Whether it's about their looks, accomplishments or careers, women always find faults within themselves and worry how other people see them. New research has proved that women are indeed highly self-critical.

In a report released by Weight Watchers, women were found to criticize themselves at least eight times a day. In a survey of 2,000 women, one in seven participants admitted to criticizing or berating themselves regularly each day.

An estimated 46 percent of these women even admitted to putting themselves down at least once in the morning before 9:30 a.m. Most of their self-criticisms deal with weight issues, physical attributes, career path, money and relationships.

In fact, a staggering 89 percent said that they prefer complimenting other women but not themselves. The survey also found that around 42 percent of women claimed that they never compliment themselves while 58 percent gave themselves positive thoughts only once a day. Of the respondents, 60 percent admitted to having days in which they criticize themselves constantly throughout the day.

Image-based self-criticisms were the most prevalent among the surveyed women. However, some women also worried about having low income or lacking organizational and creative skills. The study blames the "Hall of Mirrors" era wherein women become so conscious about how they look because they want to coincide with what society thinks is perfect.

"Today's hectic and visually-driven world has meant that we're seeing a rise in women being self-critical, from the way they look to the way they feel at work," said Zoe Griffiths, Head of Public Health and Programme at Weight Watchers.

Is social media to be blamed?

"Our research has shown that being unkind to ourselves has been an underlying theme for women for many years, but a set of very modern cultural conditions have increased the intensity of this unkindness which are hard to avoid," Griffiths added.

Social media platforms make it easier for women to be surrounded with images that raise their expectations on how a "perfect body" or a "perfect life" should look like. While some people post mostly positive things about themselves, others can go way overboard by posting depictions of luxurious lifestyles, perfect relationships, material possessions or tremendous career growth. 

These posts tend to lead women to compare themselves with others, a destructive habit that causes one to use other people's lives as the basis for what is deemed perfect or socially acceptable. If women would stop letting society dictate their happiness, they can also stop self-criticizing and feeling less of themselves.

Self-affirmations can boost performance

In contrast to self-criticism, self-affirmations are meant to increase self-esteem and confidence. In a past study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers found that people in lower positions at work may boost their performance through self-affirmations that can calm their nerves.

People who reiterated their strongest work traits in their mind and thought of positive assets performed better and had more confidence when placed in high-stakes positions.

"Anytime you have low expectations for your performance, you tend to sink down and meet those low expectations," said study author Sonia Kang, assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the University of Toronto.

"Self-affirmation is a way to neutralize that threat," she added.

Apart from improving work performance, self-affirmations can ameliorate one's well-being, self-compassion, pro-social behaviors and problem-solving under stress. It also boosts confidence, whether it's regarding physical looks or mental capabilities.

Photo: Ashley Webb | Flickr 

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