Why all the self-criticism?
Negative self talk generally develops out of feeling as though we have to punish ourselves for our "wrong doing". Just like when we were a child we'd get scolded, so now we just do it to ourselves and sometimes even harsher then when we were a child. Often times we subconsciously believe that unless we "kick our own a$$" that will motivate us to do better. We can think that we deserve it, because we didn't live up to our own standards or what we think others expect from us.
This self bashing typically starts small, however it can get in the way of our self-acceptance and self-love. In addition the more negative self-talk we find ourselves doing the more depressed and anxious we become. The worst part is we often are not even aware of how frequent we are actually engaging in this behavior since it's generally all in our head.
If you want to stop bashing yourself, I think its important to first consider would you talk to your best friend or a cherished loved one the way you talk to yourself when you're upset?
Ways to counteract the negative loops?
Build a Mental Container: Ask yourself what kind of mental container can I put all of the negative energy into and seal it up, so its not clouding my every day thoughts? I often imagine that the negative thought is a green ball, and I lock the green ball into a chest and burry it 6 feet in the ground.
Embrace the imperfections: Every time you make a mistake you don't have to give yourself a emotion lynching. Remember that mis-steps don't need to be punished and that you can simply learn from them and move on.
Question the Black and White Thinking: Watch out for thoughts containing the words “always” or “never”, "good" and "bad." They’re usually distorted and don’t give you an accurate view of what’s happening in your life, plus life has very little absolutes.
Develop an Arsenal of Affirmations: Begin exploring what is the hardest positive thing for you to believe about yourself and write it down, then write down 3 other positive things that you believe are somewhat true, then write 2 things that you already know to be true. Read these to yourself, best of aloud each time you have a negative thought pattern.
Stephanie Konter-O'Hara, LPC, 200-RYT