When going through the self-love journey, you’ll most likely realize that you’re more critical about yourself than you expected. Self-criticism can become overwhelming when you’re trying to love yourself more. To help you balance your self-criticism, I’m going to show you the best ways to turn self-criticism into self-love.
Some of us grew up with people around us criticizing us. We were either not good enough or had an issue with our appearance. These people could be our parents, siblings or teachers. The result of these criticisms is that we end up believing in them, and it became the way we also talk to ourselves.
When we’re alone, or when we’re doing a task. We get into a state where we self-sabotage ourselves with criticism. We either say things like,
“I’m a failure,”
“I’m not pretty enough,”
“I’m not good enough.”
Saying things like the ones mentioned above can hurt our self-esteem and put us into an anxiety state. Some people are suffering from anxiety and don’t know exactly why. One of the reasons why we’re feeling anxious might be the way that we reprimand ourselves.
So how can you change your self-criticism dialogue into self-love?
I had my journey with self-love, and it just doesn’t end. It’s a continuous journey, and you’ll have to find a way to fight it, find it and repeat.
What’s the meaning of self-criticism and self-love?
In Emmerance’s words, self-criticism is what you say about yourself, especially about your weakness.
In Emmerance’s words, self-love is the love that you have for yourself, with no exception. You love yourself because you’re simply you, not because of your strengths or appearance.
How does self-criticism works?
As mentioned above, some of us grew up around adults that would criticize us. As we grow, without knowing better, we learn to speak their language, and most of the time, that language becomes our own. Therefore, we learned how to criticize ourselves since we were little.
If you grew up with parents that always blamed you, comparing you with your siblings or another kid in the neighbourhood, you’d most likely grow up with a similar dialogue when speaking to yourself.
For example, you might say things like:
“How can I be so stupid.”
“I’m never going to be successful like him.”
“They have it all together, and I’m slacking with my work.”
“She always gets a promotion because she’s pretty, and I’m not.”
Adults that we grew up with are the main reason we end up criticizing ourselves. Sometimes it’s not their fault at all. Some of us grew up with loving parents or had amazing adults that kept pouring loving words to us.
Yet, some of us learn to criticize ourselves without being aware of it. It might be the way people treat us, the way we value ourselves or if we have weaknesses that we’re ashamed of.
Self-criticism is like self-sabotaging. You’re not helping yourself when you criticize yourself all the time. You have to know that words are powerful; the more you say things, the more you believe them, and the more you become what you believe.
How do you turn self-criticism into self-love?
Self-love works the same way as self-criticism. We learned the language of an adult that poured love into us. So self-love can be easy for someone that had loving parents.
However, what do you do when you didn’t learn self-love when you were a child? The answer is; we can always learn a new language, and with practice, we get better at it.
Self-love is a journey. Self-love is self-acceptance, compassion and patience. You accept yourself the way you were created, and you work to turn your weaknesses into strengths. That’s self-love.
There are many ways you can turn your self-criticism into self-love. The primary thing is to be less hurtful with your words when you speak to yourself.
Picture yourself talking to someone that you genuinely love. It could be your mother, a sibling, or your husband/wife.
Now, think of a time when the person you care about asks you what you think about what they’re wearing. Even though they’re not looking good, you try to find the right words to avoid hurting their feelings.
Yet, when you look at yourself in the mirror, that dialogue might not be the same. You don’t try to find the right words to avoid hurting your own feelings.
Usually, your brain doesn’t filter your words when it comes to you because you know what’s on your mind; there are no secrets here. The only option is to become more sympathetic to yourself.
How can you become more compassionate in your self-talk?
1. Realize that your self-criticism isn’t helping you
Suppose you want to know if your self-criticisms are sabotaging you. As in, it’s making you unhappy or creating anxiety. You would like to be conscious of how you talk to yourself and how you speak of yourself.
A simple but not so easy exercise you can do is looking at yourself as a third person. Whenever you’re alone, performing a task or speaking to other people, be aware of what you tell yourself or how you talk about yourself.
When you’re alone and your thoughts start flowing, you can write them on a piece of paper. Afterwards, you can start reading the notes and see if you were criticizing yourself.
If you’re not someone that likes writing down your thoughts, try to stay conscious whenever a negative thought pops out. Watch your thought pattern and what you say when you criticize yourself.
When you’re having a conversation with another person, you have to stay present and be conscious of how you talk about yourself.
