Self-criticism at work – how to overcome the inner critic

Self criticism at work

In healthy doses, self-criticism can be a valuable tool for improvement. But too much self-criticism can be overwhelming and detrimental to our wellbeing. If you tend to be overly self-critical about your performance, accomplishments, or abilities in the workplace, then it might be time to step back and take a closer look. Learning how to manage self-criticism by developing a more compassionate attitude towards yourself, may be just what the doctor ordered.

Here are six tips for overcoming self-criticism at work.

1. Challenge negative self-talk.

“I did this wrong, I’m a failure, I made a mistake again, I should have, could have….and so on.” Does this sound familiar? Start challenging that negative self-talk and replace it with positive. If you’re hearing the same things over and over in your head, make a note of them and work out how to counter them. For example, instead of thinking “I’m not good enough,” try replacing with “I’m making progress and I’m learning. “Challenging the negative doesn’t have to be over the top – it’s simply about stepping back and looking at the situation with a positive lens.

2. Set realistic expectations.

We often set ourselves up to fail by taking on too much, setting our sights too high or simply expecting too much of ourselves. Then when we don’t feel like we’ve achieved our goals, we beat ourselves up. One way to counter this is to revisit our expectations and set more realistic goals. Breaking down these goals into smaller, achievable tasks can also be helpful as it’s easier to see progress. If this sounds familiar, then take some time to revise your goals and get real with yourself.

3. Be kind to yourself.

We tend to be harder on ourselves than others and as a result, we often feel like we just aren’t good enough. One way to overcome this is by looking at each situation and asking if we’d be this critical of a friend or colleague. You need to be your own friend and treat yourself with kindness. Imagine a colleague telling you they were a failure because they didn’t achieve something on a certain day. What would you say to them? It would be something positive and supportive – so extend that courtesy to yourself.

4. Practice self-care.

Self-care is equally important for overcoming self-criticism in the workplace. Go back to basics and look at your physical and mental health. Are you getting enough sleep? Eating properly? Exercising regularly? When we look after ourselves, we’re more likely to be positive and productive. Taking care of yourself can help you feel more resilient and better equipped to manage a loud inner critic.

5. Focus on your strengths.

All too often, we can become fixated on our weaknesses. Suddenly we’re all about our failures, mistakes, or shortcomings – and that can be a downward spiral. Instead of dwelling on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths and the things you do well. We can’t all be good at everything. Make a list of your accomplishments and strengths and stay focused on those.

6. Ask for help.

Whether it’s just at work or in your personal life, an overactive inner critic can be tricky to let go of. It may be that you need some objective feedback on your performance or progress to regain a healthy perspective – so ask others for their input. Your colleagues or manager are unlikely to be as critical about your work as you are.

Self-criticism can be a difficult pattern of thought to break, but by recognizing our self-critical thoughts, we can start to fight back. Reframing negative self-talk in a more positive light and practicing compassion for oneself can help change the narrative. When we stop being overly critical with ourselves, we become happier, healthier, and more likely to achieve our goals.



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