Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

How self-criticism works

Here’s a great story I came across recently about self-criticism and the negative inner voice (in our head)..

A teacher came into her class and wrote the following on the board…

9×1= 7

9×2= 18

9×3= 27

9×4= 36

9×5= 45

9×6= 54

9×7= 63

9×8= 72

9×9= 81

9×10= 90

When she was done, she looked to the students and they were ALL laughing at her for getting the first equation wrong.

The teacher let the laughter die down and then said the following:

‘I wrote that first one wrong on purpose because I wanted you to see a real-life example of how your negative inner voice in your head will treat you when you screw up. Self-criticism comes easily to all of us.

I got ONE thing wrong. But I wrote right answer 9 times.

This is how your inner critic will treat you. It will criticise the one wrong thing you do and skip over the million good things you’ve done.’Self-criticism is very selective.

To this day, I still think about this story. And how the lesson is directly applicable to your life.

How many times have you said to yourself:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I can’t believe I’ve just screwed up
  • Why do I keep failing?

But the reality is: your inner critic doesn’t see all the progress you’ve made. Self-criticism comes easier than self-congratulatory talk.

Self-criticism overlooks:

  • All the struggles and hardships you’ve powered through
  • The steps you’ve already taken to work on your personal development
  • The vision you have for your life and success

Like the students in the classroom, it just sees the mistakes.

If you want to grow, those aren’t the voices you should listen to. It’s important to remember that our brain responds to rewards, so when you beat yourself up constantly, there’s an instant link with ‘working towards your dream’ and ‘pain’.

I know this from personal experience since I used to give myself a hard time.

I felt like I wasn’t measuring up or doing enough or achieving as much as my peers.

I’d tell myself that I was stupid, useless, and a thoroughly incompetent, unworthy human being. I’d tell myself pretty bad stuff, to be honest!

I wouldn’t even speak to my worst enemy the same way I was speaking to myself.

It was time to make a change.

It’s been said many times that a lack of self-love is the root of all of our problems, and I agree. Self-criticism is unhelpful, be aware of it and don’t buy into it.

When we take good care of ourselves, nurture ourselves, and accept ourselves completely, stresses seem more manageable, healthy choices are natural, and we feel better within ourselves.

So take a moment today to remind yourself to speak to yourself in a way you’d speak to a friend or a family member you truly care about and want to encourage.

Stop self-criticism and start looking at how far you’ve come instead.

It’s so easy to forget how far we’ve come and instead focus on how far we have to go.

Look back on how much you have achieved so far…and be proud of yourself!

It’s good to aim for bigger and better things, just don’t forget where you started. And most importantly, don’t wait until you reach your goals to be proud- be proud of every step you take!

As always,
Follow your heart and take action
Tim Han ~ Success Insider

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