By: Kathy Best, CRRC, ACCR, PSDC, CNT, August 12, 2019
Self-criticism is another sabotaging behavior that I’m personally familiar with. This one can keep you stagnating in old beliefs, stories, and drama, recreating the same painful experiences over and over even as you try making external changes hoping for better experiences. I’ve found that this one really requires dedicated focus and attention as it tends to be such an unconscious behavior. It can easily slip past your defenses and wreak havoc on the new foundation you’re creating. Self-criticism is a learned behavior, usually implanted into our subconscious at an early age and added to layer by layer from external events that reinforce our inabilities and powerlessness. Like any learned behavior it takes conscious effort to replace it with something more authentic and useful. The likelihood of any of your self-critical thoughts originating from you is slim.
As human beings we tend to more easily accept the negative feedback we get from those around us and dismiss any positive feedback. This tendency stems from a lack of self-esteem and self-love activated by an environment that left us feeling neglected, unwanted, unloved, or inadequate. People with a healthy sense of self-worth recognize that everyone has faults, makes mistakes, and other people’s opinions do not define who we are. Opinions are simply attitudes that others develop based on their childhood programming, life experiences, and their perceptions of themselves in comparison to others. None of it is true or even reality, it simply enables them to make sense of and take comfort in a world that is challenging and painful to them. Mistakes are simply errors in thought that require compassionate course correction. Every perceived fault, mistake, or challenge you transcend illuminates the unique gifts, talents, skills, and innate abilities you were given and offers you opportunities to express your divinity in service to the highest good of one another and the planet.
Your mind has been trained by your family, your peers, your teachers, your culture, and yourself to focus on and magnify what you perceive as lack, limitation, inadequacy, shame, guilt, and sin. I tell you now that the only sin you have ever committed is believing the hateful, negative, unloving things others have told you and playing the game of life as if you were small and insignificant. You do yourself the most damage by hiding your light and genius so that others don’t feel threatened or jealous. You were designed by the Creator to make manifest the glory and magnificence of Itself – in you, through you, and as you. Choose today to rewire you heart and mind and honor all of Life by believing, thinking, speaking, and doing everything with love, gratitude, grace, compassion, courage, and respect. This can be a tall order – especially for someone that has spent most of their life with a pessimistic, self-criticism attitude, so DO NOT judge, condemn, shame, or berate yourself when you slip back into old habits. Applaud yourself for noticing that you slipped and take gentle, kind steps back toward a higher ground.
Start today to fall in love with yourself, by looking in the mirror each morning and evening and telling yourself how much you love and appreciate your body, your mind, your feelings, and your soul. Spend 5 minutes morning and night accepting yourself just as you are, forgiving yourself for any perceived mistakes, praising yourself for smallest accomplishments and the biggest achievements in every area of your life, uplift yourself, hug yourself, and nourishing yourself with kind, compassionate, thoughts, words, and actions. When you find your mind attempting to fall back into old patterns, don’t judge, criticize, or give up – simply refocus your attention on thoughts of forgiveness, love, happiness, peace, and gratitude. Spend more time asking yourself how you can better serve others. This doesn’t mean you give all of your time and energy to helping others, it means you make an effort to be kinder, gentler, and more compassionate towards all of the children of the world. Compared to the universe and our planet we are all still children evolving and growing as those around us model for us how to behave.
Start writing every day, write down at least five things that you are grateful for about yourself, about your work, about your home, and about other people in your life. Compliment yourself and others often. Any time your mind starts returning to negative patterns recognize that it’s only doing what it thinks you want it to do and it will take time to create new habits and patterns. Tell your mind you choose to think about your positive attributes and the ways in which you add value to the world. Acknowledge even your small successes, and accept the compliments that other people give with grace and gratitude.