Self-criticism harms your emotional and physical health. Here how to stop criticizing yourself, learn to love yourself, and become your own best friend.
Today, I attended a webinar by a life coach who sells a coaching program for women. A lot of what she said was fine and sat well with me until she told her audience that it’s ok to criticize yourself.
Coming from a life coach, I found this shocking because, in all my years of working on healing and empowering myself, one of the truths I’ve learned is that negative self-talk and self-criticism are at the root of low self-esteem and depression.
One of the people who brought this home to me is the celebrity hypnotherapist, Marisa Peer, who worked with celebrities like Princess Diana. In her Free Masterclass on MindValley, she explains why our negative self-talk is one of our worst enemies.
If you find yourself trapped in the cycle of self-criticism and low self-esteem, I highly recommend her hypnotherapy programs.
Self-criticism and lack of self-acceptance are very harmful to our emotional and physical health. Many years ago, these were the very states of mind that created serious health problems for me.
When you lack self-acceptance, you will be unable to accept others for who they are. You will be unable to give and receive unconditional love because you’ll never feel worthy of it.
Besides causing you immense unhappiness, it will impact the people closest to you – your family, your spouse, your kids, and your co-workers. If you want to be truly, genuinely, happy, you must learn to love and accept yourself.
Through Buddhist teachers like Pema Chödrön and Cheri Huber, I learned that the antidote to self-criticism is self-compassion.
Another Buddhist practice that I found very healing was the practice of Mettā (Pali) or maitrī (Sanskrit), which means benevolence and loving-kindness. Download this free loving-kindness mantra to your phone and read it every day.
As a Jungian, I believe very much in inner-child healing, the practice of reparenting oneself to heal your childhood wounds.
One of my favourite resources for this is Margaret Paul’s book Inner Bonding: Becoming a Loving Adult to your Inner Child.
Watch her video on Inner Bonding below.
Think of yourself as a little child trying to navigate the world every day, which is what we’re all doing, regardless of age.
Would you browbeat and criticize that child for making a mistake, for falling down while learning to walk? No? Then why would you criticize yourself for learning and growing? Or for just being who you are?
Every time you think a self-critical thought that makes you feel bad, stop yourself and replace it with a more compassionate thought.
If you make a mistake, stop beating yourself up about it. Instead, tell yourself that you’re learning what not to do and will do a better job next time.
No one’s perfect, nor should they try to be. Striving to be perfect is usually an unhealthy response to your critical inner voice that is telling you it’s not ok to fail.
You need to figure out where that voice comes from (was it a parent, a teacher, a family member?) and use the resources above to reprogram the code that is running your life.
Today, loneliness has become an epidemic because people are so disconnected from their inner selves that they look for fulfilment in other people and things.
There are many, very successful achievers who turn to addictions and materialism because they feel empty inside. But no person, thing, or achievement can ever fill up that hole in your soul.
Only learning how to love yourself and being your own best friend will do that. Life is not all about achievement and success, as the world defines it.
It’s also about learning to grow and evolve. To be happy, fulfilled, and at peace with who you are. The biggest step you can take to boost your self-esteem and become a happier person is to practice self-love and self-compassion.