Imagine you gave your inner critic full permission to say whatever the hell it wanted to during your day…
You drop something, “ooh you stupid shit”
You say something in a meeting, and a few people snigger, “ha, see what you’ve done now. You’ve really shown yourself up. They think you’re dumb.”
You don’t say anything in the same meeting, “what’s up with you? Everyone’s looking at you and you just sat there like you’re on mute.”
You go to the toilet and look in the mirror as you wash your hands, “what on earth have you done with your hair?”
You sit on a zoom call, “look how much smarter they look. She’s got great makeup on, what happened to yours? Your nose is too big. Your eyes are wonky.”
You go to apply for a new promotion, “have you seen what they’re asking for on the application, you’ve only got 60% of that. Why bother?”
You go home tired at the end of the day and lose your temper with your kids, “well that was great parenting wasn’t it?”
Seem hard to imagine?
Well, it may or may not surprise you to know that when I asked a group of busy women whether they saw themselves as critical …
93% described themselves as self-critical
67% described themselves as critical of others
These numbers don’t surprise me. I facilitate on a global women’s leadership programme and there’s a palpable group sigh of relief when they share what their critic says to them. One by one they share the phrases their critics use. The other delegates look at them and think, why on earth would you say that to yourself, you’re wonderful. I know this to be true because it consistently gets talked about in the debriefs.
Despite knowing self-criticism is like driving with your foot firmly on the accelerator whilst the handbrake is on, we still do it. Despite all the affirmations and good intentions when the shit hits the fan, we consistently turn on ourselves.
From a lived experience, I’m curious why we continue to do it. And despite knowing how corrosive criticism is to relationship why do we inflict it on others?
One school of thought is it’s habitual. You may have observed parental figures criticising themselves when they made a mistake and simply unconsciously copied that behaviour. Another is that you may have experienced criticism in your upbringing or education and then internalised and simply repeated it.
When it comes to criticising others, there is the view that you do it because you either want to see a change in someone else, you want to vent your feelings or perhaps you want revenge and unconsciously hurt someone because your ego is bruised.
Whatever the reason, criticism is not serving you to be your courageous self, but how do you get beyond it?
Like everything, you start with awareness.
Try this …
- I invite you to track for one day all the things your critic is saying to you.
- Don’t judge or analyse them.
- Simply note them and become aware what words and judgments live underneath that label of being self-critical.
Your mission should you choose to accept it is to create a list of everything it says and what it’s in response to. And if you’re feeling brave, why not share it in the comments below or over on my Facebook page.
Next time we’ll explore life from your inner critic’s perspective and discover what’s really behind it.