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  • Writer's pictureJo Fleisher

Why are we our own worst enemy ?

Do you sometimes find yourself having negative thoughts about yourself ?

Do you repeatedly put yourself down ?

Do you criticize yourself by comparing yourself to other people that you think are perfect ?

If you make a mistake do you tell yourself that it is the worst thing that could ever happen and that anyone could have done a better job at it ?

If you do, they you are like many other people, myself included. You are often your own worst enemy.


Depression and anxiety are often due to the self-critical voice that defeats us before we even get started. It robs you of any credit for anything you do. It make us afraid to try anything new because we are so afraid of failing.

I recently read an article in Psychology Today that gave some techniques to use to defeat these self-critical thoughts so that we can feel better about being a real person.

1. Identify your Negative thoughts:

Your negative thoughts about yourself may be so automatic that you don't even notice

them. Try to catch them, write them down and then see if there is a pattern,

For example, your say the following to yourself:

"I'm a failure. I'm so boring. Nothing I do works out. I can't do anything right. What a

up I am."

Start catching these arrows directed at you.

2. Define your terms:

Nor that you can see the disapproving comments you direct toward yourself. Let's see

if you can define the terms you are using.

For example:

How would you define failure ?

Is is someone who fails at something ?

What would the opposite be ?

Perhaps your might see that you succeed and fail at different times and at different things.

When you reduce yourself to these "all-or-nothing" terms, you label yourself in ways that

are unrealistic and inaccurate.

3. What is the evidence for and against your self-criticism ?

What is the evidence in favour of the "failure" ?

Perhaps you didn't do well on an exam, your date didn't go as planned, or you said

something you wish you hadn't said.


Now let's look at the evidence that you are NOT a failure....

Perhaps you have friends, you are doing well at work or school. You try to be a decent

person and you try to help others.

Weigh the evidence...for and against.

What do you come up with ?

4. 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 ?

5. Replace self-criticism with self-reward:

Try this for a week: rather than focus on what you didn't do perfectly, try to give

yourself credit for 5 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.

6. Do you really need to evaluate yourself ?:

Has it ever occurred to you that you don't really "need" to evaluate yourself ?

What if we removed that self-critical evaluating part of your brain for a day ?

Let's say, rather than evaluate yourself, you decided to focus on your specific

goals - like exercise, getting work done, and doing kind things for other people,


You can reach your goal without criticizing yourself - Try it !

7. Replace evaluation with observing and accepting:

Rather than measuring, comparing, and evaluating yourself, consider simply observing

yourself then accepting yourself.

Rather than measuring and criticizing yourself, you decide to observe what you are


Try to accept yourself as you are, as you continue to move forward 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 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.

Freeing yourself from the self-critic allows you to step away from depression and

anxiety and frees you from the burden that you have imposed on yourself.

You don't have to be your own worst enemy.

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