So the first step here is being aware of the dialogue that’s going on in your head. Sometimes, it’s out loud. Eventually, it would help if you looked at how that affects your emotions.
Most likely, your self-criticisms are affecting your emotions negatively. The good part about this first step is realizing how your thought pattern isn’t helping you. This exercise will train your brain to find better words when you’re criticizing yourself.
2. Know that you’re not perfect and you’ll never be
Now that you’re aware of how your self-criticism isn’t helping you, you have to be realistic with yourself. I want you to know that nobody in this entire world is perfect. The person that you’re comparing yourself to is probably going through the same situation.
Self-love is all about accepting yourself as you are. You’re not perfect, but you were created perfectly. Meaning that there’s nothing wrong with you; you don’t have to be upset at yourself.
However, it’s always good to improve yourself. When you realize that you have weaknesses, the best way to improve yourself is to know your weakness and try your best to turn it into your strengths.
Sometimes, we’re not realistic with ourselves. We set up goals, plan things, and when we’re unable to meet our objectives in time, we get frustrated and start blaming ourselves.
When we fail to reach our goals, we turn towards ourselves with unpleasant things to say. Out of frustration, you call yourself stupid or not good enough.
Therefore, to prevent ourselves from getting frustrated, we have to be realistic with our goals.
How to be realistic with your goals?
Setting realistic goals is to set goals that you’re able to reach. It can be the time frame, the number of tasks that need to be done or simply if you have the right tools to do it.
You can challenge yourself with different goals you want to achieve. However, it’s always good to know if they’re feasible or not. If you still challenge yourself with realistic goals and you’re unable to achieve them, remember the following:
Give yourself chances to fail.
I find that many people think that they can do something for the first time and succeed. If that’s you, I want you to know that failure is part of learning.
You won’t know if your goals are realistic if you’ve never failed. Failing gives you a chance to look at the main factor that didn’t work. And no, you’re not the main factor.
It’s your opportunity to see if you needed more time or if you had the right tools etc. So failure isn’t a bad thing. I always encourage people to fail. It can be frustrating at first, but it’s the experience that you’re accumulating.
An excellent book to read to understand more about failing is the book Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn by John C. Maxwell. In the first chapter, the author explains how our self-talk can become overwhelming and how you can get over it. So I highly suggest that book if you’re struggling with failing.
Give yourself breaks
When you’re setting up goals to improve yourself, you have to know that it takes time to improve. You have to be patient with yourself and understandable.
Sometimes, you need to take a break. Take a full day off where you don’t criticize yourself. On that day, you focus on your strengths, and you praise yourself for being awesome.
Look at the positive side of things.
Like I made you realize that there was an opportunity when you fail, you can look at the positive side of things the same way.
I can provide you with some examples, so you have to find the positive side of things when you’re going through them.
Let’s say that you set up a goal to lose a specific amount of weight in 30 days. You go for a run daily, lift some weights, eat the right food. After the 30 days, you didn’t lose that specific amount of weight you thought you’d lose.
It can be frustrating, and you might start getting frustrated at yourself. That’s understandable because I’ve been there. However, if you’re not an active person but still showed up every day and ate the right food for 30 days. You have to congratulate yourself on that.
The right word here is you tried. You can turn your frustration into a positive dialogue:
“At least I showed up,”
“At least I tried.”
You probably didn’t lose the weight you wanted but look at the number you lost. That’s still a victory.
3. Practice self-love daily
The last method that can help you turn self-criticism into self-love is to practise self-love daily. As mentioned above, self-love is a continuous journey, so this will never end because our brain is continually looking for something to criticize.
I’m a firm believer that we should challenge ourselves to be better. So it’s good to criticize yourself; however, it has to be constructive. When you start to knock yourself down, you have to find a way to get better without saying hurtful things to yourself.
You can practice self-love in the long term and short term; here are a few examples.
In the long term:
Counselling helped me in so many ways. I ended up doing it to help me understand why I was so hard on myself. The counselling sessions were life-changing to me, and I’m looking at doing it again for different reasons.
I explained in the two blog post series on counselling how it helped me with my mental health and helped me build resilience. It was a fantastic experience. Along the way, I was happy to see how I have improved, which helped me increased the love that I have for myself.
Counselling might help you decrease your self-criticisms by making you understand where it came from. It might be from your childhood experiences or something that happened to you. No matter what the reason may be, you will be able to alleviate that stress.
