How To Stop Criticizing Yourself, According To A Harvard Psychologist

You can alter your reality for the better by changing the way you speak to yourself.

Beautiful young woman touching her hair with hands and smiling while standing in front of the mirror G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock

Many of us struggle with perfectionism, always aiming to be flawless in the eyes of others and ourselves. But this journey for "perfect" can easily turn into harsh self-criticism if not dealt with.

And as the saying goes, if you tell yourself something enough times, you'll start to believe it. So, how do we break free from this cycle?

Psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Cortney Warren discusses the best way to get rid of our negative self-talk for good.




How To Combat Negative Self-Talk

“In general, we are deceptive as humans,” says Warren. We tend to believe what we think and that what we think reflects reality. But as assistant Professor of Psychology Alia Crum tells Stanford News, “It’s essential to recognize that mindsets are not peripheral, but central to health and behavior.”


Our mindset has more of an impact than we think. According to Stanford News, people who believed their drink had caffeine saw a rise in their blood pressure. People who believed physical work at a job counts as exercise tended to live longer.

Through these findings, we can acknowledge that a positive mindset can make or break our reality. So, how can we positively change our mindset then? Warren recommends talking to yourself as you would to your best friend or someone you deeply care about and respect.

This approach quickly exposes what is and isn't acceptable to stay to yourself. After all, if you wouldn't say it to a loved one, you shouldn't say it to yourself. And while this method is a great way to stop negative self-talk, how can we truly free ourselves from our insecurities?

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Becoming More Confident In Your Looks

In the age of social media, it's hard to feel confident in the way we look. And while self-comparison is inevitable we must find better ways to manage it.

best way to combat negative self-talkPhoto: anyka via Canva

By throwing away expectations you can begin to feel more confident in yourself, writes Professor of Psychology Susan Krauss Whitbourne.


RELATED: 4 Types Of Self-Criticism That Damage Your Confidence And Sabotage Your Happiness

She continues, "You’re not going to change society’s definition of beauty, but you can change your own.”

Limit your time on social media and skip past those beauty ads. Try looking at the people you admire in real life as beauty inspiration.

Next, stop checking yourself out constantly. Get away from that mirror and put away that phone. Fixing yourself every few hours is fine, but there needs to be a hard limit. Focus more on how you feel rather than how you look, writes Whitbourne.

Stay on top of your health by using exercise as a tool for better well-being. Instead of focusing on physical appearance, concentrate on how exercise makes you feel.


Remember, while changes in your body are a bonus the most important thing is the improvement in your mental health.

Through practicing self-compassion and recognizing your negative self-talk, you can effectively address it and cultivate a more positive mindset.

RELATED: How To Believe In Yourself & Stop The Self-Sabotaging Effects Of Negative Self-Talk


Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.