Self-criticism is an automatic thought (sometimes at an unconscious level) that creates negative feelings, which eventually leads to behaviors that cause major problems in my relationships. I became so good at criticizing ‘me’ that doing it to others was an easy habit to engage in. I have to stop and notice what I’m thinking on a regular basis, or my negative/automatic thoughts take over quickly (usually within 5 seconds or so).
Are you overly-critical of yourself? In case you need a reality check, here are 20 ways to know if you're constantly sabotaging yourself:
- At some level, you believe that you deserve negative situations (e.g., getting fired, having your lover leave you).
- Compliments are hard to take (because you don’t believe them); when someone compliments you, it usually sounds ridiculous.
- Nothing is good enough for you.
- There are few things you truly enjoy in life.
- You always second-guess yourself (e.g., "Did I do that right?”).
- You are fully aware of your own perceived flaws (and those of others).
- You are your own worst enemy.
- You complain a lot, and you often voice these thoughts and opinions to your friends and family.
- You focus a lot on what's going wrong – and minimize or over-look the things that are going right.
- You get the sense that some of your friends and family avoid you.
- You have a very low level of frustration-tolerance (i.e., little things really set you off).
- You have been accused of being a pessimist.
- You look at the world from a place of scarcity.
- You pick others apart.
- You pick yourself apart.
- You take life too seriously.
- You take others’ behavior too personally.
- You truly don’t trust yourself.
- You usually look for the worst in others and automatically expect that things won’t turn out the way you would like.
- Your relationships suffer from constant complaining and negativity.
As one young man with Asperger's stated, "On a scale of one to ten, when I beat up on myself at a level ten, I feel justified in beating up on others at a level eight or nine."
When I’m overly-critical of myself and others, I allow myself to operate in a negative mental environment. If you find yourself thinking a lot of these signs, start to change your “thought-habits.”
As soon as one of these signs pop in your head, quickly replace it – WITHIN 5 SECONDS – with a more positive thought (e.g., “There I go again. Beating up on myself. I’m my own worst enemy. It’s my responsibility to begin to love myself and come to believe that I am worthy of good things in life!).