Now we have learnt to catch these self-critical thoughts in the act, we can now work towards the habit of challenging them.
It’s very easy to believe the thoughts in your mind, but if you can spot these thoughts for what they are you can learn to externalise these as the voice of your low self-esteem. Once this is established, they may begin to affect you less, and challenging them becomes simpler and less daunting. Often, your thoughts are not looking at the whole picture, and you’ve maybe not taken all the information into account. We might liken this to tunnel vision.
Consider the above questions: Should these self-criticisms be considered as factual or just as passing thoughts? What evidence do you have to really consider them facts? What evidence challenges these thoughts? What do you want out of the current situation and do these thoughts assist with reaching that goal? Although there are positives to self critical thinking, (occasionally motivational) do they outweigh the negatives such as the subsequent negative emotions? Do they reflect a healthy and balanced perspective?
Another key question is would you say the same to a family member or friend, or could this be a bias double-standard you hold against yourself? It is common for those with low self-esteem to have one rule for themselves and a kinder, fairer one for others.
How do these questions help? By looking at the wider picture, we might find a more balanced way to evaluate situations we are in. In turn, this can reduce the negative emotions self-critical thinking brings with it. Furthermore, we can add more columns to the diary from step 1- ‘Identify self-critical thoughts’, to allow us to effectively use this process. See below!
Take some time to jot down your ideas – you can use the downloadable resource below.