Self-criticism is disastrous.
“Self-criticism, like self-administered brain surgery, is perhaps not a good idea. Can the ‘self’ see the ‘self’ with any objectivity?
”—Joyce Carol Oates.
Be honest with yourself and answer this question, are you hard on yourself?
I understand this has different effects on many people. So let me be clear with what I meant by the question.
For instance, what goes on in your head when you make mistakes? Do you beat yourself up, criticize yourself, ask if you could have done better?
Are you conscious of a strict attacking voice that says nothing you do is ever good enough?
Are you always trying to be perfect? Are you hyper-conscious of what others think of you?
The truth is you cannot control what people think or say about you. However, you can control how you react to it. Your opinion about yourself matters a lot.
The list is crazy and endless. But this should give you a perception of whether your relationship with yourself is liberating or crippling you.
Self-criticism can be damaging to your mind and your life goals.
Overly condemning yourself can cause you to throttle your progress, making your visions further away. Also, be very careful about criticizing yourself because it leads to depression. Which is the leading effect of mental illness if not control on time.
But for a minute let’s ask ourselves how we become this way? What pushes us to be so hard and condemning of ourselves in the first place?
While we could blame and put it on our bosses, friends, and colleagues. Whose actions or verbal expressions can cause us to question our abilities, worth and be our own inner critic.
It majorly relates to our childhood and our upbringing. Where we had critical parents or caregivers who nothing you did was good enough for them. You may as well have taken on this narrative and become this inside critic yourself.
It becomes printed on our soul and we link the inner voice with whom we really are. Meanwhile, all we have is a mini version of our parents inside our heads living life with us in real-time.
We have been shaped to live their lives fully and be them or do what we want. While our own life is lived only in our imaginations, thoughts, and dream.
And when we fall out of line or character, self-criticism dives in.
I once told someone about my father while we were having a conversation. I grew up in a home where my mother was a kind, correcting, and compassionate woman.
However, my father’s strict once-in-a-blue-moon disciplining attitude meant I could never meet his expectations. He was never around, which worsened the situation as there was a constant foreboding that precedes his arrival.
There was Nothing I did that was good enough for him because to him, I could always do better.
Fast forward to years later. I adopted this critical inner voice and would reprimand myself for not performing better.
I took refuge in the studying and sporting activities and pushed myself way overboard, reading any book I could find and learning new words so I could impress him, training for hours or more, which eventually took its toll.
I wasn’t aware of its implications at the time because I felt I was being ambitious and exploring my physical and mental capabilities.
It was only when I had enough training and competitively building myself this way that I realized the voice inside my head was not my own but the condemning voice of my father.
Obviously, I aimed to prove it wrong, yet the voice was never on my side. It pushed me to have so much self-doubt that I developed imposter syndrome because I felt I could always do better.
Can you relate to this story? Are you conscious of how your inner critic rules on in your life?
Well, we all have our own stories of how our inner voice sabotages our life. I have seen dozens of similar cases to mine and yours where their inner parents pushed them to low esteem and self-doubt.
What’s crazy is that many of those who are made and successful are not really aware that their inner critic is an imaginary character. They presume it is their own drive that is responsible for their success.
When finally they learn to distinguish the inner critic from their personal voice. They stop pushing themselves because there is nothing to prove.
I had to change my inner conversations when I hit depression and stagnancy. As I wound up doing nothing I really wanted. The new self-talk and appreciation method I adopted seemed alien and unusual at first because I was unfamiliar with being honest and kind with myself.
The inner criticizer would remind me I was weak. However, I stopped myself from noticing the inner voice as it came.
The inner critic later died out over time, and I changed myself to build more compassion, kindness, and patience for myself.
The inner critic is normal to every individual but it’s your duty to suppress it as it comes to avoid low self-esteem.
I became better, I found myself, and started doing things that made me happy. I related to people more authentically without thinking I should naturally be better than them.
The most important thing is that it feels cozy being my real self.
I never liked the inner voice that wasn’t mine but felt compelled to listen to it. This is because it was the only voice I knew that could keep me straight and I didn’t want to ever let it down.
To be clear, it was my father I was always afraid of disappointing, not the inner voice. I figured the tough inner voice of my father had got me this far in life, so why change it?
While criticizing yourself is natural at times, you have to be able to control it before it becomes an issue.
Thinking or speaking about yourself negatively will do more harm than good. I went to visit a friend of mine, as soon as I knocked and open her door, she started calling her name and said “I am nobody, I can’t do anything “, I was shocked on hearing her.
I asked her, where is this coming from, She told me that one of her friends told her that and she believed her because the person was saying the truth.
When you believe lies people are telling you about yourself it makes you start doubting yourself the more. It kills the zeal to keep moving forward. Stand up for yourself and stop being hard on yourself.
Having a positive mindset will help you ignore the negative voices inside or outside. Whether it comes from yourself, your parents, your bosses, friends, and even social media.
Your Self-esteem will be boosted, your relationship with others will change for the better. You will also learn to appreciate yourself more. Appreciating yourself lets you learn, improve, succeed, and mostly, lets you live longer.
When the voice you hear often is positive, the negative ones won’t put you down as much.
To paint a simple analogy: A friend of mine who ate one food every day of his life believed his fatigue and brain fog were normal.
It wasn’t until he changed his diet to include other meals and whole foods that his tiredness disappeared, also improving his health.
What I am really saying is: If we keep looking through a dusty window and believe the world is brownish, it becomes our only reference point. It is when we clean or changes our filter that we realize we had it all wrong.
So, stop overly criticizing yourself, you have to start thinking positively. Cut yourself some slack and grow from your past mistakes. Expect some from those around you, mistakes do happen and no one is perfect.
Deciding to stop being tough on ourselves, is a good way to change our everyday situations. And learn to be at peace with whom we really are.
That’s why the saying “As within, so without.” is paramount to living.
The inner critic is not you—it is a created persona. Your mind is the only thing you hear at all times, so you have to make it a positive one.
Improve and support yourself, praise your attempts. When you do all these, you’ll find that you are achieving more and becoming happier.
The best way to stop criticizing yourself is by accepting the entirety of yourself- your imperfections, perfections, wins, losses, and failures. Listen to your inner voice. Believe in your capabilities and the power you possess. And very importantly, be grateful.