Behavioral Scale Deep Dive: High Self-Critical

Self-Critical: Focusing on one’s faults and inferiorites at the expense of a normal life.

Do you find yourself worrying about what might go wrong? Are you often too hard on yourself? If so, you may be a high scorer in self-critical. Let’s take a look at the behavioral traits of someone with a high score in self-critical and what you can do to best encourage their growth. 

High Self-Critical

Meet James. James is always worried he might do something wrong and often blames himself even when he isn’t at blame. For example, last week he planned an event on a day that it started snowing and beat himself up incessantly about it although there was nothing he could do. He also wants to interview for a new job but because he had one really bad interview he thinks it’s not worth the risk of failing again. Lastly, he always has a hard time getting dressed in the morning because he never feels like anything looks good on him.

James is a good example of someone who likely has a high self-critical score. He:

  • Can be worrisome and fearful
  • Sometimes beats himself up unnecessarily
  • Asks for little from others
  • Often assumes a submissive role in relationships
  • Sometimes perceives others as more capable, stronger and better
  • Tends to deflect compliments and rarely allows a compliment to “sink in”

Tips for Managing High Scorers

Although high scorers in self-critical are often unselfish and humble, sometimes their tendency to constantly focus on their flaws and blame themself for any bad situation can have negative consequences in their personal and work life.  Because of these tendencies, high scorers in self-critical can experience fewer positive emotions day-to-day, are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety and avoid conflict.

Here are some tips for managing someone with a high self-critical score: 

  • Encourage them to realize the way they speak to themself and then capture and replace negative, destructive thoughts with more accurate statements like “it’s OK to make mistakes. I’m not ugly. I’m not stupid. I’m not worthless,” etc. The idea is to see the unhelpful and destructive nature of beating oneself up.
  • Encourage them to speak up and voice their opinion at least once a day. Congratulate them frequently on their progress.
  • Encouragement, patience and frequent praise motivate the high scorer in Self-Critical.
  • Encourage them to say the kinds of compliments to themself that they would say to others.
  • Although it may seem like self-criticizing will help people change their behaviors, recent research shows that being self-compassionate is more effective in this regard. Encourage them to be more compassionate with themselves and talk to themself like they might a friend.

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