There’s a big difference between self-critique and self-criticism. For one, it’s healthy to critique yourself regularly and analyze where you have room for growth. It’s unhealthy to be critical and focus heavily on negative thoughts about yourself. Instead of promoting improvement, self-criticism can diminish your confidence and stunt your growth. 

There are several ways to be kind to yourself while making the switch from criticism to critique. You can still be kind and analytical, without being harmful to your confidence.

Be Constructive

Three cranes operate in between a group of skyscrapers, with a partly cloudy and blue sky behind them.

By now, hopefully your confidence level is steady. But, is it unshakable? Rather than being a demolition expert and breaking down the sturdy confidence you’ve built up, you’re better off being constructive. Here are some great ways to end the self-criticism and begin building yourself back up!

Utilize your connections.

Instead of getting stuck in your own head about your mistakes or shortcomings, talk to people who have the abilities and characteristics that you want to learn. Ask them for feedback on your performance and their impressions of you.

Highlight your reality, not your negativity.

Don’t say to yourself, “I just bombed that meeting, there’s no way those people are going to work with me now.” That kind of exaggerated talk only puts you down and doesn’t lead to a solution. Try saying, “That meeting didn’t go as planned, but I know I can come back from it.”

Analyze your behavior.

Identify behaviors that you can change, not attributes beyond your control. Determine how those changes will result in a more desirable outcome. If you have loud roommates who keep you from focusing, find a new place to focus and work. If your dog keeps begging for your attention while you’re on a call, continue the call while taking your dog for a walk.

Recognize your effect.

Remember that everything you do has an impact on others. If you’re worried about something you’ve said or done, start focusing more on how your actions affect other people, not just yourself.

Change Your Thoughts

Fluffy white clouds in a blue sky cast shadows on green and rocky hillsides.

Self-criticism is harmful to not only your confidence, but your overall mental health, as well. Convincing yourself of all the things that you think are “wrong” with you, is not beneficial for your self-esteem. Focusing more on everything that is “right” with you is far better for your state of mind.  

When you find yourself thinking, “I don’t have what it takes to be as successful as that person,” stop that thought in its tracks. Rather than thinking you can’t do it, try thinking that you can do it, but you might need to learn some new skills first! If you try to reframe those negative thoughts whenever they arise, your brain will eventually start to develop more positive thoughts. You’ll soon find yourself thinking, “I can develop whatever skills and abilities it takes to reach that level of success!”

Another effective way to turn self-criticism into a self-critique is by giving yourself the advice that you’d give a close friend. You wouldn’t negatively criticize your best friend, right? You shouldn’t do that to yourself either. If you’ve done something that usually spirals you into negative self-talk, try pretending your friend is next to you. Imagine them saying harsh things to themselves and how you might stop them from doing so. Then, think about the advice you’d give them to help them feel better, but still find a way to improve. Now, give that same advice to yourself.

Stop telling yourself that you aren’t capable and start telling yourself that just because it’s not easy right now, doesn’t mean it never will be. Recognizing your weaknesses is only the first step. From there, you must work on improving them. Here are some healthy ways that you can turn your shortcomings into strengths.

As self-critical thoughts enter your head, practice pushing them out of your mind. Negative thinking, just like positive thinking, can be very infectious. You don’t want your negative thoughts to overpower your positive ones. You can also pretend the bad thoughts are clouds, floating in the sky, drifting away from you, and taking the shade with them.

Self-Criticism Won’t Help

In any case, being critical of oneself never helps the situation. So, while it may seem like your negative self-talk is motivating you to become better, it isn’t. It strengthens those feelings of doubt and stifles your confidence. When in doubt, be a friend to yourself. Switch your brain to self-love mode and start positively critiquing instead of being a harsh critic. You deserve the best! And since you can’t always guarantee getting the best from others, you can guarantee giving it to yourself in the form of a self-critique.

If you’re trying to improve your ability to self-critique, it can be helpful to find a mentor who will guide you through the process. However, make sure you find a role model that is right for you. Here are some factors to consider during your mentor search.