How to become less self-critical

Are you overly self-critical in some areas of your life? How do you turn a harsh inner critic that beats you up into a helpful critic on your side?

Everyone has an inner critic. You need an inner critic to prevent you from being excessively rude, doing and saying inappropriate things, and harming yourself and others.

Often, however, we are overly self-critical in specific areas in our lives, whether it’s regarding our intelligence, athleticism, social abilities, or other areas of life. If we are overly self-critical, it actually prevents us from improving and it makes us feel miserable about ourselves. Thus, there are often certain areas in which we could benefit from having a more constructive and compassionate inner critic.

Brain research shows that neuroplasticity allows people to change their thought processes and turn negative thinking into constructive thinking. It takes a lot of practice just as it does to learn a sport or language. It take thousands of thought transformations to change a harsh inner critic into a constructive inner critic. But we have time to do so. Wouldn’t you rather feel better about yourself in six months or a year than to continue to condemn and disparage yourself in that same amount of time?

1. Identify the specific negative thoughts

Become aware of the specific verbal attacks you make toward yourself. For example, “I’m so stupid.” “No one likes me.” “I’m so clumsy.” Sometimes these thoughts are so second-nature that we are not even aware of having them.

2. Think of a replacement thought

Decide what a believable replacement thought for each negative thought would be. You don’t have to think, “I’m the smartest person in the world,” because that may not be believable. A more reasonable thought replacement would be, “I’m not an idiot. Everyone makes mistakes. I’m a decent human being.”

3. Continue to practice

After thousands of thought replacements, it will become automatic. Then you will have an inner critic who is on your side and will help you to become a better person without making you suffer.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “I told her I love her on the first date. I am such an idiot.”

4 thoughts on “How to become less self-critical

  1. kris schirmer

    I recently realized how often we use a negative sentence structure instead of just the positive version, or really saying what we mean.
    example. instead of saying :
    ” I don;t think you are treating me right.”
    ” I think you are treating me wrong.”
    Is it insecurity that leads to sentences as the first version?
    cheers kris

    1. Alison Post author

      I think that when a person feels vulnerable or attacked, it is easy to become defensive and attack back or point out what’s wrong with the other person.

      If you put yourself in the other person’s shoes before defending yourself, and ask yourself what the most effective thing to say would be, you might come up with something like, “I see that you’re upset. I am just asking you to explain how you feel while treating me respectfully.” Or “I’m feeling defensive right now. I’d like you to treat me with respect.” Asking for what you want without attacking is even better than saying “I think you are treating me wrong.” Other people cannot argue with how you feel and what you want, but they can argue if you judge them.

      Thanks for your comment.



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