Self criticism and how to tackle it

Most of us have that inner voice that is our inner critic. This inner voice can sometimes be the voice that drives us but when it becomes excessive and consistent it can become quite harmful and have a permanent effect on our self-esteem.

For example, it may start as “this isn’t my best work and I can do better” but when it escalates to “I can’t do anything right I’m useless so why even try” this is a classic example of negative self-talk, and it can bring us down.

The statements related to self-criticism can sometimes sound like those used by a critical parent or friend from your past. It can lead to negative thought patterns about self and the world around which can be seen in the form of catastrophization of situations wherein we always believe the worst possible scenario is the only possible outcome every time.

Some causes of negative self-talk can have their roots in difficult experiences with caregivers in childhood. Authoritarian parenting styles wherein parents tend to helicopter parent a child and don’t leave any room for the child to make mistakes and learn life lessons can be one of the reasons that a child can grow up to be indecisive and unsure of their abilities and strengths. The more controlling the parents the higher chances are that a child would have negative self-perceptions and a low sense of self-worth. When a child feels rejected by their parent they are likely to become critical of their real self.

Another root cause of self-criticism can also be over-critical parenting. When critiquing a child a parent may criticize their whole persona instead of just critiquing a particular maladaptive behavior and this leads a child to believe that they have nothing good to offer in any aspect of their life and they always keep striving for perfection and setting up extremely difficult goals for themselves and always feeling bad when they fall short.

However, the good news is that once we identify these maladaptive patterns and thoughts we take a step in the direction of self-healing. Some effective ways to limit self-critical talk are;

Notice when you are being self-critical 

Remember that the negative thoughts about self aren’t always accurate 

Give your inner critic a goofy name and make it less threatening for yourself 

Make sure that you criticize certain aspects of maladaptive behaviour and not the entire persona 

Dispute the inner critic by giving evidence for and against the negative thought 

Change your perspective and look at the facts of the situation and if your interpretation is an exaggeration of the situation

Check yourself whenever you notice self-critical talk

Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.


MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.

About the Author.

Sakshi Kaushal is a psychologist at You can learn more about her by clicking here

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the Founders, or management team.

Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.


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