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How to overcome excessive self-criticism

Excessively self-critical

Excessive self-criticism can really jeopardize not just your career, but also your personal life. They often say that you should be humble and there is nothing wrong in knowing your weak points. But if you do that all the time, it is no longer beneficial and in fact it begins to hold you at every juncture of your life.

According to this article

Excessive self-criticism tends to backfire, because it leads us to focus on our so-called failures instead of the “small ways that we could have improved,” says psychologist Tamar E. Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety. And over the long term, studies show, self trash-talk is associated with higher stress levels and even depression.

It is a state of mind and an attitudinal posturing that makes you question your own beliefs and doubt every thought and behavior. Whenever you are about to do something, whether physically or intellectually, there is this fog that constantly blurs your vision and creates a scary scenario. You constantly feel demotivated, under-confident an atmosphere of failure engulfs your entire existence and you constantly blame yourself – your acts, your decisions, your experiences – everything related to you becomes blameworthy.

How do you deal with the habit of excessive self-criticism? Here are a few things you can do (assuming it is not a medical condition):

Stop amplifying small errors and mistakes

Although there is nothing wrong in facing the reality in its fullest scale, sometimes we tend to amplify our mistakes simply because we are very critical about ourselves: we judge ourselves quite harshly. Whenever this feeling rises, try to look at it objectively. Is it as bad as it seems? Is it really devastating and is it really going to wreck havoc in your life, or in someone else’s life? Even if some harm has been done, can you easily make amends by some hard work and focused thinking?

You may not develop this tendency immediately but at least you will consciously have to incorporate it into your daily behavior towards yourself. If it helps, also make notes. Right about your feelings. You can create two columns, one with what you are feeling truly (excessively critical about yourself) and the second what the situation really might be.

Realize your true potential realistically and then acknowledge it

Peptalk rarely helps when you are in the grip of excessive self-criticism. People who are highly successful or even highly upbeat don’t have massive potential. Many success stories are situational, circumstantial and very often, lots of persistent, focused hard work. Rarely there are extraordinary people in this world. So realize your true potential and whenever you face failure and you get into these self-critical modes, tell yourself what you can do – realistically – and also that you can do if you put your mind on to it. There is no need to get onto a horse of imagination and fantasy only to feel more depressed and discouraged after a few minutes. The key is, being realistic.

Don’t always imagine the worst case scenario

The article above cites a good example:

Let’s say in a meeting you blurt out that your Spanx are too tight. You think, I’ve just made the biggest fool of myself. Challenge your version of the story: Did everyone really recoil in horror, or were most of them actually tapping on their BlackBerrys under the table?

Sometimes the situation is not as dire as you may think.

Be careful of the choice of words you use while explaining the situation to yourself

Instead of exclaiming, “O my God, what I have done?!” You can tell yourself, “Okay, I have messed up, but there is still some chance to undo the damage, I just need to focus.” When it comes to life, there is never “end of road”. Life is always full of surprises no matter how hopeless the current situation seems.

Read the remaining points in the original link above.