What’s your inner voice like? Do you find yourself constantly criticizing yourself? Do you feel like you’re never good enough?
It’s time to break free from the chains of self-criticism and learn to love yourself.
Self-criticism is a common experience for many individuals, and it often stems from childhood experiences. Parents, caregivers, and other authority figures play a significant role in shaping a child’s self-image and self-esteem. If you were constantly criticized, judged, or made to feel guilty, you may grow up to be highly self-critical, always searching for flaws in yourself.
But before you criticize yourself for being self-critical, know that you became this way for an important reason…to protect yourself from harm.
When you criticize yourself, you hold yourself back from saying or doing anything that might warrant more judgment or condemnation from a caregiver. Ironically, by controlling your behaviour with self-criticism, you keep yourself safe from other’s criticism.
Consequently, the long-term negative impact of self-criticism backfires. The more you allow the inner critic to run free and take over, the more you believe this voice and the worse you end up feeling. It creates a vicious cycle of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and fear of rejection.
In relationships, the negative impact of self-criticism is far-reaching. When you criticize yourself, you become hypersensitive to criticism from others and often misinterpret cues, which can lead to unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships. Self-criticism can also cause anxiety and depression, making it difficult to form meaningful connections with others.
So how do we heal from self-criticism? The first step is to recognize it and understand where it comes from. Take a moment to reflect on your childhood and think about how you were spoken to by authority figures. Were you often criticized, judged, or made to feel guilty, even for minor things? Did you feel like you were never good enough? Recognizing and acknowledging the impact of these experiences can be a powerful step towards healing.
The second step is to show yourself compassion. Instead of being hard on yourself, try to treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Imagine you are speaking to a good friend. What would you say to them? “This is really hard and you’re doing the best you can”? Or perhaps you’d just give them a hug and tell them “I’m here for you. I believe you can do it”.
The corrective experience of self-compassion can help break the cycle of self-criticism and help you feel safer. In turn, your self-concept becomes more positive, and your relationships feel safer and become healthier.
If you’re struggling with self-criticism and how it shows up in your relationship, join me in The Connected Couple program. You will learn how to break free of this vicious cycle and create a healthier, happier relationship with yourself and your partner.