Self-Criticism vs. Self-Improvement vs. Self-Acceptance
I decided to write about topics that come up frequently in sessions. A few clients have been struggling lately with self-criticism (aren't we all?). I find that it can be tough finding balance. When do we cross the line from self-improvement to self-criticism or the other way around? How are we expected to improve if we’re also told we should accept ourselves? How do we get to improve ourselves if we don’t first criticize ourselves? How can we accept ourselves while still improving? I think what's usually missing is self-evaluation. It’s important to understand that we can evaluate without being hard on ourselves. The desire for perfection is usually what leads to criticism (of ourselves or others). Acceptance of the fact that we are flawed humans and always learning and growing provides my clients with room for self-improvement, without the destructive nature of self-criticism. Self-acceptance does not mean there is no room for self-improvement. It means you are accepting yourself as a person who is continuously learning and growing. For some, this is easier than for others. For those who struggle a little more in this area, try to think back to your past...how were expectations handled in your childhood? What happened if you did not meet those expectations? Awareness of the underlying messages you received can help you understand that you may have internalized these beliefs during crucial years of development which then shaped how you view yourself. Pay attention to your inner dialogue. What are you telling yourself?
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or simply need an objective person to talk to, please reach out to me for a complimentary phone consultation. I would love to help and if I feel that another mental health professional would be a better fit, I will be glad to make recommendations.