How to Overcome Being Your Worst Enemy
Do you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts about yourself, being critical of yourself, repeatedly putting yourself down, criticizing yourself, or comparing yourself to other people? What do you say to yourself when you make a mistake? So many people are their own worst enemy.
The self-critical voice can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression, that defeats you before you start, and makes you afraid of trying anything because you of your fear and the regret that will follow. In this post, there are techniques to defeat this self-critical voice, so that you can feel better about being a real human being. Do you ever say the following to yourself?
• I should succeed at everything I try.
• If I don’t succeed then I am a failure.
• Nothing I do works out.
• It’s terrible to fail at something.
• I am useless, unlovable, a failure, a bore, etc.
• The only way I can accept myself is if I do the best.
• It’s all my fault.
• No one else screws up like I do.
• I need to evaluate myself all the time. This is the only way to keep myself from being lazy.
Techniques to Overcome the Self-Critical Voice:1
• Identify your negative thoughts.
Your negative thoughts about yourself may be so automatic that you don't even
notice them. But try to catch them, write them down, and then see if there is a
• What is the evidence for and against your self-criticism?
What is the evidence in favor of the label "failure"? Perhaps you didn’t do well on
the exam, your date didn’t go well, or you said something you wished you hadn’t
say. OK. Now let’s look at the evidence that you are not a failure. Weigh the
evidence for and against. What do you conclude?
• What is the advantage of criticizing yourself?
Some people think that they need to criticize themselves to self-motivate. If self-
criticism worked, then people who get things done would hate themselves. Is your
self-criticism really helping you achieve your goals? Or is it defeating you?
• Replace self-criticism with self-reward.
Try this for a week: Rather than focus on what you don’t do perfectly, try to give
yourself credit for five things every day. This could include simple things like
going to work, speaking kindly to someone, eating healthy foods, or making an
effort to treat yourself better. If you make some effort at your work or exercise, try
giving yourself credit for it — even just for making the effort. The more you
reward yourself, the more likely you are to move forward.
• Replace evaluation with observing and accepting.
Rather than measuring, comparing, and evaluating yourself, consider simply
observing yourself and then accepting yourself. Take exercise: Let’s imagine that
your exercise for the day is to take a walk for 40 minutes. Rather than measuring
and criticizing yourself, you decide to observe what you are doing. Try to accept
yourself as you are, as you continue to move toward your goal. Accepting yourself
means that you see yourself realistically, in the present moment, without judgment.
You can free yourself from the self-critic by accepting who you are and saying, “I
know I am not perfect, just like everyone I know, but I can accept that. I can accept
my mistakes; I can accept my frustration; and I can accept that I have unfinished
work to do. I have goals. I accept that.”
• Focus on Positive Affirmations Daily
Try to write three positive affirmations daily, preferably in the morning to set you day
in the right direction, and anytime you find yourself in negative thoughts, open up your
journal and read those affirmations. Also at the end of the day, write in your affirmation
journal, at least one thing you can work on from the day and at least two things that went
right or were positive for the day. Starting your day off and ending your day with these
positive affirmations can get your mindset changing.
• Leahy, Robert, PhD. Are You Your Own Worst Enemy, Part 1: How to defeat self-criticism, Psychology Today Retrieved on October 29, 2017 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anxiety-files/201710/are-you-your-own-worst-enemy