Being Our Own Worst Enemy

self-criticalBeing self-critical is an epidemic in our society. It’s almost a national pastime to beat ourselves up over real and imagined imperfections. We became unwitting devotees watching our parents and teachers direct their anger towards us with their negative judgments and demeaning labels. In fact, they just needed to deal with their own emotions in constructive and appropriate ways. Being receptive little beings, we pledged allegiance to those unkind messages and also began to see ourselves as stupid, unlovable, or unworthy. Today we know the words by heart and repeat them to ourselves without even thinking.

The more critical our parents were the deeper the messages penetrated. Today, we rarely feel satisfied with ourselves. We try to measure up against an invisible standard or believe if we had or did something else – got married, earned more money, looked more beautiful, had more time – we’d finally be happy and feel worthy.

As we know, none of these strategies work. With these beliefs firmly implanted, we have a license to beat ourselves up in any possible situation. Our mistake is that we identify with our actions rather than our true essence.

To stop being self-critical and show yourself more love, you must learn that you are whole, complete, and worthy, no matter what. You must realize your essence of your being exists from the first day of your life until the day you die and doesn’t change.

According to Attitude Reconstruction the root of a bad attitude about yourself, such as never feeling “good enough,” is to express the underlying emotion, in this case sadness, and then to continually rewire your crummy thinking.

To change deeply rooted destructive thoughts, you first must identify and then determine what contradicts your old messages. Pick just a couple from the list below and write them down. Post them conspicuously where you will see them and repeat them often.

  • I’m doing the best I can.
  • I love myself unconditionally.
  • I’m not perfect, but I’m good enough.
  • There is nothing wrong with me.
  • I am whole and complete.

Make repeating your truths a daily practice. Remind yourself who you are several times a day for just a minute or two. You can do this in the shower, while driving in your car, exercising, doing chores, or before bed. Relentlessly repeat your new thoughts, especially when you’re judging yourself poorly or when you’re crying and feeling down. Interrupt the “yes, buts” and other discounting thoughts that surface and continue to repeat your new truths. I tell clients 100,000 repetitions should do the job, considering how many times you’ve chanted the opposite.

Another way to raise your self-esteem is to shower yourself with kindness in the form of self-appreciations. Name a specific positive trait, talent, or quality and look at yourself from this new perspective. Try writing one, two, or three self-appreciations each day, and at the end of a week, read your list out loud with enthusiasm, conviction, and a smile. In this way you are steadily rebuilding your self-esteem. 

See how wonderful you feel when you relentlessly focus on your good and fill your black hole of unworthiness yourself. Emphasizing your positive qualities and contradicting that internal critic will give you an unshakable positive view of yourself no matter what.


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