How To Overcome: Self Criticism

(A Woman’s Guide To Reclaiming Wholeness After Sexual Abuse)

Blog and Podcast Show notes

By Simone N


For a more in depth discussion, check out the podcast episode for this blog, to listen.

Episode #18

Do you pick on yourself? where did you get that habit from?

What good does it do for you?

How is it harmful, and what can be done about it?


Self criticism, I believe is one of the most, if not the most damaging things we can do to ourselves, mentally and emotionally.

Many times, it is something that is so ingrained and normal to us, that we don’t notice that we are doing it. However, just beacuse we are not aware, does not  mean that it is not affecting us, and our lives negatively.

I would consider it an inner abuse/sabotage on the  highest level; we “pick” on ourselves until we pick ourselves apart. It is an expression of shame, guilt, feelings of inferority, insecurity/inadequecy, and self hate (some of this spoken of in last articles).

Criticisms, in this context, is to express disapproval through fault-finding (focusing on the perceived or true negatives about self), placing blame, judgement (label ourselves in conclusion, disrespectful/degrading names, negative words). To judge oneself  (in my own words), is to make an absolute conclusion about yourself. Many of the times these conclusions are untrue, and negative. Just remember whatever is said to yourself is going to affect you, whether positive or negatively, as your feelings are connected to your thoughts.

For example if you are expressing disapproval toward yourself, will cause you to feel a certain way about yourself afterwards, can you guess how? If you say “ I’m such a loser,” “I  suck,” “I’m stupid/ugly/worthless” (all judgments),” I can never do anything right,”  “My ears are too big,”” I’m so sensitive,” “I’m too light/dark” (all fault finding, criticisms),” It’s all my fault,” “I’m the reason so-and-so…..,”(placing blame, guilt complex). After saying  these things to ourselves how do you think you will feel? More ashamed, inferior, wrong, not enough, guilty, and awful in excess.  It will have a damaging impact; as we are unknowingly repeating the cycle within ourselves, done by another.You heard these words, criticisms, judgments somewhere; someone projected  these thoughts/ideas/beliefs about you, or you could have received these messages unconsciously (relayed covertly, what was insinuated, or not said), through traumatic experiences. If we were told these things (especially repeatedly), it created a pattern of thought in your mind; a belief about yourself, and became ingrained, and internalized. In some cases, it became safer to attack ourselves, rather than to suffer the unpredictability of someone else doing it (the ego). It was a way for our minds to regain control, and power. Sometimes we criticized ourselves to “improve” ourselves, to “fix” so we wouldn’t experience other criticizing us for that thing, and feeling the pain because of it. Other times, we came to a judgement about ourselves, because of how we were treated. If you experience a form of abuse, and knew it was wrong, and felt wrong about it, you may have concluded within yourself the you were wrong as well.

The reason why it is do damaging to us, sabotaging ourselves this way, is it makes ourselves our worst enemy; we should be be our own best friend, a safe place of unconditional love, peace and comfort. We don’t stand a chance against ourselves when we attack ourselves.

We can manifest this behavior in a few ways; berating (to criticize in an angry hostile manner, to scold, yell, etc.),  in a calm, cool manner (but is still damaging, because it is the words that matter), and even done in a joking manner. To “make fun”  of yourself may be a good time or laugh with friends and family, but you are further eroding your self esteem by these comments. I believe to make jokes about yourself in this manner, tells of the personal “truth”(something you believe) abut yourself, and thus reinforce those beliefs.

Now that we got that out of the way, what can be done to stop these damaging behaviors? When dealing with criticisms/judgement, firstly, ask yourself if you heard them before (from someone else), how many times, and if they are true. Once again, I will put it out there that the majority of what we heard about ourselves are lies/misinformation, and ignorance, whether it was done maliciously or unconsciously. If you determine that they are lies, the next step is to reverse them. If they are true, take the lesson they bring, and apply it (improve the weakness/liability), but don’t continue punishing yourself with it (berating, dwelling on it). Use positive affirmations for criticisms (negative beliefs about self, names, faults/weaknesses) all damaging toxic emotions. Positive affirmations reverse negative words/labels, internalized beliefs, affirm and expand the good; create new beliefs/thoughts/ideas about self and life. For an example, instead of saying “I’m a failure/loser” say “I am successful” or “I was born to win”. It doesn’t matter if you believe it, keep at it and will become a belief in the same manner an internalized belief develops from something untrue/damaging. To replace everything damaging, untrue, unhealthy, unproductive with uplifting, true and positive statements it takes practice and patience.

A very important  to mention to reversing emotional abuse/sabotage is forgiveness. Forgiveness of self, especially towards others and life.  To forgive means to give up, or stop feeling anger, blame, guilt, shame, resentment, and more, as a result of the past, (perceived) mistakes, or actions. If you are in the bondage of guilt and shame,  forgiveness is so beneficial to release you of the toxic effects. You can use positive affirmations in this healing process. writing in a journal , meditation, therapy can give you a different angle that can help you along. If you are holding rage, it is a must to forgive those who have done something to you (could be perceived as well), because if you do not, they have the power over you; your happiness/emotions/life. Forgiveness will clear your energies, and be replenished with more positive, uplifting ones, and as a result, a better life.

If you are someone to criticize yourself, it is OK to acknowledge this, as many of us are struggling with same thing. It has become a habit, that which was learned from others. Aside from that, however, it is counterproductive; it not at all self improving, and it obstructs our ultimate goal of self healing, recovery and improvement. So learn to kick the habit.

Check out he next article: How To Overcome Fear: Projection