Self Criticism vs Self Compassion: Finding The Balance
Being Your Own Worst Critic
You think you’re being a realist. You think you – and everyone around you – have these high standards that always need to be met. You think you’re the furthest thing from perfect and everyone knows it. But what if you’re wrong, and your self-esteem is probably suffering for it? The hardest things to control are the ones that are external to you, and luckily your self-worth, and how you define it for yourself, isn’t one of those things. Finding a balance between self criticism and self compassion may just be the key.
Striving to better one’s self should never come with excessive criticism and pressure. Now, it’s time for us to work our ways out of the self-deprecating views we have of ourselves while finding our unique path to having a healthy self-esteem.
Understanding Self Criticism
A healthy self-esteem allows you to:
- Properly express your needs and opinions
- Be confident in making decisions
- Actually be more realistic in your own expectations, without being over-critical of yourself and others
Self-criticism is the most likely way that this healthy balance can be lost. We commonly mistake it for a device to help us towards self-development, but when does it become self-bashing? Can you honestly say that all of the critiques you have about yourself are constructive? You may be robbing yourself of mental and emotional strength.
Before you can begin healing your relationship with yourself, you have to get rid of the inner critic plaguing your thoughts, because your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the ultimate power over your attitudes and behaviors towards the world around you. You’re not alone. Self-doubt and harsh words are common, but you don’t have to be a victim of your own verbal abuse.
Harsh self-criticism has the potential to generate interpersonal stress, as well as interfere with your ability to experience positivity while being able to call on support in times of need. Such a negative mental environment can induce emotional distress, which in turn might increase self-criticism. The cycle continues.
It’s time to let that little voice in your head whisper kinder things; give your mind comfort, rather than nag.
Subdue Your Inner Critic (Self Criticism)
- Pay attention to your thoughts. Pay close attention to your thoughts. Learn to recognize your thought patterns and understand how your thinking affects your life.
- Replace the negative thoughts that you amplify in your mind with realistic statements. A balanced and clear-sighted outlook is key to becoming mentally stronger.
- Seriously, consider how bad it would be if everything is like you envision in your – negative – thoughts. Often the worst-case scenario won’t be as bad as we fear. Remind yourself that you can handle tough situations. It’ll increase your confidence.
Self compassion will help you to generate more positive feelings that can balance out your insecurities. This will make it easier to believe that you are capable and worthy.
Making A Case To Practice More Self Compassion
Self compassion is a teachable skill and, like all skills, mastery of that skill comes through repetition. Identify what you really want by thinking about how you use self criticism as a motivator because you think being hard on yourself makes a difference. Instead, think of the most positive and realistic message that would be in line with your need to be healthy, stable, and happy. Try to be mindful as much as possible.
One way to do that is to journal your progress. Write down anything you’ve felt bad about, or anything you’ve judged yourself for. Then, journal an alternative, compassionate way to deal with these situations. Secondly, if a journal isn’t as viable for your lifestyle, try a mantra. That mean voice in your mind will always be quick to remind you that you weren’t really good enough, so counter that with a self compassionate voice, that reminds you to stop the negative spiral of fear and self-doubt in its tracks.
Complete transition to self compassion isn’t guaranteed, but finding a balance is key. Keep in mind that balance is an ongoing process. Being balanced does not automatically mean being content, but it would allow you to be more level-headed. You may not always have it and may slip into self-criticizing again, but if you found it once, it means you’ll always be able to find it again. The best way to achieve this is by prioritizing the words and thoughts that you need to be nicer to yourself, with a focus on what would be beneficial to your mental health. In order to stay on course, you may have to re-examine your priorities regularly.
In your own life, this can translate into a variety of things. Remember that both accomplishments and failures are part of the balance. Most of us have plenty of both already in our lives, but we may not always pay equal attention to them. If you are someone who focuses on your failures, try to give notice to the small moments of success, giving yourself a break from the drudgery of harsh self-criticism. Internally examine what your fears are rooted in, as well as why such a strong focus on the negative instead of the positive has been such an entrenched part of your life. In all of this, the key thing to remember is not to be hard on yourself about your self-criticism. It’s normal to fall out of that awareness back into more familiar thoughts. Just go back to the positive when you can. That’s balance.
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