Improving Self-Esteem: Self-Criticism is Not Self-Improvement
I hear it all the time from my clients: "If I'm not hard on myself, then what if I become complacent about the parts of me I want to improve?" Sure, it makes sense on the surface. If we are not critical of ourselves, what will motivate us to improve ourselves?
The truth is actually much more complicated than that. Imagine running a marathon. The crowd can either cheer you on for all 26.2 miles or the crowd can boo you the whole way. Which is more motivational? The thoughts in your head are the crowd; they are the noise that you hear day in and day out. Those those thoughts can cheer you on, or they can boo you. Self-criticism is going to wear us down before the end of the race.
Great, but how do I change my thoughts?
As you may have noticed, this is really hard to do!
The New York Times just did a wonderful piece on self-criticism. It provides three steps to softening those harsh thoughts and becoming an advocate for yourself in your internal world. It also discusses the benefits of mindfulness, a tool that I frequently encourage my clients to try. I highly recommend reading the New York Times piece; it is a short, easy, and useful read.
If you want to talk more about your own self-criticism and what to do about it, please feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 484-222-6436.