Being overly critical of yourself goes hand in hand with low self-esteem as well as other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Constructive criticism can be appropriate, healthy, and helpful at times; however, being overly critical is not. When you’re overly critical, you might have unreasonable expectations, exaggerate the negatives or you might be extremely judgemental of yourself. For a healthy self-esteem, it’s important to see yourself in a healthy, balanced way. To do that, you need to stop being overly critical of yourself.
Note that these tips are not intended as a substitute for therapy. If you’re finding it challenging to stop being overly critical, I encourage you to seek the help of a mental health professional.
How to Stop Being Overly Critical of Yourself
- Look out for signs of being overly critical. Notice your thoughts, words, actions and patterns you repeat. These might include putting yourself down or talking about yourself in a negative way. Stop putting yourself down because it’s a form of emotional bullying.
- See the positives as well as the negatives. Pay attention to the good things about yourself and get a more balanced picture. Everyone has their positives and negatives, and it’s important to stop exaggerating the negatives. Most importantly, don’t believe your negative thoughts because they distort the picture.
- Balance feelings with thoughts. It can be easy to be immersed in your feelings and act according to emotion. However, just because you feel worthless doesn’t mean you are, and it’s important to not draw conclusions based on feelings alone. It might help to see things as an unbiased outsider, and consider a “rational” as well as “feelings” point of view.
- Have reasonable expectations of yourself. It’s important to have healthy standards that are right for you. Having goals and aiming high is good but you need to stop being a perfectionist. It’s also important to stop comparing yourself to other people and avoid being overly competitive. Life is not a competition and you have your own journey. Look after yourself rather than focusing on other people’s expectations and comparisons.
- Learn constructive criticism and let go of judgement. Learn to be constructive so you can learn and grow, both from your mistakes and areas you want to improve. Ask yourself what you could have done differently or what you could do better next time. At the same time, also reflect on what you did well. For example if you have social anxiety, turning up where there is people can be a big achievement.
- Stop overgeneralisation. Overgeneralisation is distorted thinking and it’s not helpful. You’re not “stupid” or “worthless” or “ugly” and it’s important to stop making those generalisations.
- Learn to love yourself as a whole person. Self-love is important for a healthy self-esteem. It’s important to love yourself in your entirety, as you are right now, including your imperfections. Nurture yourself and treat yourself as a best friend. Give yourself permission to be happy because you deserve it.
Stop Being Overly Critical of Yourself to Build Self-Esteem
In this self-esteem video, I talk about tips on how to stop being overly-critical of yourself.