It seems so easy and normal to criticize yourself as a woman. But what’s common is not always right. How can you finally stop criticizing yourself and be set free to live your life fully? By the end of this post, I pray you can get some tips to help you on this journey.
I remember being in University and getting 95% in an Accounting test and thinking to myself “Why didn’t I get 100%? Which questions did I get wrong and why?”
Now that I think about it, I would agree with my friends that this kind of thinking is pretty ridiculous. Okay, it’s VERY ridiculous. For the most part I’ve been my own worst critic and I’m very hard on myself.
Being critical is so normal and common in us women. You look in the mirror and the thoughts pour out very fast:
“Your stomach is so big, it’ll never go away”
“You’re so ugly, even your husband doesn’t find you attractive anymore”
“Those freckles make you look ugly”
“Look at your big fat, thighs, feet, hands”
Or you make a simple mistake and start thinking:
‘’I’m such a loser”
“ I’m not smart like other moms”
“I’ll never achieve much in my life”
“I’m not good enough”
You look at your social media timeline and see images of picture perfect moms with Instagram ready homes, smiling kids and you criticize your own skills as a mom. You look at a job advert and instead of thinking how you can be an asset to the company, you only see the 3 skills in the job requirements you don’t have.
The list is endless. In fact it’s all exhausting!
What causes you to criticize yourself?
There are various roots of self-criticism:
- Growing up with strict or controlling parents who (potentially unknowingly) valued and emphasized excellent performance in return for affection
- Having a perfectionist personality
- Fear of failure can make you become too hard on yourself
- Being frequently criticized by loved ones
Regardless of the root, I’m here to let you know there is a better way to live your life. Criticizing yourself will never help you achieve anything in life. It will only make you go backwards and stop progressing in every area of your life. You can be set free from always criticizing yourself.
How to stop criticizing yourself:
1. Focus on your strengths, gifts and talents
Make a list of your strengths, natural gifts and talents. If you can’t do it, I get it. Sometimes if you’re too critical of yourself this list may even be hard to make.
In that case, I urge you to reach out to people who love you, people who’ve known you for a long time, people you know in different settings- church, work, childhood friends, family and ask them what they admire in you. What your natural gifts and talents are and what your strengths are.
I did this a few years ago and it was so eye opening. The amazing thing is you start to see themes from different people saying the same thing about you and then you know it’s real.
Focusing on your strengths and developing your gifts and talents will help you view yourself in a positive light and stop criticizing yourself.
When it comes to that mirror obsession, I say acknowledge that you’re not perfect and focus again on your strengths. I may still have that bulging stomach from having a baby a year ago but every time I look in the mirror I focus on my dashing smile and beautiful eyes.
2. Replace the negative thoughts with God’s word
One of my best tips for changing an area of your life is to have 1 verse to fight the negative thoughts and lies from the devil. The Word of God is so powerful and will surely help you to stop criticizing yourself.
The list of verses below are a good start:
1. Bible verses to stop criticizing your body
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;Psalm 139:14
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.”
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”Ephesians 2:10
2. Bible verses to stop criticizing your worth and ability
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”Philippians 4:13
“ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”2 Timothy 1:7
3. Bible verses to stop the negative self-talk
” Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”Ephesians 4:29
“casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”2 Corinthians 10:5
4. Bible verses to stop criticizing yourself about your past
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”2 Corinthians 5:17
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”Romans 8:1
You don’t need to memorize all the verses at the same time. Pick one that you can start with. Write it down, put it on your car dashboard or mirror and start replacing the self-criticism with God’s truth.
3. Journal to end the cycle of self-criticism
It’s so important to step back and take stock of what’s going on in your mind and heart. What are the words you’re saying to yourself about yourself. Are they true?
Are you always a bad mother? Nope, I bet you aren’t. But maybe this week you’re stressed and shouted at your kids more than usual. Doesn’t make you a bad mom all-round. So stop criticizing yourself about it.
Journaling will help you be less external focused and dig deep down to separate lies from truth. It will help you make a plan of action to tackle self-criticism head on. So start journaling today!
4. Seeking Joy helps you stop criticizing yourself
Doing the things that warm your heart, bring a smile on your face, leave you refreshed and energized will help you take the focus away from the negative thoughts that may be clouding your mind.
Take time off. Switch off your phone. Take a break from social media. Seeking joy even for a few minutes a day or a few hours if you can will help you relax, take care of yourself (soul, mind, body, spirit) and stop criticizing yourself.
Seeking joy doesn’t always have to cost you money. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes seeking joy is free and simple.
5. If you can’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself
This is so helpful for me. As a mom it’s so easy to be a great cheerleader to your friends, children, husband , sisters and yet not be able to do that for yourself.
It’s so important to remember that if you can never tell your friend something negative like “You’re fat”, “You’re stupid” , ‘’You’re a bad mom” then you should never, ever say this to yourself.
Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. The greatest commandment is found in Matthew 22:
“Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”Matthew 22:37-39
We need to love others as much as we love ourselves. Criticizing yourself is not loving yourself so it’s important that you refrain from doing it.
6. Pray to God for a renewed mind
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”Romans 12:2
Pray and ask God to see yourself the way God sees You. Ask God to help you renew your mind daily. It’s a process and journey you need to work through.
Bad habits are never easy to break but with God all things are possible. Commit to the process of being set free from self-criticism and the Holy Spirit, our Helper will be there to help you every step of the way.
Lord I thank you that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made in Your image. Thank you for loving me just as I am. Thank you that in You I am a new creation who is no longer condemned. Help me see myself the way You see me. Help me to stop criticizing myself. Renew my mind with the truth of your Word.
In Jesus name I pray.