Almost half of us begin berating ourselves almost straight away each day, according to a new study by WeightWatchers.
And the most common self-criticisms concern our weight, looks, clothes, finances, organisational skills and general unfavourable comparisons with other women.#
Time to stop? Of course it is! So make a start now by embracing a few of our tips.
1. Don't just criticise – do something
If you're not happy with some aspect of your life, get proactive. 'You can't change the past, but you can change how you feel about yourself now and choose what kinds of qualities you want to develop and enhance,' says lifestyle coach Olga Levancuka (www.skinnyrichcoach.com/).
'Pick one or two qualities you want to display as the “new you”, and work on achieving them.' If you don't like how you look because you're overweight, for example, vow to address this through a healthier diet and exercise regime. There's plenty of support available; ask your GP for advice.
Related: Healthy measures - how to stay on track and achieve your goal
2. Acknowledge your achievements
'A great way to help you find your inner confidence is to write a list of everything you have achieved in your life,' says Olga Levancuka.
'It may be that you can speak another language, that you've raised two children, or that you've won some kind of prize or award. Look at the list first thing every morning to give your self-esteem a boost, and don't forget to add any new achievements as they pop up.'
Related: Five habits a day to increased happiness
3. Master the 'confidence stance'
'As daft as it may sound, your subconscious doesn't know the difference between what you do and don't mean,' explains business coach Janey Lee Grace (janeyleegrace.com/). 'Practice standing in front of a full-length mirror and adopt a confident stance with your legs about hip-width apart. Breathe deeply and say out loud, “I am enough”.
‘You might giggle the first few times, but this positive self-talk is very empowering. You can even do the “confidence stance” at the bus stop or social gatherings – just say the words in your head, rather than out loud!'
Related: How to improve your posture
4. Challenge your critical voice
The trick, according to confidence coach Jo Emerson (jo-emerson.com/), is to catch your critical voice in action and challenge what it says. 'We all have a critical voice that's constantly commentating on our performance and berating us,' she explains.
'We believe what it says – but I promise you it's telling you fear-based lies. So when you feel anxious, ask yourself what thought you were believing that caused the anxiety. Then ask yourself what your wisest, kindest friend might say to you – and believe this instead. Now, notice how you feel when you “try on” this new thought. The more you do this, the more you'll break free from negative self-talk.'
Related: Tips to reduce anxiety
5. Laugh at yourself
If you're filled with self-loathing and negativity, it can be hard to see the funny side – but it's definitely worth the effort, according to life coach Pete Cohen (talesofalifecoach.com/).
'I always encourage people to find humour in what they're thinking,' he says. 'It's important not to take it too seriously, or you'll fall victim to it.'
What's more, laughter releases feel-good endorphins, which can make us feel more positive.
Related: How laughter improves your health
6. Venture outside your comfort zone
Another way to boost your self-confidence is to 'feel the fear and do it anyway'. Relationship therapist and coach Helen Rice (www.belovecurious.com/) explains: 'The only way to really transform a negative habit is to take action and try something new instead. Challenge yourself to do something a little bit scary every day. You might just strike up a conversation with a stranger or make a phone call you've been avoiding. But after a while, these challenges will naturally start to get bigger as your confidence grows.'
Related: 10 reasons to behave like a kid again
7. Stop comparing yourself to other people
The truth is that everyone experiences insecurities and disappointments from time to time – but some are better at hiding it than others. Social media in particular can help maintain the illusion that everyone else's life is better than yours.
A recent study at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen found that daily Facebook users who took a break from the social network felt 55 per cent less stressed after a week offline.
'We look at a lot of data on happiness, and one of the things that often comes up is that comparing ourselves to our peers can increase dissatisfaction,' says lead researcher Meik Wiking. 'Facebook is a constant bombardment of everyone else's great news, but many of us look out of the window and see grey skies and rain.'
Related: Why being grateful gives your health a boost