My question to him was could he please himself. For him that is the real question here. Although extremely obnoxious and discouraging when someone we love is constantly finding fault with us, it is not critical that we be able to please others. That is, if we successfully can please ourselves consistently. We don't have to be fully pleased with everything we do but we must be able to do things that we want done without berating ourselves regularly so that we can have successes that we can rely on when we are put down by others. If we have confidence in ourselves then we need not have the confidence of others (although it is still enjoyable and makes things smoother in our life). With confidence in ourselves then, we can still meet our needs and goals adequately to move forward and grow.
There are some ways to encourage and help ourselves gain confidence. One way that I like and encourage my client's to do on occasion is called "affirmations". Affirmations are positive self talk.
The second type of affirmation is to repeat to ourselves a list of strengths we already actually have. An example of this is "I am kind to others". This serves as a reminder that we DO have strengths and as we gain confidence and remember the strengths that we already have, we increase in strength and confidence to become what we want to become. In other words using our current strengths to help overcome our weaknesses.
In our family we started a tradition many years ago at dinner time. We call it "successfuls". Each person gets to tell something they did successful that day. It must be something they did and not something they didn't do. For example, "I didn't yell at my sister" is not acceptable, but "I was patient with my sister" is acceptable. I believe this has been a good habit that we have created to give each person a chance to look at their day and find something successfully done. On some days we may not feel successful or even hopeful, but when we look closely we can see many things that we did well. However; sometimes there were days when one daughter couldn't see that she had done something successful. Then we would allow them to ask family members to help them. When that happened they typically would hear more than one thing they had done successful which in itself was very affirming!
An important key to affirmations is to accept that people can change, even ourselves. We are not stuck in old patterns but we can become something different and better. Affirmations help affirm that ability to grow and mature and be different. Give them a try and see if they can change your outlook on things.
Before you try affirmations, realize that you must be consistent and read them or say them or even act them out frequently. The more senses you use the quicker you learn them and begin to make progress. Repeat them until they are memorized and then say them frequently, even and especially when you are weak and prone to negative thoughts about yourself. When you can remember them with minimal effort then they are close to the surface and able to really have a chance to make a difference. They can help change your attitude and encourage belief in yourself and your ability to succeed and be who you want to be.