How to Overcome Self-Critical Thoughts

Research tells us that the more we criticise ourselves, the slower we progress over time and the less likely we are to achieve our goals. This in mind, here are five actions you can take to stop self-critical thoughts and become more positive.

Create Distance from Your Thoughts

We have around 60,000 thoughts every day that either build us up or tear us down. According to John Kreiter, rather than identifying with all of our thoughts, it helps to learn to observe them from afar. He said,”A simple way to begin to do this is to see your thoughts as a never ending ‘train’ that flows past you.  See yourself as standing in front of these train tracks while this incredibly long train goes past you.”

Practice Mindfulness

Another method for breaking out of your thoughts is practicing mindfulness. To do this, you need to put complete focus on what you’re doing, slow down, and observe all of your physical and emotional sensations in any given moment. You could practice mindfulness while doing practically anything. For example, while eating, you could take time to really chew your food and concentrate on its flavours and texture. Doing this throughout your day will help shut down self-critical thoughts and strengthen your attention span for the times when you really need it. 



Be Compassionate Towards Yourself

Anything that leads you to doubting and criticising yourself will make it hard for you to see that there is room for improvement. For instance, in her book ‘Self-compassion‘, Dr. Kristin Neff’s shows that self-compassion can be exactly what’s needed to make self-criticism bearable. For example, rather than criticising yourself for doing badly on a test, you could accept that you could have done better learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them next time. 

Replace Negativity with Rational Positivity

Negative thoughts and words can be too easy to believe and can distort how you think of yourself. This can then impact your sense of self-worth. What’s more, when speaking negatively about yourself to others, you only affirm this negativity. Rather than allowing yourself to be trapped in self-critical thoughts, remember that if you can think the worst, you are also capable of thinking the best. Negativity distorts reality; positive and rational thinking allows you to take control of it.



Medina Kabir

Aspiring journalist at Cal State Long Beach. Journalism Intern at Long Beach Post. Writer for Sutava.