So please please please be kind to yourself and let your light shine! Surround yourself with others who also let their light shine and support yours shining; the world needs you to be the best version of yourself.
The Good News:
If self-criticism is a part of your life and you would like for it not to be, there is good news. Research suggests that we can change our habitual mind habits and create more ease in our lives and improve our health and relationships! I might suggest the following:
Some people believe the self-criticism or shaming or diminishing ourselves plays an important role in "keeping ourselves in line" or being successful. We do not exist in a vacuum; the belief that self-criticism can be beneficial is common, came from somewhere (not just inside your head or even from your family, however upbringing and genetics do play a role), and has become deeply rooted in the colonized Americas.
The following practices might help you "get at" your own beliefs about self-criticism and your relationship to it. Feel free to do all of them, or just pick a few that speak to you.
a. Ask yourself and reflect upon the following "what role do I think self-criticism plays in my life?" "What might be "good" about that?" "What might be "bad" about that?" "Does the "good" outweigh the "bad"? Do I really have an interest in eliminating, managing, or modifying my relationship to self-criticism in any way? If not, then keep on doing what you are doing. No judgement in that.
b. Connect with a trusted other and talk with them about how they perceive your relationship to yourself/the ways in which you talk to yourself. Those that love us can provide valuable insight (choose wisely someone who you feel you can be vulnerable with and someone who you trust to be both honest and discerning with you. As well be prepared for the possibility to hear things that may be challenging to hear.
c. Engage in a new activity! Anything that you have never done or have little experience in...how does it go? What are your expectations of yourself going into it? How do you respond to yourself and your own capabilities? Did you become frustrated? Why? How did you respond to that feeling of frustration? What did those feelings that you had in the activity feel in your physical body (knot in your stomach, heart at ease, rocks in your throat, etc.) How did you feel about the activity and yourself engaging in it the day after?
d. Visualize a time when you felt that you failed at something. If this feels difficult, you can visualize an experience that someone has told you about, or visualize something that you could imagine another person or yourself experiencing. What happened? What did that feel like in your physical body? How did you respond to yourself? How did others respond to you? What emotions did you have around that experience? What helped you "work with" or "work through" that experience? If you are thinking of an experience that happened to someone else, how did you feel as the "outside observer" to that experience?
There are a lot more activities that can help you explore our relationship to self-criticism (and begin cultivating self-compassion), but I will stop here (feel free to connect if you'd like more).
If you've concluded that you would like to eliminate or moderate the tendency to self-criticize in your life, read on!
There is a lot that we can do to work with our tendency to self-criticize (again for more resources, feel free to connect or see web resources at the bottom of this post). One practice that I have found helpful is to simply notice; notice your thoughts, notice where your mind takes you during the day; notice your response to those thoughts; do you believe them? Always? Sometimes? Which ones tend to "stick?" Deliberately noticing where your mind goes, will help you to see if/when you fall into the same or similar "mind tapes" or habitual patterns of thought. Explore the content of those thoughts; are they kind and accepting of the person that you are in this moment?? Or are they not? Don't judge, just notice.
Noticing the habits of your mind will also enable you to intentionally put your thoughts and mind elsewhere. Your life can be what you pay attention to; so what are you noticing about the places that your mind goes in your day and how it is supporting the person that you want to be in the world? When you notice where your mind goes, be kind to it; your mind does a lot of hard and good work for you, (including all of its thought generation, helpful or not). Then choose not to believe diminishing, untruthful thoughts. If those thoughts have associated emotions and/or physical sensations, notice those emotions (or the emotions that you have labeled this to be). Notice how that feels physically in your body. Don't judge, just notice. Then take care of whatever sensations and emotions are coming up for you; stay with the sensations...do your very best to not hop on the thought-train for a high speed ticket to suffering and self-criticism. Offer yourself loving-kindness or unconditional positive regard (as it is called in some circles). I have a teacher that refers to himself as "love." You might say "Oh love, this hurts" or "my dear, this is hard, and I forgive you." Give yourself messages in a way that you might to someone that you love dearly or to a child. I have found that this small (but not easy) practice, can, over time deeply change the way in which you relate to yourself and as a consequence (and in parallel) to others.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson
Resources for Cultivating Self-Compassion (these are just a few, there are many more):
Kristin Neff, self-compassion researcher: http://self-compassion.org/about/
Christopher Germer, self-compassion researcher: http://www.mindfulselfcompassion.org/
Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research: http://ccare.stanford.edu/