There are many who confuse self criticism with self-coaching, and the reality is that they are not the same thing. Even if some of the tactics, techniques and procedures are similar, the intent in the content of the message is totally different.

Self Criticism

Self Coaching

Tearing down self Building up self
Excusing reality Embracing reality
Focused on weaknesses Focused on strengths
Fears failure Learns from failure
Seeks external approval Self motivated and directed
Views obstacles as stumbling blocks Views obstacles as stepping stones

I never lose, either I win or I learn.

Psycho Cybernetics

Self Criticism

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, in his book Psycho-Cybernetics describe 15 ways to get more living out of life. He quotes Dr. Mary-Elaine Jacobsen “The false self is a powerful adversary, one whose share-tongued admonitions can be heard in every situation of self-doubt, a foe that keeps us from our true selves and sometimes distances us from others.”

He also famously said, “Beware the Thief of Happiness, the Critic Within.” Essentially another way of saying self criticism makes unrealistic comparisons of your actual self with some version closer to perfection. It’s unreasonable and unfair because no one is perfect; but we can all make a perfect effort!

An unfortunate but powerful influence on our self appreciation comes from those whom we allow to speak into our lives. Studies have repeatedly shown that when we allow negativity to permeate our psyche, we move ourselves away from the path of success. We stop striving to win and begin working not to lose.

The prescription is simple, but often painful. Remove ourselves from the presence of those who would speak negativity into our lives.

Self Coaching

Unlike the purpose of the critic, the job of a coach is to take our performance to a higher level. There is, and should be, a degree of pride we feel in attaining goals, in reaching milestones, and in self improvement.

We can feel good about our performance without feeling guilty about the under-performance of others using some simple but effective thinking activities.

Perfect Performance Thinking Process:

  1. Take hold of and capture your thoughts. When you recognize you are doubting yourself, examine when you began to think that way and what it was that contributed to those negative thoughts.
    • Was it something you read about being too prideful?
    • Was it some derisive comment someone close to you made about your improvement?
    • Perhaps it was a spiteful barb from someone who has failed where you succeed.
    • Whatever the source of the comment, identify it for what it is and release it’s hold on you by denying it’s authenticity – it’s simply not true, so don’t buy into it.
  2. Understand that you earn what you achieve. There are simply too few opportunities that occur simply by luck or good fortune.
    • Most of the success stories you hear or read about came through hard times, repeated effort and failures, and incremental success. Rags to riches stories through over night successes are rare, so in all fairness short of winning the lottery, there are not real fit rich quick schemes.
    • If you lost a great deal of weight through proper nutrition, exercise and self motivation, you earned the right to look and feel healthy.
    • If you achieved weight loss through some other means, that’s your business and no one else’s.
    • If you started a blog, a business, or a book or a podcast and found great success, you should be proud of your accomplishments and share them with those who want to know.
  3. Be diligent, be purposeful and be aware. Filter who you allow to speak into your life, and what you allow to influence your life.
    • Why would you listen to a person who has never been successful at business, written a book or blog, maintained weight loss, etc.?
    • Why would you listen to someone who has never led a group, company or others, or follow their suggestions?
    • Instead follow, learn and study those who are doing, or have done what it is you’re seeking to do.
    • In order to lose some habits that are holding you back, you may need to let go of some people who are keeping you down. Regardless how efficient the most powerful engine is, if the filters are full, the performance will never be optimal. It can be a painstaking and tiresome job, but from time to time you need to clean out those things trapped in your filter
  4. Network but don’t get trapped in the net! All too often we forget that networking is not about what others can do for us. “I went out to find a friend, but could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.” ~Anon.
  5. Ask the most important question!
    • After you educate yourself as to who in your personal network has achieved a goal similar to yours. Ask them this simple question and be prepared to be amazed.
      • “If you had it to do over, what is one thing you would do differently to achieve your goal?”
    • Every successful person knows at least one thing they wish they had done differently to avoid some restarts and re-dos. If they are willing to share, you will springboard over your learning curve and onto the fast-track of success.

Reality: You can the most critical of yourself; so why shouldn’t you be your strongest supporter?
Dr. Matthews


Jacobsen, M. E. (1999). Liberating everyday genius: A revolutionary guide for identifying and mastering your exceptional gifts. Ballantine Books.

Maltz, M. (1960). Psycho-Cybernetics A New Technique for Using Your Subconscious Power. Wilshire Book Company