How to Get Rid of Self-Criticism and Pessimistic Thoughts

pessimistcrpdIndividuals with defensive or low self-esteem typically focus on trying to prove themselves or impress others. They tend to use others for their own gain. Some act with arrogance and contempt towards others. They generally lack confidence in themselves, often have doubts about their worth and acceptability, and hence are reluctant to take risks or expose themselves to failure. They frequently blame others for their shortcomings rather than take responsibility for their actions.

However, all emotional pain ultimately stems from something inside you. Nothing can hurt you without your agreement. What do I mean? Let’s say your best friend, Sam, came up to you and shouted at you – “Your hair is so green that it is hideous. You are worthless, you are rubbish, I hate you!” But your hair is black. What is your reaction? Would you be upset? Definitely not – it is something wrong with Sam, not you. Maybe he’s going color-blind. But what if you hold a deep sense of insecurity about your hair? What if deep down inside, you do have a feeling that your hair is hideous – that it’s green underneath the black? That’s when the pain, the anger, the depression arises inside you.

Your goal, is to go deep enough to find these hidden root fears. Eventually, you’ll find that it isn’t Sam hating you, it only seems that way. You are hating yourself because of your hair. All rejection is self-rejection. All hatred is self-hatred.

To rid yourself of relentless self-criticism and pessimistic emotional thoughts, I suggest you spend 15 minutes every day capturing your thought process on paper. Looking at your thoughts on paper will allow you to see what your thinking and assess their accuracy. Then, take the time to come up with a fair and rational rebuttal. Whether you’re depressed or just a bit down, the exercise may help you feel better within a couple of weeks.

To begin the process of self-examination, think of something that recently created a negative feeling, no matter how small. What happened? What were you feeling? What were you thinking, or what caused your feelings? What were the consequences, what did you do? Some might find this easy, others might find it hard. Yet persist. Peel away the layers, again and again, refusing to be satisfied with a superficial answer, refusing to be afraid at what you might find. Write down all you’ve discovered.

To gain a better understanding of your self esteem, journal your answers to the following:

1.) What do you do when you make a mistake?

2.) What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror?

3.) Do you like what you see when you look at yourself?

4.) When you are dealing with setbacks or disappointments what do you do? What do you tell
yourself? What do you tell others?

5.) When you make a commitment to yourself what happens to that commitment?

When journaling please keep in mind there is always the possibility of someone finding and reading your journal. The following are suggestions to use when you feel that you need more from your journaling:

At the end of your journal entry ask yourself what did you learn from your journal entry and write out your answer.

At the end of your journal entry ask yourself what can you do about the topic and write out your answer.

Ask yourself what coping skills you can use to cope with this issue.

After you have let all the emotions flow, walk away for 10 minutes. Get a drink, use the washroom, or check you email, then go back and read what you wrote. Many people get emotional just from reading. Why does reading what you just wrote cause a reaction? They’re just words on a page – there is something inside you, a pain, a shame, an open wound that is arising to meet it. There will come a time those memories and words don’t affect you any more, but you have to work at it.

Pessimist photo available from Shutterstock

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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