The saying, “we are our own worst critic,” could not ring more true to me. I’ve always been harder on myself than anyone else, and it’s very easy for me to find flaws or faults in my actions or appearance. Maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist and I seek for things to be absolutely the best they can be, or maybe I’m subconsciously trying to make sure I live up to the standards set by society and all of the photo shopped images I see in magazines and on instagram. Whatever the reason, I’ve acknowledged the harm it does, and I want all girls to know that self-criticism does not heal, it does not make us better: it only makes us weaker and more vulnerable to the other critics out there.

Powers et al., state that negative, self-critical, forms of perfectionism are consistently associated with a wide range of negative personality characteristics when studied. This includes impaired functioning, low satisfaction and well-being, and a variety of pathological malfunctions; such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

So how do we end the cycle? How do we stop ourselves from always being hesitant about our looks, afraid of disappointing others, and having low confidence due to the fear of not being good enough? The following are some ways to stop being so self-critical, improve your attitude about yourself, and get to feeling better about who you are!

    Make a list of the most common expressions you say or think about yourself: thinks like “I’m so stupid,” “I messed up again,” or “I’m not good enough” are all things to be corrected.

    Change all of the negative statements to something positive. For example, “I am doing my best/did the best I could in that situation,” “Everybody makes mistakes, it is going to be okay.”

    Consciously acknowledge when you are being critical of yourself. Often times we don’t even realize that we are criticizing ourselves, so being vigilant about it is important. If you recognize that you’re doing it, you can make the changes to positivity more easily.

    Repeat your new thoughts, especially when you’re judging yourself, or just feeling down. You can even carry the positive statements around with you on notecards as a handy reminder.

    Tune out the inner voice of criticism: do not accept yourself as someone who beats herself up for not living up to certain standards. That is a dead end that only leads to misery and constant unhappiness. Start today by emphasizing your many good qualities!

Nothing good comes from beating ourselves down and always nitpicking the things we do. The research shows that it only causes harm in the long run. Take control today and get out of the cycle of being self-critical.


About the Author:

Emily is a dual-degree seeking student in psychology and communication disorders, with minors in biomedical sciences and nonprofit management. Emily plans on getting her master’s degree in neuroscience then going to medical school. Emily wants to become a doctor of neurology, specializing in disorders affecting communication.