Self-criticism: How do I know when self-criticism is positive or negative?
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
It is common for people to constantly evaluate the actions they have taken. It is positive to evaluate ourselves and analyze which aspects we must work on to improve, but it can be negative when this self-evaluation process is focused on making ourselves feel bad.
What is Self-criticism?
Self-criticism is the process where we evaluate ourselves around our behaviors. Through self-criticism, we can get to know ourselves better, known in which aspects act correctly and in which ones we have failed and must improve. The above are positive actions and are included in positive self-criticism.
There is also when we destructively criticize ourselves. The focus is on pointing out only the negatives and this becomes paralyzing. In this case we are hard on ourselves and have difficulty moving forward. This type of self-criticism is negative and can have a very damaging impact on our mental health.
It's helpful for us to learn how to distinguish between healthy or positive self-criticism, and harmful self-criticism so that we can begin to work on how to evaluate ourselves and move forward.
How does self-criticism affect you?
Self-criticism can affect us in two ways: positive or negative. A negative self-criticism is because we only focus on the weaknesses and the faults that we have. All human beings have flaws but emphasizing these as harmful aspects places us in a negative self-criticism.
When we struggle with negative self-criticism, we ae not only having problems with ourselves, also with others around us. Sometimes we can blame others for actions that are our responsibility, there are also times when we assume that everything is our fault and we begin to question ourselves in a way where we doubt our potential and the things we do.
When self-criticism is positive, it can be used as a tool for personal growth and development. In this type of self-criticism, we value our virtues and defects, and our mistakes are seen as learning opportunities. In general, doing positive self-criticism can be part of our growth and integral development.
What are the advantages of self-criticism?
Self-criticism is going to be a tool with many advantages if we decide to see it that way. At the same time, this can be a weapon that can destroy our self-concept and self-esteem.
People can often develop a fear of being tested. You just must remember those moments when taking an exam, think about whether there is mastery of knowledge, and discover the result: a good or bad grade. The above is like self-criticism, when viewed from a negative perspective it can generate fear, but when it is assumed as something that contributes to the growth of the individual, it can be better appreciated.
When self-criticism is seen as an advantage, we obtain benefits such as:
Can analyze how conducts ourselves in life. How words and actions can affect who we are and the people around us.
Learn more about ourselves. We become aware of our virtues and flaws, which allows us to develop healthy self-esteem.
Develop the ability to recognize mistakes and change. Being aware of the mistakes that are made is the door to wisdom and positive change.
How to handle self-criticism?
For self-criticism to be carried out in a way that positively impacts our lives, it is necessary to consider some aspects. The first is to see self-criticism as something useful, that the intention is not to feel bad about what we can discover about ourselves, but rather it is an opportunity to get to know ourselves and see which aspects to improve.
During the process of self-criticism, the guilt must be handled. When we don’t reach the objectives set, when we feel that something did not turn out the way we wanted and we put our flaws above and minimizes our virtues, we are facing negative self-criticism.
Other ways to handle self-criticism are be more gentle with yourself, try to see each situation from a realistic and not always negative level, and accept mistakes as part of human nature.
Some people have great difficulty managing self-criticism and may reach a point where the individual's mental health may be affected, and they cannot get out of it. In this case, psychological support can be of significant help in managing destructive self-criticism. At The Wise Self Psychotherapy Clinic, we have a qualified group of professionals, oriented to help you manage the symptoms that negative self-criticism brings and how to get ahead.