Self-Criticism; Is it Learned or Inherited?

At what point in our lives did we become so self-critical.  Do we learn self-criticism or is it inherent? Why are we so hard on ourselves and so much easier on others? Did we make some huge mistake we have never gotten over? Is it something our mothers once said we should be able to do, or our fathers wanted us to achieve? They didn’t know their words and expectations would stick to our hearts like glue, haunt our souls, and make our heads spin with an image of ourselves we cannot accept.

We are a society that thrives off of adversity, and pointing out these characteristics often starts in early childhood when we begin to highlight the negatives…

“You should be able to do this by now” or “you should be better at”.

These notions all leave little notches in the personality we are trying to carve out. Throughout our lives, we are often singled out for things others perceive as weaknesses. Sometimes even our schools spend more time explaining what your child needs to improve, rather than pointing out and working on the positives.

This can carry over into the work world as well. For example, if someone is not proficient at public speaking, we recommend a book or ship them off to a course to improve that specific skill. However, what if the skill is something that person is simply not good at, regardless of any amount of training or research. Instead, this person who is fantastic at accounting gets judged for being poor at one thing, instead of being praised for what his skills are. Almost everywhere in life, we are pointed in the direction of fixing ourselves. Focusing on the negative becomes predominant, and results in the inner critic who we all deal with at some point in time.

The self-critic is the voice in your head that convinces you that the “could and should haves” from so many years ago still hold the same power. It’s the voice that says you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. It’s quick to point out any mistake or error in judgment and likes to obsess over things that have already occurred. Our inner critic is just flat-out cruel.

We tell our friends and family not to be so hard on themselves, yet we are harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else. We blame ourselves when blame does not apply. We feel guilty about the things we could have done better or differently. Our critic implies that if we try something new, we will fail, which often holds us back from taking the first step. The sad thing is that even when the negatives are balanced with positives, they always seem to leave a deeper emotional imprint.

 If we let the inner-critic maintain power over our minds, we soon become accustomed to the negativity. We then form our thoughts based on the lies it has told us. It’s amazing…the power of the brain to convince us that something feels so real, but is based upon negative untruths. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to silence that critical voice in your head. There is no shortcut to muting that voice; it is a matter of practice and time.

In the meantime, tell it to shut the hell up. Tell it there is no longer any space in your mind for it to occupy. Remind yourself that you are smart enough, pretty enough, and good enough because you are. That voice served its purpose at the time it was needed, but we don’t need it screaming throughout our lives. We want it down to a low murmur.

So try something new. Say what you have always wanted to say. Do what you have wanted to do. Stop letting that poisonous voice of negativity rule your thoughts and actions. Regardless of what that voice says, know that if you fall, you can get back up. You will get back up. You are worthy,

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