There’s enough criticism aimed at us in today’s world – don’t add the power of your voice

We can be incredibly hard on ourselves – ladies, I’m talking to you!

We’re told that we’re too “something” or not enough of “something else” and it can start to feel like we’ll NEVER be “just right.”

Self-criticism is a form of negativity that can affect your life on every level. It can ruin your relationships, decrease your performance in your chosen career or in your entrepreneurial ventures, and increase your stress levels. Who needs that?

The good news? You can fight against self-criticism and negativity by changing your mindset. Here are some ways to protect yourself from negativity, and a set of affirmations to help you turn around the habit of self-criticism.

red and white no smoking sign
Photo by Jana Knorr
  • Don’t take other people’s actions personally.
    Most people act a certain way based on previous experiences (i.e. their past) and current circumstances (i.e. their bad commute, a difficult phone conversation). Their previous experience most likely has nothing to do with you, but you may get the brunt of their reaction.

    Don’t take it personally – and I understand that can be hard to remember in the moment, but give it a shot. If someone is reacting in an inappropriate way to normal interaction with you, ask a question: “Is this really about our meeting / project / phone call, or is something else bothering you?”

    Asking a question gives the other person an opportunity to rethink their actions and take a moment for a breath. It also gives you the opportunity to confirm for yourself that it’s not your fault.

    Don’t level self-criticism at yourself for something you DID NOT DO. Give yourself a break and understand that it may just be the other person reacting badly to a trigger that has nothing to do with you.
white and black no smoking sign
Photo by Erin Larson
  • Set and Enforce Boundaries
    You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    Sound familiar? That’s because it’s a piece of proven and true wisdom. No matter what you do, there will be some people who try to come up with new demands and who want to take advantage of your willingness to adjust.

    Over time, that will undermine your self-esteem, add to your impulse to self-criticize, and keep you from focusing on your priorities and goals.

    You have the power to say NO. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy, but you CAN do it. No is a complete sentence – you don’t have to explain it. Practice saying NO and setting boundaries that you follow up on and enforce.

    If someone reacts negatively to your boundaries or tries to shame or hurt you because you’ve set them, re-categorize the relationship in your own mind and heart. Someone who is trying to hurt you because you are enforcing personal boundaries does not deserve your time or attention.
Good Vibes Only sand text
Photo by Ashley Whitlatch
  • Adopt a Positive Mindset and Reinforce It with Action
    Tapping into and reinforcing a sense of gratitude will help you see all the things you have to be grateful for in your life, and will power you into ways to achieve even more.

    Start a gratitude journal and write a few things in it every day. Easy things like your enjoyment of the sunshine on a clear morning, a trouble-free commute, the music that makes you smile, or your favorite cup of coffee or tea.

    Doing this on a daily basis will reinforce positive thinking patterns and reduce both negativity and self-criticism. In addition to writing about what you’re grateful for, include yourself in that gratitude. Be grateful for your comforting and familiar routines, your choices of reading material, and the good food you’ve purchased for your breakfast.

    Be grateful for your strength and commitment to your family and friends, and for your intelligence that helps you accomplish positive things throughout your life. Include yourself in noticing what you’re grateful for, and that will help lessen your self-criticism.
brown wooden blocks on white surface
Photo by Brett Jordan
  • Concentrate on Solutions, not Problems
    We perfectly imperfect human beings tend to focus on the problems we face every day instead of putting their energy into actively seeking solutions. This results in feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction and certainly won’t help the tendency to self-criticize.

    Whenever a challenge raises its head and makes its presence felt in our lives, a productive first step is to figure out what the next right action would be to solve it. That doesn’t mean you have to have ALL the steps thought out and detailed, just the NEXT RIGHT ACTION.

    The longer you wait to take that next right step, the more obstacles will crop up. Your environment makes a difference. Walking the path toward a solution will help bring your energy up and your spirits as well.

    Surround yourself with positive people who encourage and support you – avoid the ones that bring drama to everything. Drama can be a waste of your time and energy – who needs that? In fact, that negativity will affect you sooner or later, so limit your exposure to it and save your energy for moving forward.

    Focus on what makes you happy, what helps your productivity, and don’t feed the negativity. Recognize your positive efforts and celebrate them – doing this leaves a lot less time for self-criticism. Keep a list of accomplishments nearby so that when you feel self-criticism creeping in, you’ve got the tools to combat it.

    It’s nearly impossible to speak a positive affirmation out loud and think negative or critical thoughts, so use the affirmations below to boost your resistance to self-criticism. If you can, say the affirmations out loud – take note of the ones that resonate with you right away, and the ones that create resistance.

    Employ both types of affirmations – easy ones that you believe, and ones that require you to exercise and boost your self-belief. They’re both worthwhile and will encourage the kind of personal growth that will carry you forward into success and the life you desire.

Let Go of Self-Criticism with these Affirmations

I am every bit as good as my peers.

I will not compare myself to the people around me.

I am a strong, unique, independent person and I am capable.

I possess a unique set of strengths and abilities.

I can overcome this burst of self-criticism.

I am a successful, happy person.

I am my own person, and I am good enough.

I am uniquely different from others and that is beautiful.

I understand that what makes me different is what makes me beautiful.

I know my limitations and I know I can exceed them.

I can overcome any obstacle I face.

I am important.

I will always believe in myself.

About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

Dianne M. Daniels

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