It is often said that we are our own worst critics. We are told “love your neighbor as yourself” – but putting forth healthy love and respect for others begins with doing the same for yourself.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
–1 Peter 5:8
Temptation isn’t the only way in which Satan attacks us. The devil plays on our fears and insecurities. Satan is called by many names, including The Accuser and The Father of Lies.
Some of the most common lies we accuse ourselves are that we aren’t enough: good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, worthy enough, etc. We make the wrong choices, can’t do anything right…and the list goes on.
Self-criticism begins the moment we believe a lie about ourselves.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7
All of us have some degree of self-criticism (narcissists aside). But there are times when doubt and fear can send our perceptions into overdrive.
We need to become aware of when our inner critic is taking over. The first signs emerge when we become judgmental of ourselves, compare ourselves to others, have excessive expectations, or set unrealistic ideals. We need to be attuned to recognize when such feelings become excessive and/or unjustified.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Bring yourself down to earth by focusing on the basics. Are you breathing? You’re alive. Do you have food, water, shelter, and clothing? If so, you have the minimum of what you need. Find your sense of humility. Look around you. What else do you have? Focus on being grateful for what you have rather than looking to what you don’t.
Expectations are the beginning of disappointment. Don’t set them too high. When you keep your expectations set on what you need to survive, anything beyond that is a bonus.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
– Psalm 139:14
Remind yourself that you are unique. So it’s pointless to compare yourself or your life to others. You were created exactly as you were meant to be.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Keep your mind focused on the present and the things that really matter. Think about what you truly need, not what you want.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Silence the inner critic by focusing on pleasing God and helping others, rather than yourself. God knows what you need and He will provide.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
– Jeremiah 29:11