“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”- Carl Jung

Have you ever been self-critical about your thoughts and actions? It is human nature to evaluate yourself, others and situations. However, when your day is filled with the word should, maybe it’s more than just a checking in on how you’re doing.
A friend, Jennifer, once told me, “There is just something wrong with me, I just can’t shake it.” She continued to talk about how the only things she could see was how wrong everything was in her life. She had a feeling that people would find out what she was really like and not love her. Her suffering became a choice. Jennifer truly believed that if she beat up herself first, then no one else can put her down.  An underlying feeling of just not being OK lived just beneath her skin.

Have you ever seen the world through someone else’s glasses? The world looks a little twisted and distorted. You try to focus but it seems impossible. That’s just what it’s like to see the world through other people’s judgments of you. Sometimes, judging others becomes a whole lot easier than to look at the source of criticism.  But chronic complainer about someone else is the very symptom of the pain.

The truth of the matter is you hold beauty in every move and step you take. The shattered image of you was someone who was injured long ago. Maybe it was an ill word from your parents or possibly a teacher. These thoughts of self criticism happen so automatically and quickly. So, the trick is to turn self-judgment into self love.

Become aware when you criticize yourself. Count how many times you say the word should today. Stop and reflect how disconnected what you think you should do and what is real in the world around you. In that space, give yourself grace. Usually self-judgment shows up in your body, whether it is a knot In your stomach or tightness in your chest. These are clues of the stress your body is feeling when self judgment occurs. Breathe from your stomach and blow out through your mouth. Release the self-criticsm with your breath.

Stop analyzing.
When a critical thought pops in your head, just let it go. Now, I know that is easier said than done. It’s when you pay attention to the thought that feeds the behavior.  The negative thought sticks in your head and begins to become the center of your attention. Write down things you are grateful for and get up and do something physical. Just break the cycle of thought and note the sense of relief in your body.

Compassion. What would you say to another person if they were picked on? Maybe “It’s ok , don’t cry dear” or “that’s just not true!” We would automatically reach out to someone to comfort a friend when they were feeling pain. Hold that same amount of compassion for yourself.

Start with just one self-judgment. Stop the chatter inside of the mind and begin the see yourself in the light of truth.


For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

7 thoughts on “Self-judgment: How to Turn Should into Self-Acceptance”

  1. Wow, super insightful!!  Actually, several years ago…I started to pay attention to how I talk to myself in my head – I kept calling myself a "dumba$$" etc, for every little thing I did wrong or that didn't turn out right…  So, I decided that like I do with my son, for every negative thing I say to myself – I say 3 or 4 positive things…I felt so much better!
    My husband says that "should" is a swear word!!!  You are either doing it or you're not; it is either happening or it is not – there is NO should!
    I love this article and the picture is awesome too!!!  I am definately gonna follow you!!!!

    1. Thanks so much, Liz1 You really took charge of a stressful situation and loved yourself. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I know I'm not alone on getting down on myself from time to time and these tips are definitely going to be a part of getting myself out of the slump and back on track. Thanks Lisa!

    1. Your welcome, Brandi! You are not alone. Oftentimes folks are harder on themselves than others. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. My daughter and I have conversations like this all the time. I believe in 'learn from it and move on' and I do. I really wish people would be as forgiving of themselves as they are with others. Thank you Lisa

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top