Breaking the Cycle of Self-Criticism: Why Self-Compassion is the First Step to Recovery
Do you ever find yourself caught in a vicious cycle of self-criticism? Do you beat yourself up over the smallest mistakes, and find it hard to move on? It’s a common experience, especially for millennial women who are often pressured to achieve perfection in every area of their lives. But the truth is, the cycle of self-criticism can be damaging to your mental health and well-being.
Self-criticism is when you judge yourself harshly for your mistakes or perceived flaws. It’s a way of talking to yourself that can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem, and it can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and depression. The problem is that when you criticize yourself, you create a negative feedback loop that reinforces your negative beliefs about yourself. This cycle can be hard to break, but the first step is to practice self-compassion.
Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a good friend. It involves recognizing that everyone makes mistakes, and that your flaws and imperfections are a natural part of being human. When you practice self-compassion, you learn to be more accepting of yourself, and you develop a greater sense of self-worth.
Here are some tips for breaking the cycle of self-criticism and cultivating self-compassion:
Notice your self-talk: Start paying attention to the way you talk to yourself. Are you kind and supportive, or harsh and critical? Try to notice when you’re being self-critical, and pause to acknowledge your feelings without judgment.
Challenge your negative beliefs: When you notice negative self-talk, challenge the beliefs that are driving it. Ask yourself if they are true, and if there is any evidence to support them. Often, our negative beliefs are based on faulty assumptions and are not rooted in reality.
Practice self-compassion: When you notice self-criticism, practice self-compassion instead. Imagine that you are talking to a friend who is going through a similar situation. What would you say to her? Use that same kind and supportive language with yourself.
Forgive yourself: Remember that everyone makes mistakes, and that it’s okay to mess up sometimes. Instead of dwelling on your mistakes, forgive yourself and focus on what you can do to improve.
Breaking the cycle of self-criticism and practicing self-compassion takes time and effort, but it’s worth it for your mental health and well-being. By treating yourself with kindness and understanding, you can break free from the negative feedback loop of self-criticism and begin to embrace your authentic self.
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about empowering women to take control of their mental health by finding balance and inner peace in the midst of perfectionism and anxiety. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a concentration in Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice focused on helping high-achieving, goal-oriented women. She currently serves women in California and Oregon (CA LCSW# 66634 and OR# L13328).