Do you find that you're always criticizing and putting yourself down? Do you only see the bad qualities in yourself, never the good? If you answered yes to these questions, then you, like most people, are prone to self-criticism. We can be very judgmental when it comes to our own faults and shortcomings. Constantly thinking of ourselves as "not good enough" or stupid, can be detrimental to our health and livelihood. Negativity drains our energy as we continually try to live up to our own high standards of perfectionism while beating ourselves down at the same time. That's not to say a certain amount of introspection isn't good. If we never looked at ourselves to see what needs improvement, we would never grow or become better. There's always room for improvement. However, we don't want to be so critical that we condemn ourselves and sabotage our own success. To Stop Your "Self-Critic," We First Need to Identify The 3 Cause & Effects The following causes of self-criticism effect our self-esteem and negatively impact our livelihood... 1. Setting unrealistic demands of perfection. We all strive to meet goals in life. But when we set our aspirations so high- expecting nothing short of perfection, we set ourselves up for failure. When we fail or fall short of perfection, we blame ourselves and continue to judge ourselves as "not good enough," and believe that we're "failures," which drains us of precious time and energy as we desperately try to attain the illusion of perfection, when there really is no such thing. 2. Comparing ourselves to other people. We may compare ourselves to other people and conclude that they're better and we don't measure up. Because we focus on our own shortcomings so intimately, we compare ourselves to people based on what we see of their external successes; despite the fact that most "successful" people are painfully insecure themselves. Even the most successful people have shortcomings we can't see. We can't compare the worse we see in ourselves with the best we see in others. If we compare ourselves to others based on limited information, we perpetuate the never-ending cycle of self-inflicted misery, inadvertently skewing our perceptions of ourselves towards the infamous, yet ever so damaging, "not good enough" self-critic. We start identifying with our problems, seeing ourselves as the problem, instead of objectively viewing problems as separate from our identity and as temporary situations with fixable solutions. 3. Not making room for growth. Life is a journey. We have to take it one step at a time. We can't expect perfection and know it all when we're still in the process of creating our "story." Like an unfinished book, we wouldn't critique it and point out all it's flaws until we've read the final chapter- as the best is still yet to come. The danger in expecting perfection from ourselves is that as fallible humans, we're prone to be imperfect and make mistakes. And when the mistakes happen and we fall short of our expectations, we set ourselves up for failure, adopt the "Why even try attitude?" and give up on ourselves, believing that each failure is just another example of how unworthy we really are. 4 Steps to Silence Your Self-Critic Identify the self-criticism in your mind. Pay attention to your thoughts throughout the day and make a note of it whenever you hear yourself put yourself down. Being aware of this negative self-talk gives you the power to take control and stop judging yourself as "not good enough." Notice how many times a day you criticize yourself. Write down every feeling you experience. Tally them up at the end of the day for a period of seven days. At the end of seven days, you will have quantifiable numbers and an actual visual of how destructive your critical mindset really is to your self-esteem. Use this information as a motivator and to develop realistic goals to improve your self-esteem. Start to see your positive qualities. Focus on your positive qualities, instead of obsessing about your negatives. Noticing the positives rather than the negatives can be very powerful. If you're not used to noticing your positives, this will seem really awkward and take some practice at first, but as you get the "hang of it," you will start feeling better about yourself. You can then begin to re-write your self-esteem story and re-author your life from a life of disappointments to a life of growth and success- the guilt and shame will disappear. Stop comparing yourself to others. Accept yourself as you are- as a perfectly, imperfect human being trying your best with the noblest of intentions. Don't set yourself up to feel "less than" everyone else because it's a "sure fire" way to guarantee that you will feel "less than." This is because everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. If you compare yourself to someone who has God-given talents in specific professions, it would be like comparing apples to oranges. To demonstrate what I mean, think about comparing yourself to Oprah Winfrey as a talk show host. She's the best in the business. If you compared yourself to someone who is the best in their business, there is no way you will feel like you measure up. Oprah would be the apple and you would be the orange. She may be best talk show host, but you may be a really great writer, dancer, singer, manager, teacher, mother, or wife. There is at least one thing that you're really good at that most people wouldn't even come close to. Discover what your special talent is and focus on that. Set realistic expectations and goals. Strive to be the best you can be, not what someone else is or what someone else wants you to be. Get to know yourself well by taking the time to introspect, rest, and care for your body. Learn how to meditate, join a yoga class, or keep a journal. If experiences from the past affect your present, consider getting a coach or counselor to resolve emotional issues that may be blocking or skewing your perception of who you really are. When you know yourself well, your awareness of your strengths and weaknesses will be clear. You will then be able to set realistic expectations of yourself and not set yourself up for failure. Be patient with yourself. Understand that we're all a work in progress and remember, your story is unfinished... and the best is yet to come!