Self criticism, why do we do it and how do we stop it?
Self criticism is one of the worst forms of criticism there is. Who else is better at telling you how, fat, and ugly, stupid or incapable you are then YOU? Self criticism is something that lowers our self esteem by confirming beliefs that we hold within our subconscious minds. So how does it work? And how easy is it to change our thoughts patterns so that we can hold positive and encouraging dialogue with ourselves and ultimately change our beliefs? This article aims to answer these questions.
What is self criticism?
Self criticism is the negative internal dialogue that you hold with yourself within your mind. It is the voice that is constantly judging, comparing, abusing and being negative.
How does it work?
Each of us holds a personal belief system which is made up of our values and laws that we use to bounce ideas off to make personal decisions. It is the responsibility of our subconscious mind to communicate with our conscious mind to decide on our behavior, thoughts and feelings.
When you believe something, your mind will actively search out information to support you, even when this belief is negative. This is done by your sub-conscious asking the conscious mind to ‘keep a look out’ for things that will determine the belief as true.
When these belief systems are negative, such as ‘I am fat and unlovable’ our minds become biased and begin to interpret neutral information into supporting evidence. The more information we find to support these beliefs the more we reassure ourselves that we are right. These negative beliefs are also termed limiting beliefs and are limiting because they are not true. They are simply just beliefs.
Where does it come from?
Self criticism can come from early childhood experiences deriving from issues of abandonment, neglect and abuse. However, it is not necessary to have been through childhood trauma to experience low self esteem and forms of self criticism. Some people are naturally harder on themselves such as high achievers and ‘Type A Personalities’. “Type A individuals can be described as impatient, excessively time-conscious, insecure about their status, highly competitive, hostile and aggressive, and incapable of relaxation” (en.wikipedia.org).
Who can change it?
Fortunately, the power of change to your life lives within your own hands. You have every tool you need to change your life. All you need is an open and willing mind and a bit of time and energy for dedication.
How do we change it?
The key is awareness. A lot of people get stuck in old habits and are totally unaware they are doing the things they do. If you can become aware of when you are verbally beating yourself up you can actively make the choice to stop.
Instead of saying ‘you’re fat and ugly’ try saying ‘you look nice today’. Even if you don’t believe it, your mind will begin to change. Every time it hears something nice about itself, it goes out to support the statement and eventually starts to build a series of self-evidence.
Think of your mind as a friend. You wouldn’t let your best friend judge and abuse you so don’t treat yourself in this way.
Have the relationship with yourself that you would like to have with others, kind, compassionate, considerate and understanding.
A simple Exercise
1. Start be writing down three things you would like to believe about yourself for example I am worthy of true love, I am a beautiful and creative person, I am happy and I deserve happiness.
2. Print this out and put it in places where you will read it often for example stick it on the mirror you get changed in front of, on the fridge, on the toilet door.
3. When you catch yourself being negative, say those three things to yourself five times until the negative dialogue disappears.
4. Do this every time you hear your self put you down until you no longer talk to yourself in a negative way.
Simple daily exercises can change the way you think. When you are being positive you force your perception of the world and your internal beliefs to be positive.
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