Give Yourself More Credit (We Are Our Own Worst Critics)
Raise your hand if you beat yourself up for not accomplishing everything you want on a given day, week, etc. What if you’ve ever found yourself weighed down by self-doubt when faced with something you should be confident about? I don’t know about you, but I’ve got both hands way up! The truth is we are our own worst critics.
So, knowing that, what can you do to give yourself more credit? Learn to recognize when self-doubt or self-judgment is present and challenge yourself to look for the good you’ve done first.
Don’t get me wrong. There can be value in holding yourself to a high standard. People who do this are often successful and goal-oriented. On the flip side, you might often push yourself to the point of burn out, as well, focused too much on unrealistic expectations. It can be easy to become so focused on self-judgment that you get frozen in place, your success and goals stuck in limbo.
In this article, we’ll discuss how giving yourself more credit and focusing on small achievements can help you break out of the negative emotions associated with self-judgment and help you progress more rapidly toward your goals.
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What Does It Mean To Not Give Yourself More Credit?
This can be summed up briefly in words like self-judgment or self-doubt, with an added lack of self-empathy. You focus on what you haven’t done right or can’t do rather than the great things you’ve already done. In fact, it’s almost as if all the good things you’ve ever done never existed.
When you’re in this place of self-judgment and not giving yourself enough credit, your thoughts might read something like this:
- I should have gotten up early to work out. This is the third day I’ve missed this week. Obviously, I’m not doing well sticking to that goal.
- I told myself I’d take a lunch break every day. Now it’s the end of the week and I haven’t taken any. Another fail.
- I’ve been horrible about calling my family recently to check in. I’m an awful daughter.
- I can’t believe I gave in and had those cookies last night. Why don’t I have better self-control?
When we focus on self-judgment, whatever failure we’re focusing on becomes the end of the story. You’re a horrible daughter. Period. You’re never going to meet your goals. Period.
We all know that’s not the end of your story, but you need to recognize that too. By becoming your own cheerleader instead of your own worst critic, you can overcome these feelings of inadequacy and embrace the high performer you truly are.
Why Giving Yourself Credit Is Important
What the example thoughts above don’t account for is all the wonderful things you DID do or why you didn’t meet some of your goals. One great way to shift your thoughts is to analyze the reason for all the supposedly bad things you’ve done. For example:
- Did you workout any days this week? If so, you still took action towards your goal.
- Is your workout schedule new or recently updated? If so, it’s understandable that you’re still building that habit.
- Did you miss your workout goals for a reason, like you were exhausted or work got in the way? Maybe that’s an indicator that you simply need to tweak your schedule or just be kind to yourself if it WAS an unusually busy week.
- Did you miss taking your lunch breaks because you forgot to step away or because you got pulled into unexpected meetings? Maybe it was something else entirely? The reason gives you a clue as to how you might improve this as a next step.
Do you notice anything about the questions above? They’re probably the same questions you’d ask a friend or family member who was down on themselves. You’d tell them to give themselves a break, right?
But when it comes to judgment of ourselves, we tend to be dramatically less forgiving. And that’s the problem. Because when you focus on self-judgment then you can’t focus on potential solutions.
When we start to forgive ourselves and give ourselves credit, it expands our ability to find solutions and new ways of looking at things.
Why Is Self-Compassion So Hard?
So much of our self-judgment as adults is rooted in experiences we had in our childhood. That doesn’t have to mean that your parents or anyone in your life did anything wrong. Everyone in your life could have had all the best intentions and even been completely wonderful people.
But the reality is that we spend so much time in our formative years observing others and how they act around us. From each of those observations we form our own thoughts about what other people’s reactions must mean about us and the kind of person we are.
Whether those judgments we make are right or wrong, they become a part of our personality and shape how we view ourselves as we get older. That means that by the time we’re adults, we’ve spent a long time honing that self-judgment habit.
If you find yourself in a particularly deep bout of self-judgment, I recommend doing with a quick exercise to boost your self-confidence.
Make a list of all the things you’ve done right today or this week. No holding back! And you MUST count things that didn’t go as planned but did come with good intentions.
For example, maybe you set your alarm so you could do an early morning workout, but you didn’t work out. Setting the alarm still goes on the list because it’s still an action you took that’s a step further than not setting the alarm at all.
How Do I Start Being Kind To Myself?
The first step I recommend is to start paying attention to the times when your self-judgment rears its ugly head.
If you’ve never paid attention to this before, it can be helpful to keep pen and paper nearby or a note-taking app on your phone. That way, you can quickly make note of the feeling as it comes up and look back at it later when you have more time to examine it.
In your examination, try noting the physical sensations of your self-judgment or self-doubt. How does your breathing change? Do you hold your body more tensely, perhaps in your neck or shoulders? Do you feel any specific sensations in your chest or other parts of your body?
Once you’ve identified these sensations, you’ll be better able to recognize when your self-judgment is present.
Once you’ve got that down, comes the fun part! Each time your self-judgment or self-doubt flares up, challenge yourself to think of 3 things you do well or have done well related to the situation.
Fair warning, this may be difficult the first few times you do it.
All of this – recognizing your judgment and challenging yourself to look for what’s positive first, is counter to how your brain typically works. Our brains are wired to look for what’s negative first, so doing exercises like this is similar to how you build a physical muscle at the gym.
When you first start, this mental muscle will be weak, and the exercise will be difficult. But the more you do it, the stronger the habit will become, and the easier this will be. Before you know it, you’ll be able to catch your negative self-talk before it becomes persuasive, focus on all your great accomplishments, and shift into a more positive mindset.
Let Go Of Self-Judgment
One of the most important things to remember is that every day presents a new opportunity to hone your sense of accomplishment and give yourself more credit.
If you find yourself reading this article and you still feel overwhelmed, I recommend starting with the self-compassion exercise above. Taking just 5 or 10 minutes to focus on all the amazing things you have accomplished and done well today, or this week can prime your mind to do the longer work that’s needed to truly break this self-judgment cycle.
If you’re having a particularly difficult time completing this exercise, you might also try these tips for breaking out of a negative headspace.
And remember, all of this can be done at your own pace so take the time that makes sense for you. I promise you, it’ll be worth it at the end when you not only feel better and more confident but you’re getting more done and making true progress toward your goals.
Have questions or need additional support? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or click the Chat button in the bottom right corner to direct message me.
Until then, have a happy, kind, and judgment-free day!