Some people are naturally inclined to be tough on themselves. They mistakenly believe that critical statements will motivate them to work harder and get results faster. Common refrains include:
“I am so weak and have no self-discipline.”
“I am just lazy and can’t bring myself to start exercising.”
“I don’t deserve to feel good because I’ll never be able to lose this weight.”
For most people, this type of self-criticism is generally ineffective because it can reinforce feelings of inadequacy and erode self-confidence. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do help yourself tame this inner critics.
Unravel your inner critics.
A key goal of this approach is to identify and challenge unhelpful assumptions. When you think or declare yourself to be weak or lazy, take a moment to examine the validity of this statement. Is it a fact or an opinion? Just because you see yourself a certain way, doesn’t mean it is true. Then rewrite the script by creating more helpful responses to life’s setbacks. Instead of saying “I am bad for eating that cake,” say, “Of course I am not a bad person. I just made one unhelpful choice and now I can get back on track.”
Self-compassion is an antidote to self-criticism.
Self-criticism can become a reflexive habit, and many people do not even notice how often they engage in it. Ask yourself, “How helpful is it to speak so harshly to yourself? Would you speak this way to a dear friend?” Speak to yourself differently. For example, “I am having a tough time with this, but it is normal for people to struggle in this way. I may accept myself and be patient and strong.” When you can respond to challenges with care and acceptance, you have more energy and motivation to address behavior change.
People are often hard on themselves as they work on getting healthier. Unfortunately, a harsh inner critic can interfere with motivation and make the work of health behavior change more difficult. You play the first role in quieting this demeaning voice. You should deal with yourself with more kindness and acceptance.