Self-care September: Self-criticism Doesn’t Have to be Cruel!

We may not like to admit it but we all talk to ourselves! Each of us has a choice about the types of things we say. We tend to either be kind & compassionate or cruel & critical. Being self-critical isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it depends on the type of self-criticism we engage in (and how often etc.). How does all this relate to the topic of self-care?

 

One of the ways we can practise good self-care is by choosing to be constructively self-critical rather than destructively self-critical. Consider the following example:

 

You make a silly mistake at work and a colleague has to spend a decent amount of time dealing with the consequences of your error.

 

Destructive self-criticism sounds like this: “I am such an idiot! I can’t believe I made such a STUPID mistake. I am such a failure. It’s only a matter of time before everyone realises just how incompetent I am.”

 

Does this sound familiar to you? How does it make you feel when you say these things?

 

A kinder way of responding to the above situation would be to constructively criticise ourselves. For example:

 

“I accept that I’ve made a mistake. How can I respond to this healthily? Beating myself up isn’t going to do any good. I’m only human and everyone makes mistakes. I’m going to learn from this to reduce the likelihood of it happening again. Learning from my mistakes is part of what makes me good at my job.”

 

Notice how the kinder way of responding to a mistake still involves self-criticism. Notice that it also doesn’t involve lowering your standards, accepting mediocrity etc. Being constructively self-critical is one way we can take care of ourselves as we work towards our goals.

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