From self-criticism to self-love


From self-judgement to self-love

including a guided introspection

In this blog, I would like to encourage you, share experience, inspire inner exploration and inner work through exercises and a guided introspection, support you to take steps on your way towards more self-love, and to, hopefully, tickle a smile out of you occasionally.


Self-love is a buzzword you hear and read everywhere at the moment. Loving oneself sounds so logical and one thinks it came naturally, however, somehow it seems to be one of the hardest things in the world. Perhaps we are dealing with a paradox? Or perhaps it is a philosophically tease by two of the most essential questions: “What is the self?” and “What is love?


Self-criticism is easy

But let us stay down-to

-earth and practical for the moment: everyone has messed up, failed, made mistakes, been a blockhead. We have all done things we are not proud of, experienced and caused embarrassing situations, failed to seize opportunities. There have been moments when we did not dare, made ourselves small, hid and held ourselves back in all the wrong moments. Sometimes we have even taken up too much space, hurt others, steamrolled them, behaved like an idiot, been too stubborn or too proud, or ….


Whilst, at the same time, we all carry some Hollywood or super(wo)man images in our heads of how we would like to be, look, and come across. Our bar is raised high, and we have lost the damn jumping stick somewhere again! Instead of finally giving ourselves a run for our money, we accidentally step into the next pitfall. Well, never mind – if we cannot get close to our own unrealistic and mostly inhuman ideas, at least we can really judge ourselves for it!

Self-condemnation is easy and happens quickly – and yet weighs quite heavily in the long run.


But why is it so difficult to love oneself?


This question I am being asked often. And the answer is as simple as it is difficult: because in order to do so, you have to acknowledge who you are – warts and all – or as we say in German: “with all our corners and edges”.


At this point I would like to add another perspective on why self-love can go wrong. In many Family Constellation training courses, I could experience that an absence of self-love can be an indication that there might be a blockage in the flow of love from one or both parents to you – or in the flow of love of the parents to each other. Sometimes, there is something you can do to restore that flow – and sometimes, it is a matter of acknowledging the situation as it is and practising patience. Here, constellation work can help to bring the hidden dynamics to light.

I see so many people who judge and beat themselves up in moments in which they cannot feel self-love. Well, if it already hurts, why not stomp on it again!?

If you notice that you are experiencing an absence of self-love and you do not seem to be able to bring it into flow, I recommend you try and be compassionate towards yourself instead.

I once read a fitting, if not very charming, joke: “Love is like a fart. If you have to force it, it’s probably sh#t.” 


Talents: like a duck takes to water

I have experienced it myself and I also experience it again and again with my clients: often, our talents are like the air we breathe – they come so naturally to us that we do not even notice them. Instead, we usually only see what we, according to our own perception, do not fulfil. How do you get a fish to realise what the ocean is?

A good question to ask to gain a change in perspective is, “What comes easily to me that is difficult for others?”

I have travelled a lot in my life and lived in a few countries. Packing my bags and going on an adventure was my thing. “Mum, I’m going to the States as an Aupair.”, “Mum, I’m moving to Paris now!”, “Mum…” (P.S.: My mother’s talent: strong nerves!) I often heard: “How do you do that so easily? It takes so much courage!”, whilst I always thought: “Courage? You don’t need courage for that. You book a ticket, look for a flat share and a job and that’s it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.” Firstly, I did not see the courage and secondly, I did not rank in my list of talents. So here is another question for you: In your eyes, what counts as a talent?

“What comes easily to me that is difficult for others?”


The devil is in the details

Someone once said to me: “Imagine that everything in the universe was perfect. What would happen? Nothing! Nothing would happen anymore. There would be no more movement!”

Even though the concept that perfection would be static is debatable, I find the image very illustrative. 

Because self-criticism, or differently packaged, perfectionism, or the demand for perfectionism alone, can lead in many people to a feeling of paralysis, a high level of inner and outer rigidity, immense feelings of shame coupled with fear of criticism by others, and even anxiety attacks.

“Before I do something wrong, I’d better not do it.”

 “Before my neighbours see me without make-up, I’d rather not leave the house.”

“I’d love to sing … but I can’t sing!”

“Before I go looking for a partner, I’d better lose a few more kilos. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work out because loneliness makes me overindulge in culinary delights.”

“Before the guy criticises me, I’d rather criticise him first.”


How do I get out of the vicious circle of self-flagellation? – Succumb to the temptation of self-forgiveness.


Maybe it is time to break away a little from all the old blah blah.

Are you ready to move towards self-love, treating yourself with kindness, towards more harmony, alignment, self-acceptance, joy, lightness, playfulness … and free more aliveness?


Then here is an invitation to inner exploration and work – including a guided meditation.

  1. Answer the following questions:
  • Which of your character traits do you find difficult to accept?
  • What do you criticise yourself for?
  • What in your life are you not proud of?
  • Where have you totally messed up?
  • Who have you hurt?
  • What would you look like and how would your life look like, “if only …”
  • What would you like to embody?
  • What would you like others to think of you?
  1. Move away from self-criticism and towards self-love through this guided introspection:

           Author: Brandon Bays

          Write down:

  • Which expectations towards yourself are you letting go now?
  • What are you forgiving yourself for now?

       3. Observe yourself         throughout your day: catch yourself when you criticise or judge yourself. Stop, breathe, and give yourself an inner hug.

  1. Train your willingness to make mistakes

Sometimes we simply mess up. These ‘wrong’ moments form part of life! As we all know, we can learn from mistakes, and they remind us of what we are: human. In any case, they are excellent for shattering any kind of arrogance and ensure that every now and then we get off our high horse and kiss the ground.

Willingness to make mistakes and admitting mistakes are muscles we can practise. How? Here are a few tips:

  • Start a new hobby; paint a picture, play an instrument, take dance classes, …
  • Daily, consciously choose to do 3 things completely ‘wrong’ – as wrong as you can possibly do them. For example, stack the dishwasher as completely nonsensical as you possibly can – and then press ‘start’.
  • Practice sentences such as: “I am sorry.”, “I was wrong / I made a mistake / I was barking up the wrong tree. / I didn’t get it.”


„Even I am allowed to make mistakes. “

„I am loved for the person who I really am. “



Enjoy and I am looking forward to hearing from you and what transpires on your path!


With love,

Michaela Sturm

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