If you're like me, you don't need anyone else to tell you you've stuffed up. 

The voice inside your head is loud enough! 

You are your own worst critic because you know you can do better and beat yourself up that you didn’t.

Maybe you missed something? 🤔

My friend, I hear you loud and clear. We go wayyy back.

You’re someone whose work ethic would never be questioned, you go above and beyond, you put your whole self into literally, well everything, but alas, the times when you do stuff up, they overshadow all your other achievements.

 A bar graph showing how limiting beliefs hold you back and how looking at the truth can improve performance

Image credit: Janis Ozolins

Don’t get me wrong, some healthy criticism of one’s work, I think is good for you. I feel it helps me grow, feeds my hunger to learn, and improve. But it’s when it starts to take over that we need to stop and reflect.

What is self criticism? 

Self criticism - it all comes down to how as an individual, we evaluate ourselves. Is it a true reflection what you’re feeling/thinking right now? I am by no means a Psychologist, but as someone who’s lived with this tendency for as long as I can remember, there are a few things I do to try to manage these thoughts...

Is it Your truth, or The truth?

If you have a tendency to overly self criticize, then zero in on who in your life you know would tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. These are the people you trust wholeheartedly. 

I go to these people when I need a real reality check. I tell them what happened, what I did, what I'm feeling and thinking, what others said etc - and they help me sound it out and reflect. These people have been vital on my journey to being kinder to myself. 

Treat yourself with the same grace and empathy you do others

Everyone else is allowed to make mistakes!

But, for some reason, you are not. 🤔

I think of every conversation I’ve ever had with a colleague or a friend, when they’ve made a mistake. Maybe their part of the project was delivered late, or maybe your friend borrowed your dress and destroyed it. Maybe you went to visit a relative and they were meant to pick you up from the airport, but fell asleep instead and left you wondering what was going on (true story!) You are far from being a push over, but you are definitely reasonable. Your response was reasonable.

But the same (sometimes) cannot be said about the chats you have with yourself. At times when I hear the voice inside my head say things like “Why didn’t you explain your idea clearer? You didn’t make any sense!”, “ You’re useless, you’ve been so unproductive today, you got nothing done!” and "you're procrastinating again! Ah!" I try to remind myself that...

  1. I too am allowed to make mistakes &
  2. I would never say that to a friend, colleague, relative, stranger - so why say it to myself?

I'm still learning and working on this one. 

Be your own Devil’s advocate 

I regularly play Devil’s advocate with myself. I find it helps a lot.

Flip the chatter in your mind around, and stand up for yourself against your inner bully.

Also, call out any and all B.S!

“Obviously I got my idea across as my colleagues said they thought it was a good idea!”

“My self worth is not linked to how productive I was today! Grrr!”

Reflect regularly 

I try to journal but often forget to. But I do regularly pause and think (and remind myself) about the things I’m grateful for, what I’m proud of, my goals, and that my future is limitless. Always brings the feels. 🥰

If you're someone who enjoys journaling, keep it up! And make it a priority to include the things you are kicking goals at. 

Pink diary with title Today I am Grateful

Know you have the goods, and remind yourself regularly! 

Go grab a notepad and write down the top 5, 10, 15, 80 (as many as you want!) things that come to mind when you ask yourself:​

  • What would your biggest fan say they love about you?
  • What are you most proud of? Think work but also outside of it.
  • What do you love best about yourself? Think holistically!

Self criticism itself isn’t the issue 

It’s getting stuck in a self criticism cycle that is, and allowing it to negatively impact how you feel about yourself. It may start affecting your work performance, relationships, and wellbeing. 

If you’re someone who deals with it regularly, I hope some of my tips help. Know that you're not the only one who struggles with it, and that there are things you can do to mitigate. It won't stop immediately, but over time they will help. 

A tool that may help improve your productivity, and therefore help to silence (or quiet) the voice inside your head is Llama Life; designed to help keep you calm and focussed whilst you get through your to-do list.  

If you’ve got some other tips of your own, please share. Let’s join forces and be our own biggest fans! 😘

A llama wearing sunglasses with text Llama Life is the most fun you'll have with your to-do list