Life is plenty challenging all on its own, but this challenge is magnified for those of us who have internal critics. Sometimes it can feel like there’s no pleasing the internal critic. If you got a 90 on the test, the critic demands to know why you didn’t get a 95. We may know we messed up on a task but that’s not good enough for the internal critic, either. Not at all! Our internal critic may go into excruciating detail in all the ways we messed up and how this will come back to bite us. Or perhaps that critic reminds us of all the other times we messed up or failed. The internal critic can be overwhelming and demoralizing– and that’s the exact opposite of what the internal critic is often trying to do. Believe it or not, the internal critic thinks it is helping you. The internal critic may think it is motivating you to perform better than you would otherwise. Or the internal critic may believe that it is protecting you from specific dangers or reminding you about past failures so you don’t repeat them.
Whatever the case, I’m willing to bet that many of us have internal critics that are far harsher towards ourselves than toward anyone else. My guess is that many people would never criticize others the way they criticize and beat up on themselves.
If you would like your internal critic to tone it down but are afraid that you would lose some motivation or edge that it provides you, you might be interested to know that research shows that self-compassion is a better motivator than criticism. When we approach ourselves from a perspective of self-compassion rather than criticism, we are likely to accomplish more because we don’t have to fear the consequences of failure. In other words, the internal critic is likely to keep us from taking some risks because we’re afraid of the harsh judgments we will receive if we don’t succeed.
Would you like to learn how to replace the harsh internal critic with a supportive and understanding voice? It takes some practice, but it can be done. I invite you to schedule an appointment through the client portal or by calling me at (816) 226-4678.