Master Your OCD
OCD Family Support
Hair Pulling/Skin Picking
OCD Groups!

How To Deal With Self-Criticism - The Mean Voice in My Head

self criticism Feb 08, 2023
Self criticism

"I can't believe I made such a stupid mistake on that project. I'm so incompetent. I'll never be successful at anything."
"I'm so lazy. I can't believe I haven't been able to stick to my workout plan. I'm never going to get in shape."
"They say treatment is easy, yet I'm not doing it. I must be an idiot."

Do you think these statements are helpful or harmful? I mean, saying them every once in a while is okay right? uhhhh wrong. Our brain takes note to self-criticism and what we know is the way we think is going to be the way that we feel.

Hey, I'm Nathan Peterson, a licensed therapist, helping your mental health journey go easier.

Self-criticism can be a difficult and destructive habit, but with the right strategies, it is possible to overcome it and learn to be kinder and more compassionate towards yourself.

First, let's define self-criticism. It is the act of judging and criticizing oneself, often in an overly harsh or negative way. It can manifest as negative self-talk, perfectionism, and an inability to accept mistakes or failures.

How to stop being mean to myself

Self-criticism can have serious negative effects on our well-being, including low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and even physical health problems. It can also hold us back from achieving our goals and living a fulfilling life.

Self-criticism is a common behavior that many people engage in, but it is not always helpful or healthy. So why do we do it? Here are a few possible reasons:

1. To motivate ourselves. Some people use self-criticism as a way to motivate themselves to improve or do better. They believe that if they are hard on themselves, it will push them to work harder or strive for perfection. However, this approach can often backfire, as self-criticism can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and other negative emotions that can actually hinder performance.

2. To cope with stress or failure. Self-criticism can also be a way to cope with stress or failure. When we are facing difficult challenges or experiencing setbacks, it can be tempting to blame ourselves and engage in self-criticism as a way to try to make sense of what went wrong. However, this approach is not productive and can actually make things worse by adding to our stress and undermining our confidence.

3. To meet social expectations. Some people may also use self-criticism as a way to fit in or meet the expectations of others. They may believe that they need to be hard on themselves in order to be seen as successful or worthy. However, this can be damaging to our well-being and can lead to an unhealthy need for approval from others.

Overall, self-criticism is a negative and unhelpful behavior that can have serious consequences for our well-being and happiness. While it may sometimes seem like a useful tool, it is important to learn healthier and more compassionate ways to cope with stress and challenges.

So, how can we learn to deal with self-criticism and replace it with more helpful, supportive thoughts and behaviors? Here are some strategies to try:

How to show self compassion

1. Identify your self-critical thoughts. The first step in dealing with self-criticism is to become aware of it. Pay attention to your internal dialogue and notice when you are being overly critical or judgmental of yourself. Write down your self-critical thoughts and try to identify any patterns or triggers.

2. Practice self-compassion. Instead of judging and criticizing yourself, try to be understanding and kind towards yourself. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and has flaws, and that it is normal and human to have weaknesses. Try saying kind and supportive things to yourself, as you would to a good friend. I even say boast about yourself when him you notice a success. Let everyone know about it.

3. Challenge negative beliefs. Often, self-criticism is based on negative beliefs about ourselves, such as "I am not good enough" or "I always mess things up." These beliefs are not always accurate, and they can be changed. Try to identify the underlying beliefs behind your self-criticism and challenge them with evidence to the contrary. So okay, I am not good enough.... Can I actually prove this thought? I mean it, I need to look for every instance in my life because I am not good enough means I have failed at everything. Usually when we go down this road we realize it's a bunch of baloney. If we can't prove it we can't feel it. If you're feeling it even though you can't prove it it's an error message. We don't have to listen to every error message that pops up. Instead we learn to give ourselves more grace for living life. Instead of saying I am not good enough I might say I really felt like I struggled with this project and this is what I'm going to learn from it but I'm happy that I've had success in the past with these different areas. In fact I want individuals to learn from poor mistakes but not tear themselves up because of them.

4.Set realistic goals and expectations. Perfectionism can be a major contributor to self-criticism. Try to set goals and expectations for yourself that are realistic and achievable. Remember that it is okay to make mistakes and that progress and learning often come through trial and error. I really like short realistic goals. Something I can even achieve today. our brain needs to learn that we can overcome hard things daily.

5. Seek support. Dealing with self-criticism can be challenging, and it can be helpful to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can help you work through negative thought patterns and develop coping strategies for managing self-criticism.

Self-criticism can be a difficult habit to break, but it is possible with practice and persistence. By becoming aware of your self-critical thoughts, practicing self-compassion, challenging negative beliefs, setting realistic goals and expectations, and seeking support, you can learn to be kinder and more supportive towards yourself.

Start today. You might take the time to write down all the negative thoughts you have throughout the day and you might be surprised how many come up.

And to help you with one of the biggest unhelpful thoughts go watch the video on how to stop catastrophizing right now. This goes through lots of detail on how you can challenge these thoughts and live a better happier life.

Thank you for watching and I'll see you next time.

It's time to recover. Let me help you!

Master Your OCD 

A guided step-by-step OCD course that teaches you how to lower anxiety, overthinking, and compulsions.

Learn all the OCD tricks and create a customized game plan to stay one step ahead. 


Try for free

Join my Patreon!

-For OCD sufferers, parents, spouses, etc.

-Monthly LIVE Q&A with Nathan Peterson

-LIVE chat with others

-Early access to YouTube videos

-Get discounts on Merch

Sign up now

Rise From Depression

Self-guided course to help you kick depression to the curb and live life the way you want to. 

Learn the evidence treatment skills that is proven to work for depression.


Try for free

How to Support Someone with OCD

Finally learn how to help your loved one with OCD.

Build confidence, set boundaries, and work together effectively.

Sign up now

Overcome Hair Pulling & Skin Picking

Step-by-step course that teaches you how to stop pulling hair and stop picking skin.

Learn the evidence treatment skills to help you overcome your BFRB.


Try for free


Ready to slay your OCD like a hero?

Let me show you LIVE how I do OCD treatment step-by-step. It's authentic and real. See the question and answer at the end.



Sign up now

OCD and Anxiety Shop

To help remind yourself of your treatment goals, check out the OCD and anxiety merch.


Show yourself that you're worth it and that you can do hard things.



Visit the shop