Loosening the Bonds of Self-Criticism

So, I thought I’d “mastered” blogging (lol) when I discovered Monday night I’d erased Monday’s post and on Tuesday am, didn’t schedule it right.  After chastising myself for “ruining” Monday and Tuesday, I thought I can either keep feeling bad or let it go.   Yes, it was a mistake but not fatal or harmful, except for my beating myself up.

And isn’t this how life goes?  Whether it’s being a “good enough” mom, wife, daughter, worker, blogger, we as women focus tirelessly on where we’ve fallen short, feeling worthless and unhappy.  We are our own worst critic.  We would rarely be as unforgiving of someone else.  But we’re convinced, we deserve it!

How do we get out of this rut?  First, by practicing self-care and making our health and well-being a priority.  My “mistakes” followed two crazy weeks of non-stop activity but I was so energized by what I was doing, I told myself that would carry me through.  It didn’t.  The more depleted we become, the more likely we are to make mistakes, and vulnerable to self-criticism because negative thinking comes easier and seems truer.

Next, we need to “befriend” ourselves and extend the same kindness and generosity we would to a good friend who was feeling badly about herself.  Yes, it’s okay to treat ourselves as well as others.  It is the key to releasing self-criticism, knowing we are deserving of love although we are imperfect and make mistakes.  Unconditional love towards ourselves. 

A most important self-care skill to practice.

6 Comments »

  1. I have been catching myself calling myself “dummy” or “stupid” when I make a mistake. I’ve been able to say, “No, I’m not dumb, I just made a mistake. I am human.” Makes it so much easier to let it go after that. But it’s harder to catch self-criticism than I thought – it’s unfortunately very automatic.

  2. Thanks for your comment Stacey. Self-criticism is a slippery slope and we often don’t catch ourselves until it’s screaming at us. Kudos to you for hanging in there. Warmly, Diane

  3. I love reading your blog, they hit home with me regularly. A friend of mine suggested that maybe I should shoot for being a good mom rather than a perfect mom and then I wouldn’t always see myself as constantly falling short. It takes the pressure off that I ironically put upon myself. How do you think we can instill being less critical of ourselves in our kids?

  4. This is so, so true about becoming our own best friend, encouraging ourselves and cutting ourselves the same slack and forgiveness we would to our friends, kids, and other loved ones! What’s so funny about it is that I find that the kinder I am to myself, the kinder I am to others, which then makes me feel happier and kinder to myself, and so on. I like to think of it as an upward spiral.

    Moorni, in my opinion, one of the very best ways to instill this in our kids is to model it for them. My kids have always learned best by example. I can often see exactly what state of mind I’ve been in by observing the way my kids are behaving, especially the way they’re speaking to each other. I’ve noticed the opposite, too…when they hear me say, “Oops! I messed that up!”–big sigh–“Oh, well, we all make mistakes. I guess I’d better try that again!” they are learning how to handle themselves when they make mistakes. Just as I can hear my own negative stuff coming out of their mouths at times, I can also hear my own positive stuff coming out of their mouths as well. Paying more attention to that really has helped me enormously in being kinder to myself. We all deserve to have the freedom to make mistakes, learn from them, and move on, without being ridiculed or denigrated for it. How would we ever learn anything truly valuable in life if we never made mistakes?

  5. Thank you, Angela! Its been for me the toughest lesson to learn and yet turning it around and realizing there is a double-benefit to me learning it, spurs me on to changing the way I react and feel to my own mistakes.

  6. Moorni, your friend was so right! Perfection is a goal that’s completely unattainable. We are all human, and humans all make mistakes. We will never be perfect, no matter how hard we try. So, when you think about it that way, it doesn’t really make much sense to try to push ourselves to achieve a goal that we will never achieve. When I catch myself feeling bad that I messed up and need to remind myself of this, I try to say to myself, “Self? You are doing your best, and your best is good enough!” When I start feeling perfectionism creeping in, I try to remind myself of that, or if I need to, I’ll add “for now” (this works well for when I need to do something in a hurry and I know I can do better but don’t have time…”This is good enough for now…I can always do a better job on it next time around.”

    Anyway, it IS really hard sometimes to keep these friendly reminders in our heads for when we need them, but it’s like practicing the piano: the more you do it, the easier it gets.