Wondering how to stop self criticism?
Are you a perfectionist with a "strong type A personality," or do people say you are?
Want to know how to stop being so hard on yourself and your work?
Being particular is good. But unchecked, perfectionism can be crippling and lead to our persistent enemy: procrastination.
Research also links self-criticism to vulnerability to depression, so you want to be careful how you do it! Examining risk and resilience factors for depression:The role of self-criticism and self-compassion.
An entrepreneur in a Facebook group asked, "Does anybody have any tips on how to not be so critical of your own work?"
The answer has lessons applicable to all areas of our lives. I took a deep dive on it; here are some mindset tips to stop self criticism so you feel great and work better!
tell that inner critic to chill out.
First, you're not alone.
This is common, and part of the freelancer and entrepreneur experience. To be critical is to pay attention and be professional- just look out for negativity.
The most important thing is to love yourself.
I know this sounds cheesy, but it's the most important part. You know it sucks when you're feeling anxious, being a perfectionist, or procrastinating. You feel relieved when it's done, but hate it didn't have to be so hard. If you don't like something, you should try something new, right?
You are not your work, what you do, what you provide, or your legacy. You are a miracle simply by your existence.
This is the key to the game! Disconnecting your perceived risk of failure from your existence/annihilation, acceptance in society, and whether you are worthy of love you frees you to live your best life. You'll be ready to take on things you find fulfilling, including your best work.
I bet you've heard some variation of this your whole life, but some voices and attitudes you've internalized make it challenging to connect. Many people never grasp the concept. That's okay too.
So rehearse and think about how it makes sense. Question your pre-existing beliefs that used to cause you such self-criticism, anxiety, and procrastination. They aren't as automatic and true as you think; they're only well rehearsed.
This crucial step is a practice. It may take months to understand. Even if you immediately stop self criticism, success is remembering to quit when it comes back. Unfortunately, self criticism comes back sometimes; you just get better at dismissing it.
After understanding your inherent value, you still want to create value and help people, right? Let's go to the next steps:
Remember, you're the expert
No one will look at your work as closely as you will. You're hired because they either have no idea how difficult it is without your skills, or they would rather pay money to have someone do it better than they could. Simply do your best to accept and adapt client feedback so your work suits their needs.
Don't take any feedback personally, and don't accept or internalize personal value commentary from anybody, including yourself. In other words, even if you somehow consistently fail- you are not a failure, you only have a tendency to produce bad work in these particular situations (yes, this worst case is bad, but it's an important distinction)!
Know how your skills suit the task
Speaking of situations, recognize when you are in moments requiring you to expand your skills. It's good to stretch, but don't feel like you have to take assignments completely out of your range. Recognize when you have to develop new skills, and diligently practice to grow your comfort level.
Practice also gives you confidence to know if you aren't good at doing something yet, you are in the habit of taking steps to improve.
One time, I did an awesome write up for a medical association conference for a client. After reading my draft, they preferred a storytelling narrative. Knowing this isn't my strong suit, I offered to cut our contract short at a mutually fair, reduced rate. We had plenty of time before the deadline, so they were able to work with another writer to craft a beautiful story with the session notes and first draft.
If you're testing new skills or working with a new client, it's a good idea to be proactive in the assignment ahead of deadlines- procrastination is the worst choice here. This way, you can adapt and grow to meet their objectives, or know it's not going to work. Your client cares much more about getting the project done than if you're the person who can do it.
When you talk openly, you maintain valuable credibility. Take the pressure off yourself!
Hit the objectives,
then remember the diminishing returns on perfecting details. It's not efficient for you to make every piece your masterpiece; you and your client only need you to convey the idea to your audience.
The best you can do now is great. At any point in the future, you'll see minor things you could have done better than right now, so it's reasonable to "Let well enough alone."
Stop self criticism and fix your self talk!
Tell your negative self talk to stop. Don't beat yourself up if you made a mistake or got stuck in a passage. That voice isn't truly you. Imagine it's a person interrupting your work to say you suck- you would kick them out! "Excuse me, I'm trying to work." You're not so awful or stupid because you made a mistake; you've only found something that needs your attention.
Instead, imagine talking to yourself as your favorite teacher, most supportive friend, or how you should talk to a child. When looking for things to improve, go for "Nice try, but we can do better," or, "Oops, we're not very good at that yet, so we need to practice soon." Remember, it's ok to take a break when a moment is getting too rough.
Always celebrate with testimonials and gratitude
when things go perfectly, when things go reasonably well, and when opportunities for improvement present. Celebrating wins of all sizes affirms your efforts and makes the attempts rewarding, so it's easier to start next time.
Celebrate the process as much as the outcomes
Gather and publish testimonials to reinforce your relationships with your clients. Success stories feel great and attract new clients!
And, as always, use gratitude- remember, you're doing something you care about to do things with people you love. Keeping this elevated perspective takes you out of self-criticism and tiny details and into bliss.
Read more: Want Fulfilling Goals? 2 Keys to Gratitude
Looking to practice your new mindset?
Your wellness journey is training camp for your mindset and business practices.
The skills from developing new health habits translate well, so "how you do one thing is how you do everything" feels especially true. Practice the habit of stopping self-criticism and thoughts that you and your work aren't good enough.