How to ditch self-criticism and opt for self-esteem

By Annette Paterakis

For some reason we tend to believe that in order to improve, we need to be criticizing ourselves constantly. In my opinion however, this does not work at all. It’s not helpful cause you don’t get any feedback on how to improve or make things better yet at the same time your confidence is going down the drain. Here are a few ways to ditch the self-criticism and increase your self-esteem.

1. Let go of perfection

Constantly striving for perfection is the biggest demoralizer imaginable. It results in being afraid of making mistakes and self-criticizing you’re every move. Setting the bar this high and not allowing any mistakes will most certainly set you up for failure. Instead, let go of this perfect image and start working on improvement!

2. Feel your horse

When listening to your inner chatter, you can’t be in the moment feeling your horse at the same time. As we can only perform one task with 100% attention at a given moment, you are either thinking, or you are feeling. So next time you catch yourself wondering off into defeating thoughts, just recognize it and go back to feeling your horse underneath you.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others

If you want to feel defeated, insecure or “not good enough” go ahead and compare your self to others. It’s a great way to feed the monkey mind. In case you rather stay optimistic and confident, recognize when listening to unhelpful critic and refocus on your own journey. Asking negative questions like, “why can’t I just …… ?” will only provoke negative answers. Instead ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation?” or “What am I most grateful for?” Answering these questions will fill your heart and mind with gratitude and love – the best antidote to negative emotions and feelings.

“What can I learn from this situation?”

4. Practice acceptance

When we get very angry with ourselves for not being perfect or making that mistake we, in essence can’t accept the situation. Practice the habit of acceptance. Or at least, challenge the belief that athletes need to be extremely hard on them selves in order to succeed. By interviewing top riders, I have learned that they are a lot more relaxed about making mistakes than riders not at the top.

5. Stop judging

The other day a client of mine described how she would tell herself off during her course after making a mistake, saying things like “idiot” or “I’m so stupid”. We talked about how this judging herself was standing in the way of her staying focused in the moment and how it resulted in her making even more mistakes. Notice how your judgments are standing in the way of you being positive and focused.

6. Be kind

Would you ever be this critical or negative to your best friend? Would you tell them what you say to yourself? If the answer is no, or “hell no!” then do yourself a favor and change your language and thoughts. You see, the words that repeatedly go through your mind become powerful beliefs. So stop telling yourself that negative story and start creating a more positive and enjoyable one!