Self-reflection is an important attribute in living our lives. Of course, it’s important to be as objective as possible and to also know one’s limits. Too much self-reflection sometimes leads to awakening the inner critic.
Like plenty of people, I’m my own biggest critic. Before anyone has had the chance to praise or denigrate me, I’ve already mentally drawn up a full outline that enumerates what is wrong with an action or words I’ve said. Then I realize that I’m criticizing myself worse than an enemy could. I would never degrade anyone else the way I can insult myself.
Eventually, I snap out of the inner critic mode and have a good laugh. As long as I live, I’ll be living with me; and I don’t want to be partners with anyone who is so critical. When I let the critic know he has crossed the Rubicon, he usually backs down. I then try to shift my thoughts towards remembering some of the good things I’ve said and done.
When the inner critic is having his way, he strongly voices his doubts about my abilities. Clearly, there is an element of self-destructiveness at play. The critic usually appears when I need to make a decision or have already made a decision. He manifests during conscious, positive self-reflection while I evaluate past learning experiences.
When I stumble upon an unresolved past regret, the inner critic makes his move. urging me to purge the regret once and for all. The critic nags on and on until I accept closure about what I cannot change. My period of contemplation and reflection continues to drift towards a better understanding of the universal nature of human flaws and mistakes.
I remember again that my self-criticism is much harsher than anything my chief adversary could give. I also remember that the flubs I’ve kept secret from others, are really insignificant. Most people couldn’t care less about what happens in my life; and that’s a good thing.
The inner critic does perform a positive role. He appears as a wake-up call to remind me that I’m far from perfect and that there is plenty of room for improvement. In a backhanded manner, he is sending a message to attend to a higher purpose. He’s prodding me to stop dithering and that I just need to step up my game and not try to play it safe. When that realization occurs, the inner critic shuts up.
In the end, the inner critic is just another aspect of my mind. I can take what he says in stride by acknowledging his fears and hangups. Then by focusing on the goal, I assure the self-critic that everything will be OK, regardless of outcome. This enables realistic, positivity about what is possible.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the Romanian-French Avant-garde playwright, Eugène Ionesco. “The critic should describe, and not prescribe.”