If you listen to your inner monologue, you might be surprised at how self-critical you are. Most people are highly self-critical. We elaborate on our flaws and we distrust our innate worthiness.
“You’re probably going to fail and if you do, people won’t love you.” That’s an unconscious mantra many of us carry.
When we consciously listen to the inner critic, we often notice that the inner voice can be mean. It’s crafty. It knows how to paralyze us.
I used to strategize around self-criticism. I’d try and ignore it or I’d slap it into submission, using prayer and positive affirmations on steroids. Ignoring self-criticism is a lot like ignoring the sound of a rat chewing on the electrical wires in your home. It will catch up with you eventually. And slapping the inner critic into submission becomes an advanced form of self-criticism, Criticism 2.0.
Self-criticism cannot be healed by ignoring the critic. It cannot be healed by criticizing the critic.
Lately I’ve learned to observe the sadness of self-criticism. I see how I treat myself worse than I treat other people. I hear how I speak to myself with disrespect. And that’s sad – but it doesn’t have to be.
When I lean into the sadness of the inner critic something transforms. I don’t need to figure out how I got so critical. I don’t need to fix anything. I simply hold the tension of sadness, honoring it as part of the human condition. There, I can see that sadness feels sad in contrast to the “better” that beckons me. In the willingness, in the contrast, something is born anew. It feels like compassion.
Can you lean into the sadness of self-criticism and find compassion?