Do you have that little voice in your head telling you every time you do something wrong? Don’t worry you aren’t crazy, this is a healthy thing called your self-critic. Or let me rephrase. This is healthy if your inner dialogue does not break you down (destructive) but builds you up (constructive).
How do you know which is yours?
This may sound familiar to you, “I am my own worst critic.” Or, “You haven’t said anything to me that I haven’t either already said to myself or worse.” Yep, this is the dark side of self-criticism.
Here are some examples you may have uttered to yourself at one time or another:
- You idiot you did it wrong, again.
- Wow, you aren’t looking so good.
- Don’t even try you’ll fail.
- What an ass you are, how humiliating was that?
- Well that isn’t good enough, you are awful at this.
Now try to imagine what you say to yourself being said to someone you care about; ie, your child, best friend, sibling, parent or pet. You’d rise up in their defense telling them not to talk to your -fill in the blank- that way.
The curious thing is… why don’t you have the same reaction when it comes to yourself?
When self-deprecating remarks spur their ugly heads their impact is larger than you think. These small statements don’t stop chastising.
“That was stupid. What was I thinking? I knew that was going to happen, but there I go again? When will I ever learn. Sometimes I just deserve the crap I get…” And so on.
They build up to beat you down even more taking your confidence and self-esteem with it. All of this feeds into how you gage your own self-worth. Self-worth is a key element that brings you happiness and fulfillment.
Self-criticism Vicious Downward Spiral
Sad isn’t it. Needless. Why are some of us so hard on ourselves? Life is hard enough without us making it that much harder.
Reality Check! Where there is failure, there is opportunity.
There are simple, incremental changes we can make to turn that nagging voice into a valuable tool for growth. It starts by putting that inner demon in its place.
Root: Where are these really coming from? Most of the time these chastising thoughts have no validity in reality.
Vantage: How can I change this to a constructive thought? Pointing out something bad has no point unless there is a solution to get better.
Respect: What can I do to move past this? Own it. Say, “Yep, I made a mistake. I am human.” Give yourself a break. Be compassionate to your own being.
The beauty of being human is our ability to recognize the value of living our lives a better way. Now the hard work. Doing it.
Take it further and learn more about self-criticism:
- 3 Ways to Quiet Self Criticism, Psychcentral
- The Art of Constructive Self Criticism, Psychology Today
- 5 Immediate and Easy Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic, TinyBuddha.com