How to Kick Self-Criticism to the Curb

How to Kick Self-Criticism to the Curb

Of all the things that make parenting challenging, the perpetual self-criticism is the worst. We lose sight of the fact that the most important thing our kids need from us is to feel loved.

We spend a lot of time beating ourselves up for not being “perfect” parents. Take the time my 17 year old son texted me a picture of himself being embraced by another mom after winning the championship wrestling match at the regional tournament. Through a miscommunication, my husband and I both left the match early. I awarded myself “Worst Mother Ever” for that one.

We unknowingly teach self-criticism – because this is how we talk to ourselves.

I’m replacing self-criticism with self-compassion, and making sure my kids hear the message.

You may think, “Sounds lovely. I can’t be trusted though. If I’m not tough on myself, I won’t change (get it done, do my best, etc.).” We fear that if we weren’t constantly berating ourselves, we’d be complete slackers. (Cue your favorite fantasy of irresponsible motherhood here).

Self-Criticism Hurts
I think of self-criticism like the bigger of two siblings, pummeling the other on the living room floor. Self-criticism regularly tries to take me down, landing a few good punches by the time I realize what’s going on and shut it down.

Why Do We Do This To Ourselves?!

This meaner version of ourselves has good intentions:

  • Keep us safe
  • Protect us from making mistakes
  • Make sure we retain our status and get enough love
  • Avoid disapproval from others

Unfortunately, the toxic methods of self-criticism – shame, name-calling, constant comparison, devaluing our needs and accomplishments – bring out the worst in us.

Research by Drs. Kristin Neff, Ricks Warren and Elke Smeets found self-critical people are more prone to avoidance, fearfulness, feelings of inferiority, depression, procrastination, and body dissatisfaction.

The Truth About Self-Compassion
We fear we’ll become self-indulgent sloths if we practice self-compassion. The opposite is true. Self-compassionate people are:

  • More successful in pursuing goals
  • More resilient when goals aren’t met
  • More motivated to change, try harder and avoid repeating mistakes

Change requires desire, awareness, and a plan. Self-compassion takes practice. Ask a trusted friend to point out when you use self-criticism.

4 Ways to Foster Self-Compassion
1. Notice when you slip into self-criticism
2. Stop!
3. Speak to yourself the way you would to a dear friend
4. Make a plan to deal with your concerns

When we think of people who make us feel loved and give us courage, compassion is what we’re most drawn to. Think of Jesus responding to the woman caught in adultery.

Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” – John 8: 10, 11 (The Message)


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Warren, R., Smeets, E. & Neff, K. D. (2016). Self-criticism and self-compassion: Risk
and resilience for psychopathology. Current Psychiatry, 15(12), 18-32.

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Kimberly Gonsalves is a life and leadership coach, speaker and co-creator of Solving The Mystery of Parenting Teens. She encourages and equips women to thrive by letting go of what doesn’t work and instead build healthier habits and more respectful relationships, so they can bring their best to their most important leadership roles, and have more fun doing it. Read her in-depth series on self compassion, or connect with her on Facebook.

How To Get Unstuck When You’re Paralyzed By Mind Clutter

How To Get Unstuck When You’re Paralyzed By Mind Clutter

You are precious and honored in my sight, and… I love you. (Isaiah 43:4, NIV)

All it takes is an instant for me to forget my royal identity and start labeling myself with lies. Like the time I froze up over a spatula while hosting a baby shower. I’d opened the doors of our tiny rental house, keenly aware of the four-foot scrape on the linoleum floor, and other dings and dents left by previous tenants. The pressure of playing hostess to a bunch of southern belles who knew how to act at a baby shower (way better than I did) was stifling. That’s when it happened. Someone asked for my cake server. Knowing I didn’t have one in the wedding-gift stash, I rummaged around in the junk drawer for an alternative. When I finally produced a semi-melted, black plastic spatula, I saw what looked like disdain as the other ladies scrutinized it.

And that’s when I froze. My spirit crushed as I accessed my most painful memories of being bullied in junior high school. In an instant, I was that sixth grade girl, fearful, weak, a nobody. I harshly labeled myself:

“You don’t fit in.”

You can’t do anything right.

“You’re unacceptable.”

How God Sees Me

Elijah knew his unique identity in the Lord. But he also knew labels. A prophet of God, he had a special message. One filled with heart for God’s people. And yet, King Ahab, with all his royal clout, labeled Elijah in 1 Kings 18:17: “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” Ouch.

I love how Elijah dealt with this, and the general dejection of running for his life:

  1. He took care of business – divine business. Read the story of Elijah praying for fire down from heaven in 1 Kings 18:21-39. It’s awesome.
  2. He got alone and took his heart to God. “I have had enough, LORD.” (1 Kings 19:4)

And what did God do? He provided for his needs. He fed him bread for the journey ahead.

So what can I learn from Elijah, who was human, just like I am? (James 5:17)

  • When I feel unloved, I take my hurts to God. He holds my hand and collects my tears in a bottle. (Isaiah 42:6, Psalm 56:8)
  • When I feel like nobody, I remember that I am precious and honored in God’s sight. (Isaiah 43:4)
  • When I feel like I don’t fit in, I remember He has not rejected me. (Isaiah 41:9, 10)

Friend, take your hurts to God. He’ll give you bread, sustenance, for the journey.

One Small Step

What lies are your inner bullies telling you? Are you listening to and affirming them?

Prayerfully write down who you are in God. Post on your bathroom mirror, your phone background, and above your kitchen sink. Let these beautiful truths sink in as they become louder than the mind clutter bullies.

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Kelli Pavlovec draws from her experience as a work from home mom to help smart moms get unstuck and find their best self at www.twohourmom.com. For a free worksheet on 7 Ways to Pursue Your Life Dreams, Even While You’re a Mom, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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