11 Signs You Are Too Self-Critical

11 Signs You Are Too Self-Critical
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Most of us consciously aspire to take the correct path to become the best versions of ourselves. The best tool we have to measure our efforts with is self-analysis. Of course, it’s admirable to try your hardest to do things the best you can and be the best person you can be. That’s why we often look at the negative in order to improve the next time around.

However, though self-analysis is a great way to observe your behavior and overcome your weaknesses and bad habits, it is easy to start underestimating yourself; it’s very easy to get too self-critical.

In the long term, too much self-criticism can negatively impact your success and mental health. Being too self-critical hurts your self-esteem and confidence. In fact, it’s directly related to low self-esteem and perfectionism.

Being self-critical negatively affects our self-esteem.
Being too self-critical: a woman looking through a magnifying glass.

Are you too self-critical?

It becomes a problem if we go on “autopilot” when we start to criticize ourselves. We need to wake up and notice the damage we are unwittingly causing. To see if you’re too self-critical, take a look at this list. If you think it matches up with what you do on a day-to-day basis, it’s time to put a stop to it and take better care of your mental health.


  • Nothing is good enough for you, including yourself. You feel like you never do a good enough job. In your opinion, things don’t happen like they should. Everything around you falls short, including yourself.
  • No one is to blame but yourself for every negative situation. You feel personally responsible when something bad happens. You quickly take responsibility, ignoring other external factors that are out of your control that could be related to what happened.
  • You disappoint yourself, even when it’s a specific issue you could identify and improve on. Every time you do something wrong, you feel like a failure. When you make a mistake, you assume that you’re a complete failure, even if it’s a specific, identifiable —  and therefore changeable — behavior.  Instead of focusing on the behavior that caused the problem, and you generalize.
  • Your guilt drowns you as you persistently analyze your mistakes. Do you spend a lot of time and energy analyzing what went wrong and how you’re responsible for it? But in the end you don’t ever draw a conclusion that lets you look back on the past with optimism? Maybe you dwell on your guilt and what’s wrong with you, what you didn’t do, instead of thinking of alternatives for next time.

Risk avoidance

  • Risks are not an option. You do not take risks because you feel you will fail. In your mind, things will go badly for you if you take a risk, just as they have in the past. You are convinced that the best, safest option is to do nothing.
  • You avoid expressing your opinion. Out of fear of saying something stupid, crazy, or out-of-place, you don’t say anything. If you do, you think you won’t have anything interesting to say. Maybe you believe that your thoughts are not welcome or are boring.
woman being self-critical


  • You’re never satisfied with your achievements. You constantly find mistakes in the work you do. If you can’t do something perfectly, it’s better to not do anything. You concentrate on unavoidable imperfections, even when the end results are positive.
  • All situations are possible worst case scenarios. Do you always expect the worst? Maybe when you think of the future, your thoughts always start with “But what if…” You filter all your future actions through the lens of possible failure. Your fear of humiliation and failure guides you more than triumph and success.
  • You have problems with your self-image. Perhaps you have complexes you just can’t go. You believe that the bad parts of you will affect the value and esteem others have for you. Your self-image blocks or could block professional and social progress.
  • Any criticism makes you feel defensive. Constructive or reasonable criticism bothers you. Your reactions are exaggerated, and you take what people say personally.

Stop self-sabotaging with self-criticism

Intense and frequent self-criticism is a form of self-sabotage. That is, by criticizing ourselves we do just the opposite of what’s healthy for us. Then why do we do it? Because it’s part of our bigger psychological picture, where we’re used to carrying heavy loads of rejection, fear, and oppression.

heart representing overcoming self-criticism

This is how negativity becomes a trap that’s hard to get out of. We chain ourselves to it because it’s familiar; we take ownership of it. We look for negativity on autopilot, because we feel naked without it.

If you want to stop being so self-critical and sabotaging yourself, you’ll need to get to know yourself better. It also requires changing your internal dialogue.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.