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Self-Criticism Is Toxic And Will Rob Your Mental Strength


Here I was, signing divorce papers again. It wasn’t my first rodeo, but the stakes were higher. I was trying to be brave and on the outside I was celebrating my new freedom. No man to tell me what to do, no more cleaning pee from a toilet. (Cheers to that!)


Inside however, I felt defeated. I was beating myself up. How did I end up in this relationship? Why didn’t I see the signs when we were dating? Why did I ignore my gut feeling? How could I be so naive and not see what was in front of me? I am so stupid, I fell into a trap. I am never going to find true love. I suck at relationships. I am not meant to have a life partner… over and over I berated myself. I felt I wasn’t good enough and I was telling myself I never would be.


Lamenting over my misfortunes, a friend offered some advice. “Be gentle with yourself” she said. She was right. Whenever she shared a situation or recounted a bad day, I always listened with compassion and empathy. I championed her and reminded her about how amazing she was. Why couldn't I speak in the same way? Why was I talking to myself in a way I would never speak to a friend or loved one - or even a stranger for that matter!


"The reality is that we are much harder on ourselves than we would ever be to other people."

In the Feisty Mermaids podcast 8 (out on January 12), I talk about paying attention to how we talk to ourselves. I reference the book by Robert Collier, “Secret of the Ages.” It is the book that helped inspire the movie, The Secret. I learned that our thoughts become self fulfilling prophecies. Because the thoughts we put out to the world and universe eventually become our reality. It is what we attract and manifest into our lives.


The reality is that we are much harder on ourselves than we would ever be to other people. When I’ve made a mistake at work, I am still beating myself up weeks later about it, when my boss simply coached me on paying attention to the details and then moved on.


Quieting that inner critic is still work in progress, but here are some things that have helped me:

  1. Making a list of things I like about yourself

  2. Starting my day by saying positive affirmations

  3. Acknowledge the negative self talk and rephrase my thoughts

  4. Talking to myself like if I were talking to a friend

  5. Engaging in activities I enjoy


Most importantly, I’ve learned to forgive myself by accepting that the decisions and actions I take are based on the information I have at hand. It is impossible to know if a relationship is going to work out or not, there were just too many variables. It’s taken me a lot of reflection and self love to acknowledge that in every relationship, I made the best decision with the information I had. This gentleness and kindness gives me comfort - it gives me permission to learn valuable lessons without making myself feel bad. It helps me rebuild with love and compassion.


Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

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