Are you constantly fighting negative self-talk? Let’s change that today!
Self-criticism is something I have struggled with for my whole life, but it didn’t originate in a bad place. When I was a child, my family set high expectations for me (in the most loving way possible). I’m glad my family pushed me to succeed in everything I did. I owe all my successes to them. They taught me to have a strong work ethic and set ambitious goals for myself.
However, throughout my life, I developed an unhealthy habit of being overly critical of myself. Failure became my worst fear. Many times, I suffered from burnout because my fear of failure was overwhelming. Whenever I fell short or didn’t succeed at something, I took it really, really hard.
I don’t blame my self-criticizing habit on my family at all. I internalized it so well that they probably had no idea I was hard on myself. But mentally, I was not in a good place. A self-pitying, abusive dialogue ran through my head every day. Even though I set awesome goals for myself, I criticized myself so harshly that I couldn’t take the necessary steps to achieve them.
2019 was the first year I really made an effort to improve my self-esteem and change the way I handle failure. Today, I am resilient. I can forgive myself when I make a mistake. It’s not an overnight thing, and I’m still working on the self-love part. But now, I am more functional, and I have seen an incredible improvement in my overall mental state.
I felt inspired to write this post because I know a lot of people are overly critical of themselves like I was, and I wanted to share some tips on how I changed my perspective.
Being overly critical of yourself is bad!
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the best version of yourself. A strong work ethic is a gift. But like anything, there is a balance between what is healthy and what is not. It’s healthy to realize when you make a mistake and learn from it. It’s unhealthy to beat yourself up over it for ages and say mean things to yourself as a result. When self-criticism stops being constructive and descends into self-devaluation, it’s time to stop and take a step back.
Excessive self-criticism will kill your confidence and rob you of mental strength. If you are too hard on yourself, you might end up like I did: paralyzed by self-doubt, fear of failure, and burnout. You don’t want that. That’s why it’s important to make sure you strive to improve in self-loving ways.
Stop obsessing over mistakes.
Rumination is a form of obsessive overthinking that causes you to constantly worry about mistakes you made in the past or what might happen in the future if you make another mistake. For example, if you repeatedly think about one stupid little thing you did and beat yourself up over it, that’s unhealthy.
It is perfectly human to make mistakes. The important thing is that you learn from them and move forward. To stop the effects of ruminative thinking, you could try to distract yourself or write in a journal. If that doesn’t help, you could go for the opposite strategy and schedule 15 minutes every day to allow yourself to ruminate. That way, you aren’t suppressing the ruminative thoughts and allowing them to build up.
Do something productive.
When I was at my lowest point, I often found myself stressing over things I couldn’t change. Worry is a wasted emotion, especially if it is over something that is out of your control. Instead, focus on the things you CAN change. If you find productive and loving ways to improve yourself, you will take attention away from the self-criticizing thoughts. If you stay productive and kill the game, your inner critic won’t have nearly as much to say.
Silence your inner critic with the truth.
If your inner critic constantly devalues you, it’s important to realize that your inner critic is a liar. Think of a verbally abusive relationship. Abusers often make up horrible lies to belittle their victims. Having a harsh inner critic is like that, except the abuser is in your head.
Sometimes, it helps to use truths to ground yourself. If your self-criticizing thoughts get carried away, they can drift far from reality. If you struggle with negative self-talk, try writing down some positive truths about yourself. Things like “I am smart” or “I am resilient.” You can refer back to them when you become too critical of yourself. You can also write down some evidence, if you think it will help. For example, “I got an A on my last test” or “Even though I went through a tough time last year, I came out stronger.” Little reminders about your accomplishments or successes in life will help diffuse your inner critic’s lies.
Don’t worry about what others think of you.
At least for me, a lot of my self-criticizing thoughts originated from caring too much about what other people thought of me. If you’re the same way, try to focus on how you feel about yourself instead of worrying about others’ opinions. This is your life, so be true to yourself! Stand by your values and know that it’s completely OK to be imperfect.
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Turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
Negative self-talk will destroy your productivity and self-esteem. It can be difficult to overcome, especially if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. The good news is that the negativity is only in your head, and it is always possible to shift your mindset into a positive frame of thinking.
Here are some ways you can stifle negative thoughts and encourage positive self-talk:
- Question the validity of all negative self-talk. (You’ll find that most, if not all, of it is untrue!)
- Use positive language. Turn every “I can’t” statement into an “I can” statement.
- Try to find something positive in every situation, and focus on that instead of thinking negative thoughts.
- Instead of fixating your mind on the problems you have, find opportunities for growth within them.
- Identify triggers for negative thoughts so you can avoid them.
- Give yourself time. A whole mindset shift won’t happen overnight. but a little progress every day will eventually add up to amazing results.
- Plan for positivity, and practice positive self-talk in advance. The worksheet below will help you!
Practice positive self-talk with this FREE printable worksheet!
I created this worksheet just for you! It will help you practice turning negative statements into positive ones.
How to use: Whenever you think something negative about yourself, write it down in the left column. Then, find a way to turn it into a positive statement. Find something good to focus on, or discover an opportunity within the problem.
- I am an idiot. —-> I made a mistake, but at least I learned a lesson from it!
- I will never be successful. —-> Even though I haven’t found the right career path yet, I have so many opportunities to explore!
By using the worksheet, you can track self-criticizing statements and have positive statements ready to combat them. When the same negative self-talk returns, you’ll already know how to shift your focus to something more positive.
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