity.
Perhaps the biggest problem with self-criticism is the problem that binds to most of the negative thoughts we have on a daily basis. They are often completely unconscious and automatic statements that shine in our minds like sudden flashes and blind us. That is why it is important to raise these thoughts to a conscious level where we can begin to think about them, to notice them as soon as they occur, and overtime to actively replace them with statements in which we will constructively criticize some of our behavior and not ourselves as a person. Although we are often hostages to our own negative thoughts, it is a good thing that we can definitely learn to control them. The process should be thought of as a workout that, just like the physical one at the beginning, is the hardest and most tedious, but slowly but surely delivers better results over time.