Ending the Cycle of Self-criticism
“You are such a loser.”
“ You are so ugly”
“ You just made a huge mistake! Why can’t you get anything right?”
“ Every other girl at school is so much prettier than you. You will never be able to look like they do.”
“ You will never be able to achieve your goals.”
Has anyone ever said these things to you? I hope not. Have you ever said them to yourself? Probably so.
Most girls wrestle with self-criticism. We tend to be our own worst enemies and harshest critics. But dwelling on negative thoughts about ourselves puts us on a dangerous path. When we fail to see our own value and when we subject ourselves to a constant bombardment of negative thoughts and criticisms, it will impact our choices and relationships.
I distinctly remember feeling like I had to talk bad about myself as a young woman in order to fit in. I would say things like “I’m so fat” or “I’m so stupid” around my friends even though I knew those things weren’t true. Have you ever done that?
There seems to be an unspoken expectation among young women to be self-critical. The idea is that hating our bodies, our abilities, and our beauty is just part of being a girl. But there is danger in that line of thinking. The Truth is, what we say matters. What we think matters too. This is especially true when it comes to how we see ourselves.
2 Corinthians 10:5b says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
These verses give us a blueprint for how we are to think and speak. It’s not wise to let critical thoughts run wild. It is also true that when we constantly talk bad about ourselves (or others) it does little to benefit the speaker or the listener.
Even so, self-criticism can be a hard habit to break. Here are some tips for how to begin to see yourself the way God sees you.
1. Do your homework
God’s Word has so much to say about your beauty and value. But, don’t take my word for it. Do some digging on your own. Find Scriptures that specifically address your value to God. He has so much to say about you, you wont’ have to search for long.
2. Memorize Scripture
Memorize several key verses that remind you of your value to God. Then, when the urge to think or speak negatively about yourself creeps up, recite these verses over and over in your mind (or out loud).
Here are a few of my favs:
“ I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).
“ The King is enthralled by your beauty. Honor him for he is the Lord” (Psalm 45:11).
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are” (1 John 3:1).
3. Make confidence cool
Have a chat with your friends. Let them know that you’re trying to stop the cycle of self-criticism in your own life and ask them to join you. Make a pact to hold each other accountable when one of you starts being hard on yourself.
4. Ask for a new view
Actively pray for God to give you a new perspective. Ask Him to show you how He sees you and to teach you how to see yourself in the same way.
Here’s the bottom line: you are the carefully crafted creation of a loving God. You may not look perfect, act perfect, or achieve everything you set out to do, but that doesn’t change how He feels about you. Honor Him by thinking and speaking highly of His creation. What a difference it will make!