July 2018 Newsletter
Hello, and a jam-packed July to you!
Are you too self-critical?
Welcome, or welcome back, to my newsletter.
Today's issue is about self-criticism. Is it constructive criticism, or not?
Most of us were trained as youngsters to be alert for our
mistakes, so we could correct them. The teacher made glaring
red marks on our paper in school to highlight our errors to
us. Our parents guided us in learning how to cook or clean or
repair things by pointing out what we were doing wrong,
I hope with gentle re-direction when it was needed and not
harsh criticism. And I'm also hoping we got some praise
when we did things right.
It's been said a child needs ten times as much affirmation and support
as criticism to be well-adjusted, and to have healthy self-confidence.
And it's actually a biological survival instinct to be wary of doing
something wrong. If a child pets a tiger cub in the wild, the mama tiger
could gobble up the child! It's no wonder those of us who are sensitive
and careful can tend to be overly self-critical.
My mother had good intentions for pushing me and pointing out my mistakes. As my
energy healing teacher
often advises, I want to take what was good, namely Mom's high standards and her
desire that I be a good person, and leave the rest behind. What I don't want to bring
forward into the present is what felt like demeaning criticism, especially when
I am usually doing the best I know how to do at the time.
Yet as with any other good habit, we can go overboard and do it to extremes.
When I recognized my own tendency to be self-critical years ago, I asked my
mother why she'd been so hard on me as a child, thinking this is where I'd
learned the behavior. She looked surprised, and
replied that she hadn't wanted me to get a big head! I laughed ruefully to
myself, feeling she had gone too far in the other direction. I was more
likely to think I was doing everything wrong if it wasn't 100 per cent
perfect, than to think I was "all that", like the guy in the cartoon admiring
You've heard the saying "You catch more flies with honey than you do with
vinegar". While I don't want to catch any flies, I do agree that maintaining
a pleasant, even sweet, attitude will get me farther than being sour in my
demeanor and my words. This includes my self-talk. Like the first quote above
advises, I'm now careful how I talk to myself. When I complete something
difficult, or some task I didn't really want to do but needed to, I'll tell
myself "Good job, Nance!", with feeling, like I really mean it.
This always lifts my mood.
Take a moment to check in with yourself. Do you have a strong inner critic? If so,
does this internalized harsh parental or teacher voice feel helpful and supportive,
or does it just make you feel incompetent? I'm training my inner critic to become my inner
cheerleader, praising me for what I do right, and urging me on to accomplish more
when I need motivation. I am able to gently push against my limits when I feel strong
and supported. When I'm criticized it saps what energy I do have.
Think of someone in your life who believed in you, maybe an older sibling or a
favorite sports coach. Can you substitute that voice for your inner critic? Try it
and see how it feels. You can do it! Go, Team!
To read about criticizing myself for my eyesight problems,
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Enjoy the beginning of your July.
I'll write again in a couple of weeks. Take care!