In a world where no one expects more of us than ourselves, the reality of who we are seems to always fall short of the standard of who we think we should be. Whether it’s the way you immediately blame your lack of intelligence for a mistake or how you assume you can’t find anything to wear because you’re not pretty enough, these negative thoughts collect in your mind and your self-criticism is what results because of them.
Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to become the best version of yourself, the act of continuously putting yourself down when things don’t go as imagined is most likely the reason why you’re struggling to reach this goal. Before you fall victim to this disheartening cycle, here are five tips to help you celebrate your journey instead of self-criticizing every step along the way.
1. Recognize what makes you unique
Sometimes we get caught up dwelling on the traits we need to work on and overlook the ones that are already worth noticing — such as your ability to calm any crying friend or your charm to talk yourself out of any situation (hey, it’s not your fault that it’s actually not your fault). By giving yourself the chance to appreciate the characteristics that make you memorable, the perspective you have for yourself will shine and your patience to improve will strengthen.
- Accept the compliments given to you
- Create a routine where you write 1-2 reasons for why you appreciate yourself
- Stop selling yourself short — a trait you’re proud of is one that matters
2. Understand and confront your inner critic
Behind every negative thought is an underlying issue that stems from it — and discovering yours may be the approach to defeating this mindset. From struggling as a victim of bullying to experiencing the trauma of an abusive relationship, the way we react to ourselves is shaped by our past and the way others made us feel during it.
Regardless of what your reasons are, the handle you have on your life is only as strong as the control you have on your thoughts — therefore, remember to take care of yourself by taking responsibility of what you let yourself think.
- Be mindful of your thoughts
- Rephrase the negative statements that pass through your mind (for example: “I was late to dinner because I never do anything right” can translate to “I was late to dinner because there was traffic — so I’ll leave earlier next time”)
- Allow yourself to feel what you need to and don’t be ashamed of it
3. Be kind to others
Instead of being your own biggest critic, you should put in the effort to be someone else’s greatest supporter. While your sister’s first clarinet solo doesn’t actually impact you, the late night practices and pep talks you gave her is what will help humble you. Through doing good deeds and being nice to others, you’ll surround yourself with positivity and inevitably begin to feel this energy towards yourself.
- Volunteer in your local community
- Self-reflect at the end of the day
- Remind yourself to stay thankful
4. Choose specific areas to improve on
Perfection doesn’t exist — but progress does. Even though the key to avoid self-criticism is to go easier on yourself, the truth of self-improvement is that we all have room to work on it. If you’re someone who lives for results, the idea of reducing your self-critism by enhancing what you’re unsatisfied with is probably the approach you’ve been looking for.
Maybe it’s learning a relevant program because you feel helpless at work, or maybe it’s picking up a new hobby because you feel uncultured — either way, your determination to grow is what will replace your criticism with confidence.
- Be realistic in order to avoid over-stretching yourself
- Make a plan and stick to it to reach your goal
- Differentiate what you do and don’t have control over
5. Appreciate your successes
Call it a humble brag or don’t (and throw a party instead — just saying), but life is hard and your moments of success are meant to be highlighted. Be it your accomplishment of beating your 5K run time or the fact that you haven’t hit the snooze button all week, but it’s important to take time out of your day to recognize your accomplishments. In the end, you’re doing the best you can and shouldn’t allow your thoughts to beat your spirits down because of it.
- Celebrate with your loved ones
- Use social media in a positive light
- Reward yourself with every success — big or small