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The Critic

The Critic

“It looks like you really screwed that up. Again. Just further proof that you can’t cut it. Maybe save yourself the embarrassment and quit now?”  What?!  Who said that?!  Well, you did - to yourself! If not exactly this, then some form of it. How does it feel?  Are you motivated to take on the challenges of the day and be as successful as possible? 

“It looks like in the big picture, this piece fell flat. We can’t be excellent all of the time! I can’t wait to see what else you can do that blows this away!” How does it feel to say that instead?  Is it any less accurate? It feels wrong because it’s unfamiliar. 

Of the above two scenarios, which words motivate you to reach your highest potential if the words came from someone else? It’s no different if you say them to yourself. 

Why do we do it? 

We all have something called “self-talk”, the persistent mental flow of words to ourselves. Many of us are taught to disregard or repress what we hear from ourselves. Much of the time it is unnoticed. We believe it to be the whole truth, or that without it, there would be nothing to motivate us to better ourselves. 

Why is self compassion important? 

Studies have shown that people with high self-compassion are more motivated to achieve high standards than those with low self-compassion.  In addition, they are happier and more motivating and compassionate towards others.

How do we fix it? 

Therapy regarding compassion centers around the concept that we are all flawed, that we all make mistakes, that we all fail - and yet we continue on. Learning to be an inner ally instead of an inner critic starts with recognizing when you are being the critic.  It involves not talking to ourselves in a way that we wouldn’t let someone talk to our best friend, or to a child. Yes, it involves talking back!  It also involves replacing the harshness with equally valid counter-thoughts that are helpful and positive. So three steps: 1. Recognize when it’s happening 2. Telling yourself to stop, or talking back at the critic, and 3. Replace the thoughts with believable counter-thoughts. Step 3 is the hard part, and may require the assistance of a therapist. 

Why is it worth it to work on self-compassion? 

Self compassion is a source of inner strength and is a powerful motivator as opposed to undermining self-confidence and increasing fear of failure with negative self-talk.

Low self-compassion can interfere with progress in all other areas, including the benefits of therapy. This is why it is a great starting point on your journey towards better mental health!

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