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Articles

Self Criticism

Why do we consent to the standards we are being judged by? Even if they are our own?

Take a day, not just a moment, but a day, and reflect on how often you criticize yourself. Take note of the tone and quality of these judgments. Then, take a seat and externalize that voice and ask yourself how you would respond if anyone else were to criticize you that way. Once you've completed your reflection of self-criticisms, you will likely have a list that looks and sounds more like an indictment than harmless observations.  Perhaps you also have a list of responses to these indictments. Statements designed to challenge the self-hatred that inundates your daily narrative.

And if you don’t, you could try to do just that. Our challenge to you is simple: Don't stop there. Don't simply challenge your self-hatred:

Understand your relationship to it.

Find out why you need it.

This is how the tired rhetoric of the self-esteem movement ought to go: not just to ask the question:

Do we love ourselves or what do we love about ourselves? , rather:

How do we mediate the ongoing battle of love and hate within ourselves?

If we chose to learn anything at all from such an exercise, it may be that we tend to fall back on self-criticism when our own spontaneous, native creativity becomes overwhelmed or exhausted. When we lose sight of our motivations, we may feel that we are on “auto-pilot”, without any consideration of why we do the things we do. In these times, we are usually very skilled at telling ourselves what we should or should not have done, and we are less likely to respect the origins of our decisions. In short, we lose our compassion for ourselves.

It is an efficient but most unfortunate regressive process and one that we may tend to relinquish ourselves to in times of profound stress or after prolonged periods of creative output.

What we may become familiar with is that our self-consciousness obscures self-knowledge. We slap our own proverbial hand but we may fail to explore what's in the cookie jar and why we want it. Our goal could be to truly know those parts of ourselves and that cannot be accomplished if they are abruptly dismissed and swept away by positive reframes.

We challenge you to embrace this knowledge of yourself. Gain a deeper understanding of why you need such self-criticism. Get to know the parts of you that demand self-criticism and, ultimately, ask yourself what do you risk letting go of if you were to let go of the critical relationship with your Self.

Dr. K.M.Harding 2018

“We are never so much disposed to quarrel with others as when we are dissatisfied with ourselves.”

― William Hazlitt

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