15 Ways To Overcome Self Criticism
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15 Ways To Overcome Self Criticism

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Self-criticism can be a debilitating habit that holds you back from reaching your full potential. It’s important to recognize that self-criticism is often based on unrealistic standards and distorted thinking patterns. By taking steps to overcome self-criticism, you can cultivate self-compassion, boost your confidence, and unlock new opportunities for growth and success. Here are tips on how to overcome self-criticism.

What is self-criticism?

Self-criticism is the act of negatively judging or evaluating oneself. It often involves harsh, unforgiving thoughts and feelings towards oneself, such as “I’m not good enough,” “I made a mistake,” or “I’m a failure.” Self-criticism can stem from unrealistic expectations, past experiences, or a general lack of self-compassion.

Importance of overcoming self-criticism

Overcoming self-criticism is needed for your overall well-being and personal growth. When you’re constantly berating yourself, it can lead to a host of negative consequences, including low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and burnout. By learning to be more self-compassionate and accepting, you can break free from the cycle of self-criticism and unlock your true potential.

How To Overcome Self-Criticism

1. Recognize Your Inner Critic

Self-criticism often stems from an internal voice that judges and criticizes you harshly. This “inner critic” can be incredibly damaging, making you feel inadequate, unworthy, and incapable of growth. The first step to overcoming self-criticism is to recognize when this inner critic is speaking up.

Take a moment to pause and reflect on your thoughts. Are you berating yourself for a mistake? Telling yourself you’re not good enough? This is your inner critic in action. Once you can identify when it’s happening, you can start to challenge those negative thoughts.

2. Challenge Negative Self-Talk

When your inner critic starts to speak up, consciously challenge those negative thoughts. Ask yourself:

  1. Is this thought helpful or productive?
  2. Is this thought based on facts or just my own biases and assumptions?
  3. What would I say to a friend in this situation?

Reframe the criticism into something more constructive. For example, instead of thinking “I’m such an idiot for forgetting that deadline,” try “I made a mistake, but I can learn from this experience and do better next time.”

3. Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is about treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a close friend. When you make a mistake or face a setback, imagine how you would comfort a loved one in that situation. Then, offer that same compassion to yourself.

You can try this through self-soothing statements like “It’s okay, I’m only human” or “I’m doing the best I can.” You can also try visualization exercises, such as imagining a wise, caring figure offering you comfort and support.

4. Identify Your Triggers

What situations or experiences tend to trigger your inner critic? Is it when you’re trying a new challenge? Receiving feedback from your boss? Comparing yourself to others on social media? By understanding your triggers, you can be more prepared to respond with self-compassion when they arise.

5. Reframe Mistakes as Opportunities

It’s natural to feel disappointed or frustrated when you make a mistake. But instead of beating yourself up, try to reframe it as a chance to learn and grow. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the learning process – they’re opportunities to develop new skills, gain valuable insights, and become better versions of yourself.

Next time you stumble, ask yourself: “What can I learn from this experience?” or “How can I use this as a chance to improve?” Adopting this growth mindset can help you view setbacks as stepping stones rather than failures.

How To Overcome Self Criticism (2)

6. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and aware in the moment, without judgment. When you find yourself caught up in self-critical thoughts, mindfulness can help you step back and observe them with detachment.

Try taking a few deep breaths and tuning into your senses – what do you see, hear, feel in this moment? Bringing your attention to the present can interrupt negative thought patterns and give you a chance to respond with more self-compassion.

7. Set Realistic Expectations

Oftentimes, self-criticism arises when we hold ourselves to unrealistic standards. Maybe you expect yourself to be perfect at a new skill right away, or to never make a mistake in your job. These high expectations can set you up for disappointment and self-judgment.

Instead, try setting more realistic, achievable goals. Celebrate small wins and progress, rather than focusing on perfection. Remind yourself that growth and learning take time – it’s okay not to be an expert right away.

Related: How to set goals and achieve them

8. Surround Yourself with Supportive People

The people you spend time with can have a big impact on your self-perception. Seek out friends, family members, or colleagues who make you feel accepted, valued, and capable. Limit time with those who are overly critical or tend to bring you down.

Cultivate relationships with people who encourage your growth, validate your strengths, and help you see your worth. Their positive reinforcement can be a powerful antidote to self-criticism.

9. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool for shifting your mindset away from self-criticism. When you focus on appreciating the good in your life, it becomes harder to dwell on your flaws and shortcomings.

Try keeping a gratitude journal, where you write down 3-5 things you’re thankful for each day. These can be as simple as a delicious meal, a supportive friend, or a beautiful sunset. Over time, this practice can train your brain to scan for the positive rather than the negative.

Related: How to accept your flaws

10. Celebrate Your Successes

It’s easy to overlook or downplay your accomplishments when you’re stuck in a cycle of self-criticism. Make a conscious effort to acknowledge and celebrate your wins, no matter how small they may seem.

Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve achieved, whether it’s completing a challenging project, trying a new hobby, or simply getting through a tough day. Remind yourself of your strengths, skills, and the progress you’ve made. This can help counteract the negative self-talk and reinforce a sense of self-worth.

11. Seek Professional Support

If your self-criticism is severe or deeply ingrained, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can provide personalized guidance and strategies for overcoming this issue.

They may use techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you identify and challenge negative thought patterns. A professional can also help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and build self-compassion over time.

12. Take a Break from Social Media

Social media can be a breeding ground for self-criticism, as we constantly compare ourselves to the curated lives of others. The pressure to present a perfect image can fuel feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth.

Consider taking a break from social media, even if just for a few days or weeks. Use that time to focus on your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences without the distraction of external comparisons. When you do return, be mindful of how certain platforms or content make you feel and consider setting boundaries around your usage.

13. Practice Self-Care

Engaging in regular self-care activities can be a powerful way to counteract self-criticism. When you prioritize your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, you send a message to yourself that you are worthy of care and attention.

This could include things like:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating nourishing foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing
  • Pursuing hobbies and activities you enjoy
  • Spending time in nature
  • Connecting with supportive friends and loved ones

By taking care of yourself, you’re actively investing in your growth and development, rather than tearing yourself down.

Related: How to forgive yourself for your mistakes

14. Reframe Feedback as an Opportunity

Receiving feedback, whether it’s from a boss, teacher, or peer, can be a trigger for self-criticism. It’s natural to feel defensive or to focus on the negative aspects. However, try to reframe feedback as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

When you receive constructive criticism, take a moment to reflect on it objectively. Ask yourself:

  • What insights or lessons can I take away from this feedback?
  • How can I use this information to become better at what I do?
  • What specific steps can I take to address the areas for improvement?

Viewing feedback through this lens can help you respond with curiosity and self-compassion, rather than harsh self-judgment.

15. Cultivate Self-Acceptance

Ultimately, overcoming self-criticism is about cultivating self-acceptance. It’s about recognizing and embracing your inherent worth, flaws and all. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect – it’s about accepting yourself as a work in progress, with room for growth and improvement.

Practice affirmations that reinforce your self-worth, such as “I am enough” or “I accept myself exactly as I am.” Remind yourself that your value is not determined by your achievements or how you compare to others. You are worthy simply because you exist.


Overcoming self-criticism is a journey, but one that is well worth the effort. To sum it up, recognize your inner critic, challenge negative self-talk, and cultivate self-compassion. With all these, you can break free from the cycle of self-judgment and embrace a more empowering, growth-oriented mindset.

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