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How to Transform Self-Criticism Into Self-Appreciation

Posted by on September 12, 2015 in Conscious Living, Happiness & Humor, Thrive with 10 Comments

Jessica Blanchard | Tiny Buddha

self-love-i-love me

“Stop hating yourself for everything you aren’t. Start loving yourself for everything that you are.” ~Unknown

They stop you dead in your tracks.

Critical thoughts.

Like tiny knives, they slash at your happiness.

In public, you feign confidence. You can easily squish down your critical thoughts. You push yourself to smile, laugh, and even be the life of the party.

But when the dust settles, and you are all alone, the thoughts start, first as a trickle: “I shouldn’t have said that. Why couldn’t I say smarter things?” And then they start to crash harder and stronger with, “I am so stupid. I can’t believe at this age I’m not more confident.”

Do you sometimes feel like you’re drowning in a sea of similar critical thoughts?

I know how embarrassing and terrible that feels.

When I teach yoga, I try to help people—to open their bodies, notice their thoughts, and release their limitations. Yet, at times I drown in self-criticism and feel like a fraud.

Sure, you see my serene face, but a storm of critical thoughts often brews behind my smile. I feel like an imposter because I’m not as serene as I appear.

Recently, something completely changed my perspective: scientists discovered that the more people try to avoid certain thoughts, the stronger these thoughts become.

Related Article: Self-Love: The Path to True Empowerment

College students were told to think of everything except white bears, and guess what they couldn’t stop thinking of? It’s called ironic rebound. When you try to push thoughts out, they come back even stronger.

This idea infuses most mindfulness practices. It’s different from telling yourself, “Think positive.” Because if you stamp down the critical thoughts, they only come back stronger. I tested this theory in my contemplative practices.

When I relinquished rigid control of my inner experiences, I learned to slow down the critical thoughts.

Where I once felt frustration for my negativity, I now accept my thoughts, challenge faulty beliefs, and make peace with myself. And the more I feel the critical thoughts, the more I can release them. I’ve noticed that the thoughts come less frequently when I don’t try to suppress them.

You and I both probably accept that criticism, especially toward ourselves, is destructive. So we try to suppress self-criticism. But when we try to avoid a thought, it’s never far away.

By suppressing, we empower our faulty beliefs. By looking deeply and challenging the belief behind the thought, we finally get relief. 

Ready to find out how?

1. Observe your thoughts with curiosity.

Imagine yourself sitting on a riverbank, watching your thoughts flow by with the stream. Sometimes fast and rushing, other times calm and gentle.

Resist the urge to push critical or negative thoughts away; learn to welcome and observe all thoughts. This might feel unnatural or even painful at first. I understand. But remember that this is a process that will lead you toward a place of self-understanding and love.

Related Article: How You Can Find Self-Acceptance on the Spiritual Path

When thoughts resurface repeatedly, we subconsciously assume they’re true. Scientists call this a hard-wired cognitive bias in the human brain.

When l catch myself thinking, “You are too quiet and shy and not animated or interesting,” I resist my urge to deny and suppress; instead, I observe and allow the thought into my body.

2. Identify the underlying belief.

Now you can dig a little deeper. What belief lies behind your thoughts?

If you’ve spent a lifetime trying to push critical thoughts away, you may have unconsciously turned them into self-limiting beliefs.  I’d often think, “I’m too shy. Why couldn’t I have said more? Do people think I’m stupid?”

I believed that because I was shy, I was inferior and somehow deeply flawed. When I used my breath to be in my body, I felt empowered to be in the present. I allowed myself to feel the pain of feeling inferior.

You’ve observed the thought, so now can you identify the belief that causes the thought? Beliefs are about how you are as a person as opposed to transient thoughts about your actions.

If this is scary, use your breath to come back to your body and the present moment. Know that you are okay.


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10 Reader Comments

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  1.' Uriel Oriel says:


  2.' Indigo Soldier says:

    Love… It can unite the people in purpose, culture and peace. Ultimately it has the power to unite the whole world! Any thought of love uplifts the vibration of the universe. <3

  3.' Betty Jo Thornburg says:

    I’m ok, you’re ok.

  4.' Anthony Pero says:

    More articles like this, and none about the weird sex ones please 🙂

  5.' Udumbara Samarasingha says:

    why can’t I love my self?

  6.' Sam Sparrow says:

    I love myself for being nothing

  7.' Bm Oladejo says:

    Yes, I do

  8.' Rosa Valadez says:

    Dios esta conmigo, nada me falta y nada me pasara, amen

  9.' Patricia Ortiz says:

    Damaris Garcia Orellana true

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