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Mental health: do you find it hard to give yourself a break? Try this technique for silencing your inner critic

Does the idea of making a mistake fill you with dread? Here’s how to get your self-criticism under control, according to a new study.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that ‘perfection’ does not exist, but many of us still spend our lives setting unrealistic standards for our bodies, work and relationships.

It’s a lose-lose situation; not only does trying to be ‘perfect’ set you up for disappointment, but it can also lead you to become incredibly self-critical – especially when your efforts fall short of the result you had hoped for.

And while a little bit of self-criticism can help you to stay grounded and self-aware, too much can be incredibly detrimental for your mental health and end up damaging your self-esteem in the long run. It can also make it harder for you to enjoy success – and leave you feeling less satisfied in general.

So, what can you do to rein in your inner critic and give yourself more of a break? According to a new study by scientists from the University of Trier in Germany, the answer could lie in the way you think about your mistakes.

The study, which was published in the Journal Of Affective Disorders earlier this month, surveyed 479 people to find out more about people with a “self-critical personality style” – a type of personality associated with “negative internal thoughts about one’s self-attributes and behaviours”.

The study identified what drives those with a self-critical personality style – looking to please others, rather than themselves. It also unearthed a key trait that contributes to their self-criticism – a sensitivity to negative feelings – and took a closer look at how those who struggle with self-criticism view failure.