The Real Reason You’re So Self-Critical, From A Psychiatrist


Many of us believe that we are too critical of ourselves — and we are not wrong, for the most part. Whether we berate ourselves over a less-than-perfect presentation, chide ourselves for saying “the wrong thing” at a friend’s party, or tear ourselves down for making unhealthy choices for weeks on end, most of us are a little too self-critical .

To change the way we relate to ourselves, it helps to recognize why we criticize ourselves in the first place. Many of us don’t realize that our self-criticism actually serves us in ways we are often unaware of. If we can understand what we’re getting from our self-criticism, we can start to think about how we can have those needs met in healthier ways.

When we criticize ourselves, we don’t just tear ourselves down; we trigger the fears we have about ourselves to create the desired outcome. Moreover, blaming ourselves allows us to narrow our attention, which shelters us from positive and negative possibilities. In this way, self-criticism breeds narrow-mindedness and serves to protect us by providing:

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