Being self-critical is important because it allows us to be aware of our mistakes and weaknesses. But criticize ourselves for everything is simply masochistic. If we are not attentive to the critic we carry inside, we can end up becoming our worst enemies. It is impossible for us to feel good and encourage ourselves to fight for our dreams if we criticize ourselves continuously.
Excessive self-criticism, which does not lead to an improvement but makes us feel bad, is usually a sign of poor self-esteem. In fact, if we pay attention to our inner critic, we will realize that the words we address ourselves are not even ours but are a repetition of the criticism that someone made us, whether our parents, teachers, partners or other figures significant throughout our life.
The signs of excessive self-criticism
- You blame yourself for every negative thing that happens
Thomas Harris said: “Blaming your nature for your mistakes doesn’t change the nature of your mistakes”. It is good to take responsibility for our mistakes, but from there to feel guilty for everything that happens there is an abyss. There are many external factors beyond our control, so if we want to maintain a good emotional balance, it is essential to be aware that our responsibility for the events has a limit. Feeling guilty about everything, implies carrying a weight that does not correspond to us.
- You apply yourself general labels
When we make a mistake, we can feel frustrated, so it is important that we reflect to understand where we are wrong. However, applying general labels of the type: “I am a complete failure” or “I can’t do anything right”, does not help us but ends up undermining our self-confidence. Constructive criticism, which really helps us improve, implies being specific. Every label becomes a limit, a limit that when fixed in our mind ends up becoming an insurmountable obstacle.
- You are never satisfied with your achievements
Whatever we do, we always find failures. Although we have achieved something wonderful, instead of celebrating or feeling satisfied, we focus on the small errors, the almost imperceptible flaws or the problems we had encountered along the way. In this way, we feed a permanent dissatisfaction that prevents us from feeling good about ourselves.
- You plan impossible standards
Being self-critical in excess is usually related to perfectionism. In that case, we will think that we cannot be happy or satisfied until we meet certain standards that we have imposed ourselves. The problem is that these standards are tricky because they are so high that it are practically impossible to reach, as a result, we condemn ourselves to a state of permanent dissatisfaction since we pursue an elusive goal.
- You analyze your errors in a loop
We all make mistakes. Sometimes we can remedy them, sometimes we cannot. However, if we are excessively self-critical, we will remain stuck in those mistakes, we will return again and again on our steps, although we know that there is nothing to do. The critic who lives inside us is the one who feeds the kind of negative thoughts that generate the feeling of guilt and prevent us from moving forward.
- You never congratulate yourself
It is important to be self-critical, but it is also important to congratulate ourselves for a job well done. It is stated that for each criticism, we should receive 8 compliments. Thus we manage to counteract its negative effect on our self-esteem. However, if we only criticize ourselves without recognizing everything we do well, our self-esteem will end up shattered. It is impossible to feel that we are valuable people, if all we do is criticize ourselves.
- You think in black and white
Chronic self-criticism is usually the result of a dichotomous thinking. We think that things are black and white, without considering the scale of colors in between. We believe that things must be done in a way and that if we do not obtain certain results, it will be a failure. Developing a more flexible thinking will help us become less ruthless critics. We must remember that establishing absolute ideals will make us ignore the partial successes and it will only demotivate us.
- You compare yourself continuously and you always lose out
Self-criticism implies comparison. The problem begins when we compare ourselves too often and we always lose out. This happens because we set ourselves a trap: we only look at the characteristics and things that others have and that, in our opinion, make them better or superior. In practice, we minimize our qualities and achievements, maximizing those of the others, so that we are always left behind. As a result, every time we compare we end up with a bad taste in our mouth.
- It scares you to take risks
Chronic self-criticism ends up undermining our self-confidence and self-esteem. Since we only focus on the negative and what needs to be improved, we end up developing a negative image of ourselves. Therefore, it is common for us to be frightened by challenges, because we think that we will fail or that will not perform as well as we should.
- You do not forgive yourself easily
Forgiving oneself requires setting aside criticism. However, if we are stuck in self-criticism, it will be more difficult for us to turn the page. To live fully, it is necessary to know how to forgive and update our “self”, so that the past does not determine our future.