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March 17, 2020
We are all familiar with self-criticism. It is that little voice inside your head that points out mistakes and questions bad decisions. Paying attention to this “inner critic” can be useful to some extent. It can be the motivator to finally make some needed changes, but self-criticism can easily go too far. Too much self-criticism and negative self-talk can have serious effects on your mood. When that “inner critic” stops being constructive and starts being hurtful, it might be time for a change in the way you talk to yourself. Here are three ways to quiet self-criticism:
Self-criticism can take a toll on mental health and can lead many people to believe they are worthless. Often, there is a huge gap between how you see yourself and how your loved ones see you. Try seeing yourself from the perspective of someone who loves or cares about you. Think of any compliments you have received lately and if it helps, write them down. Take the time to really think about the reasons you are loved by those around you, and try hard not to shoot them down.
When you are experiencing a lot of self-criticism, again think of someone you love. If you wouldn’t say the criticism to your loved one, don’t say it to yourself. If your best friend could use to lose a few pounds you would never call her a cow, or if you did she wouldn’t be your friend for long! Try to stop yourself when you have negative self-talk that is overly critical. Ask “is this an acceptable thing to say to someone else?” if the answer is no, can the thought be reframed in a less critical way? Show yourself the same empathy and understanding as you would show a good friend.
Watch out for words like “always” and “never.” Black and white thinking occurs when thoughts stay in the extremes: “I’ll always be this way” or “things will never change.” This all-or-nothing attitude is usually a cognitive distortion and isn’t an accurate reflection of what’s really going on. Don’t let this type of self-criticism stop you in your tracks. Reframe your all-or-nothing thoughts. Try thinking of setbacks as detours instead of roadblocks. Remind yourself that one mistake or misstep does not have to affect what happens in the future. You can acknowledge the setback but reassure yourself that things can still change for the better.
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