No matter where you are in life, self-criticism is something that most of us have. Many believe that self-criticism pushes you to perform better and to live up to higher standards. Unfortunately, that is wildly untrue. Research shows that self-criticism hurts our performance, productivity, as well as our well-being.
How Self-Criticism Holds You Back
- It keeps you focused on what’s wrong with you, thereby decreasing your confidence.
- It makes you afraid of failure, which hurts your performance, makes you give up more easily and leads to poor decision-making.
- It makes you less resilient in the face of failure and also less likely to learn from mistakes.
Develop Some Self-Compassion
As soft as the concept may sound, it’s supported by research by Kristin Neff, Ph.D., author of the book “Self-Compassion.” Self-compassion has been linked to a host of benefits. Self-compassion means treating yourself as you would a friend in times of failure or pain—with more understanding and kindness. It means being mindful of your emotions and thoughts without over-identifying with them. Self-compassion doesn’t mean being overly self-indulgent, but it also doesn’t involve beating yourself up to no avail.
How Self-Compassion Gives You an Edge
- It increases motivation and willpower.
- It brings you greater perspective and therefore better decision-making. It makes you more resilient: You more easily bounce back in the face of failure and learn from your mistakes.
- It makes you more emotionally intelligent and therefore improves your relationships.
- It lowers you stress levels and decreases feeling overwhelmed.
- It boosts your psychological well-being and decreases anxiety and depression.
- It even improves your health.
Bringing Self-Love into your Life
In times of failure or challenge, noticing your self-talk can help you curb self-criticism and replace it with self-compassion.
When your emotions are overwhelming, write a letter to yourself as if you were writing to a friend. It might feel stilted or strange at first, but a number of studies demonstrate that writing about your emotions can help regulate them.
Applying self-compassion can take some practice, but we promise you it will be worth it.