Getting Rid of the Self-Critical Albatross That's On Your Back

Getting Rid of the Self-Critical Albatross That's On Your Back
Image by Thanasis Papazacharias

Are you considering buying pajama jeans because you weigh more than the folks in magazines or on television? Do you park your Camry a block away because all your friends drive BMWs? Got a barrage of brutal self-talk to ready-aim-fire every time you interview for a new job or go on yet another date?

Being too self-critical is rampant in our society. It's almost a national pastime to beat ourselves up over real and imagined imperfections. We became unwitting devotees watching and listening to our parents, teachers, and peers direct their anger towards us with negative judgments and demeaning labels, instead of channeling their own emotions in appropriate ways.  

Besides crushing our self-esteem, we now have data that confirms that bullying affects children in later stages of their lives. In a large study of 7771 children who were exposed to bullying at the age of seven to eleven, were then followed up until age 50 in England, Scotland, and Wales. The study found that participants who were bullied were at an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts. As well they were more likely to have poorer physical and psychological health, and cognitive functioning.    Read the full article. 

Being receptive little students, we pledged allegiance to those unkind messages and internalized commitments to keep them alive. Today we know the words by heart and speak them inside without even thinking.

We rarely feel satisfied with ourselves, trying to measure up against an invisible standard or believing 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.

Whenever we criticize ourselves, we compound the issue. We turn one problem into two - there's the social blunder, a poor financial decision or disapproving glance in the mirror - and the demeaning self-loathing that follows.

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 you are perfect just the way you are, from the first day of your life until the day you die.

Five Effective Ways to Stop Being Self-Critical

According to Attitude Reconstruction the root of being self-deprecating - such as never feeling or being "enough" - is to express the underlying sadness, ongoing anger, and incapacitating fear in a physical and constructive way, and rewire your crummy thinking.

Are you more than ready to silence the tyrant? Then try these strategies to stop being self-critical when you feel like you make a mistake so you can show yourself more love.

  1. Especially when you're crying, but also when you feel angry or scared, vigilantly interrupt the less than kind things you tell yourself and stick with telling yourself, "It's okay. I'm just feeling my emotions.
  1. To rewire your trash talk, write down the most common things you say to yourself, such as "I'm so stupid." "I blew it again." "I'm such a bad person." "I'm unlovable."
  1. Determine what contradicts your old messages and write them down on a card or paper. Change the sentiment to something more positive, such as "I'm doing the best I can. / I did the best I could." I'm fine and I'm doing fine." Or "Life is for learning. We all make mistakes." Or  "If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently." Put them on a 3×5 card and carry them in your pocket, daytimer, dashboard of your car, or on your smartphone.
  1. Relentlessly repeat your new thoughts, especially when you're judging yourself poorly or when you're crying and feeling down. Repeat them ten, twenty, thirty times! It doesn't matter if you believe it or not. Just repeat them. Interrupt all the "yes, buts" and other discounting thoughts that surface and continue to repeat your new truths.
  1. Shower yourself with kindness in the form of self-appreciations. Compliment your own abilities, characteristics, qualities, and efforts. It's not boasting or bragging. It's looking on the bright side.

To practice, 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 list out loud with enthusiasm, conviction, and a smile.

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

If this feels totally weird and you can't come up with a single self-appreciation, start with something small. Name a specific positive trait, talent, or quality and look at yourself from this new perspective. Try something like:

* I have a good sense of humor.

* I'm a dependable friend.

* I take good care of my cat.

* I like to do nice things for others.

Forgive Yourself

When we're out of balance and make a mistake, it's easy to start feeling bad about ourselves. Our minds start to continually replay what we did that we regretted and produce an icky, creepy feeling inside. When this happens, there are a couple of things to do:

  1. Shiver when you think about it, and say "I forgive myself."
  1. Interrupt sinking in thoughts about what you did. Don't keep ruminating about what happened. Firmly but lovingly interrupt the chatter and forcefully tell yourself (at least eleven times) "I forgive myself." Or remember "We all make mistakes." Or that "This feeling will pass. This situation is temporary." Or "To err is human."
  1. Express any sadness, anger, or fear physically and constructively when you start to think about the "terrible" thing you did or said. Pound a pillow, stomp around, or have a cry. Shiver some more.
  1. When you get a bit of distance, look within and determine whether there is anything you need to do or say to rectify the situation or if you need to just let it go. If you need to say or do something, get clear on what it is, and then just do it.
  1. Sometimes there is nothing. In that case, look for the lesson learned, and know that we all make mistakes and we're still whole and complete. Your mantra: "I forgive myself. We all make mistakes."

