5 Steps to Stop Judging Yourself
By Elizabeth Carruthers, RN MSN CNOR CBN CHHC
There’s a saying that goes like this: When you disapprove of yourself, you begin to need the approval of others. For many of us, the tendency to judge ourselves seems normal. We have lived this way for so long that we may no longer become aware of it. We constantly put pressure on ourselves to do and say the right things.
The inner voice that constantly speaks to us has the power to change our feelings and actions in a split second, either derailing or supporting our goals and efforts. It is important to recognize and appropriately respond to that inner voice to keep your life moving forward instead of staying stuck where you are.
Your inner voice was created by your mind to help you thrive as a child, trying to help you please others around you so that you would be easily accepted by family and your social group. It simultaneously discourages individuals from acting in their own best interest and holds us back from going after what we truly want. These negative thoughts foster self-criticism, distrust, self-denial, addictions, and retreat from goal-directed activities.
What can you do to get the better of your inner critic?
First: start by listening to it to find out what form these “self-attacks” are taking. (For example, “You are ugly and overweight.” “No one wants to be around you.”)
Second: recognize where these voices came from. (“Wow, my aunt used to say that to me all the time.”)
Third: rationally answer your inner voice back. (“I am pretty. I’m healthy and I have a number of good friends who care about me.”)
Fourth: understand how the inner critic voice has affected your behavior in the past. (“The voice kept me from trying new exercise classes because I was afraid everyone would make fun of me.”)
Fifth: change your self-limiting behavior. (“I’m going into that new class and I will do my best. I will feel strong and healthy afterwards.”)
Let your inner voice have its say. Once you can pinpoint the negative thoughts and actions it is advocating, you can consciously take control of these harmful messages and positively change them. The more you act against the inner voice’s influence, the weaker its hold on your life will become. You will then feel more free to engage in those actions that bring satisfaction, joy, and meaning into your life.