Reading multiple books on self-improvement.
When you read books that help you develop your weaknesses, you become less and less critical about yourself. Self-improvement books help you understand human nature, which will help you know yourself better.
Therefore, starting now, you can pick one book a month and read about a specific subject that you’d like to learn more about. There are so many books and great authors out there. You can learn from them because everyone has amazing things to share.
Learn how to take care of yourself
Learning and practicing self-love is an everyday thing. Sometimes, you will not feel like it. However, as you create a routine around it, it will help you value yourself more.
We spend our time taking care of material things that end up lasting for years. However, when it comes to us, we’re unable to do so. I believe that some of us are so critical of ourselves because we don’t take care of ourselves well.
Some people let themself overeat, shower once a week, don’t sleep enough, don’t exercise, let other people talk bad about them etc.
The goal of taking care of yourself is for you to last longer. I can’t say that this will guarantee that you’ll live longer. However, you’ll live happier if you do the necessary to stay healthy overall.
When I say healthy, I’m talking about mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. If you’re able to take care of those four things, as I explained in depth in How To Choose Yourself, you’ll live happier.
In the short term:
Change your dialogue
Changing your dialogue is changing the things that you say to yourself often. When you realize that you say these negative words about yourself on repeat, you start believing in them. To change that, practice writing the words down and switching it to sound more positive instead.
“I’m not good at relationships; all my relationships fail.”
“Relationships are hard; however, I’m doing my best to make it work.”
“I’ll never be able to lose weight.”
“I’m able to lose as many weights as I want with the necessary tools.”
“Why do I always overlook things?!”
“I should plan my work better to make sure that all the tasks are done.”
“People always think that I’m a bad person.”
“I don’t care what people think of me. I know that I’m a good person, and I’m doing my best to help others.”
“I’m unable to do things right.”
“Whether I do things right or not, the essential is that I’m learning.”
When I spoke to my therapist, he helped me enormously by telling me that I have a negative dialogue when it comes to myself. You want to improve, but you still believe that you’re incapable of doing so. Confidence does start with us, how we view ourselves. Because once I stopped self-criticizing myself, that’s when I gained confidence.
Practice self-care every day and month
If you want to fall in love with yourself, practicing self-care cannot be overlooked. Self-care is the activity that you do to yourself that is therapeutic for you. Here are some examples of self-care:
- Taking bubble baths
- Going for a run/walk
- Taking a day off to focus on yourself
- Do a beauty mask and read a book
- Unplug yourself from social media for 24h
- Spending time with people that you love
- Watch a movie
- Washing your hair
- Do a manicure/pedicure
- Take a day off from work
- Read a novel
- Take a long shower
- Wash your hair
On that list, I’m probably doing 90% of them weekly. It’s essential to look at that list and pick at least two things you’ll start doing. These self-care activities will help reduce negative thoughts while you focus on your relaxation time.
Stay conscious of your dialogue and emotions.
Take into consideration how you talk to yourself, how you talk about yourself to others, how you set your boundaries, and how you let people treat you. Pay attention to all four of them daily, and it will help you adjust the things that aren’t making you happy.
Some of us need to work on self-criticism, but we also have to pay attention to what we let other people say. If someone is comfortable enough to call you dumb, you have to know that the only reason they’re comfortable doing so is that you allow them to do it.
Therefore, it’s essential to set your boundaries. What you’re going to allow and what you’re not going to allow. Don’t think that you’ll sound “soft.” What’s important here is your mental health.
I never get too shy to say to my friends that I do not appreciate a specific behaviour. There are things that I allow to do to myself, and if self-criticism is something that I’m working on, I expect my friends to help me through it, too, by not adding extra weight.
Self-criticism is good until it starts hurting us and bringing us down.
To finish, I wanted you to remember that not all self-criticism is terrible. Some of us grew up with criticism in the household, making us learn that language and speak it. Some of us knew it at school or with friends in the neighbourhood, always comparing ourselves.
However, the negative dialogue starts to affect us mentally and bring anxiety into our lives. The negative talk is what we want to avoid. Therefore, try every day to be less harsh on yourself. Be patient with yourself, set realistic goals, and accept failure.
On the other hand, practice how you can change your negative self-criticism into a positive one. Practice self-love and self-care every day because you will have less negative criticism to say about you when you’re improving yourself.