The Benefits Doing the "Work"  

Beating yourself up for not living up to impossible standards is a dead-end road that leads to no-where land. See how wonderful you feel when you relentlessly focus on the good. Emphasizing your positive qualities and contradicting that internal critic will definitely improve your attitude about yourself. 

Starting today, turn your self-criticism into self-appreciation. You'll feel the difference immediately and hear a new pledge of allegiance to the united states of Joy, Love, and Peace!

Check out this video about how Christy overcame self-criticism and perfectionism:

©2020 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.

For more info and/or to order this book, click here.

About the Author

Jude BijouJude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at

Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace

Related Video

More Articles By This Author

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration




Lunar eclipse, May 12, 2022
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 23 - 29, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
05 21 rewilding the imagination in dangerous times 5362430 1920
Rewilding the Imagination in Dangerous Times
by Natureza Gabriel Kram
In a world that often seems intent on destroying itself, I find myself curating beauty -- the kind…
group of multi-racial individuals standing for a group photo
Seven Ways You Can Show Respect to Your Diverse Team (Video)
by Kelly McDonald
Respect is profoundly meaningful, but costs nothing to give. Here are ways you can demonstrate (and…
elephant walking in front of a setting sun
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 16 - 22, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
photo of Leo Buscaglia from cover of his book: Living, Loving and Learning
How to Change Someone's Life in a Few Seconds
by Joyce Vissell
My life was changed dramatically when someone took that second to point out my beauty.
a composite photograph of a total lunar eclipse
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 9 - 15, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
05 08 developing compassionate thinking 2593344 completed
Developing Compassionate Thinking Towards Self and Others
by Marie T. Russell,
When people speak of compassion, they mostly are referring to having compassion for others... for…
a man writing a letter
Writing the Truth and Allowing the Emotions to Flow
by Barbara Berger
Writing things down is a good way to practice truth telling.
The Old Story Is Breaking Down As Our Dormant Humanity Awakens
The Old Story Is Breaking Down and Our Dormant Humanity Is Awakening
by Charles Eisenstein
Do you look toward the future with a mixture of dread, yes, but also a kind of positive…
Choosing to Feel Safe and Choosing to Love
Choosing to Feel Safe and Choosing to Love
by Eileen Caddy MBE and David Earl Platts, PhD.
We have found the primary reason most of us do not make the choice to love more freely and fully is…
3 Roots of Overwhelm, Burnout, and Self-Sacrifice
3 Roots of Overwhelm, Burnout, and Self-Sacrifice
by Christine Arylo
What follows are three of the root causes at the core of the burnout cycles, self-sacrificing…


eyes predict health 4 9
What Your Eyes Reveal About Your Health
by Barbara Pierscionek, Anglia Ruskin University
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a smartphone app that can…
rebuilding environment 4 14
How Native Birds Are Returning To New Zealand’s Restored Urban Forests
by Elizabeth Elliot Noe, Lincoln University et al
Urbanisation, and the destruction of habitat it entails, is a major threat to native bird…
The Story Of Suffering And Death Behind Ireland’s Abortion Ban And Subsequent Legalization
The Story Of Suffering And Death Behind Ireland’s Abortion Ban And Subsequent Legalization
by Gretchen E. Ely, University of Tennessee
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the…
how much sleep you need 4 7
How Much Sleep You Really Need
by Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian, University of Cambridge, et al
Most of us struggle to think well after a poor night’s sleep – feeling foggy and failing to perform…
benefits of lemmon water 4 14
Will Lemon Water Detox Or Energize You?
by Evangeline Mantzioris, University of South Australia
If you believe anecdotes online, drinking lukewarm water with a splash of lemon juice is…
trusting societies are happy 4 14
Why Trusting Societies Are Overall Happier
by enjamin Radcliff, University of Notre Dame
Human beings are social animals. This means, almost as a matter of logical necessity, that humans’…
economy 4 14
5 Things That Economists Know, But Sound Wrong To Most Other People
by Renaud Foucart, Lancaster University
A curious thing about our profession is that when we academic economists largely agree with each…
learning to pay attention 4 14
These Strategies And Life Hacks Can Help Anyone With Attention Problems
by Rob Rosenthal, University of Colorado
Because of the steady stream of negative feedback people receive about their productivity,…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities | | | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.