7 Ruthless Truths About Your Inner Critic and the Realities of Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is pathetic when it affirms failure. On the other hand, your inner critic is a heartless jerk that lowers performance.
7 ruthless truths about your inner critic:
#1. Your inner critic hates you. She’s not interested in your best. She’s interested in using failure against you.
#2. Your inner critic is right. You did screw up or fall short.
High standards are useful until they become bullies.
#3. Your inner critic wants you to believe you ARE your failures or successes.
Distinguishing between your person and results is the path to courage, learning, and beginning again.
#4. Your inner critic magnifies the bad and marginalizes the good.
#5. Your inner critic is a people pleaser.
Inner critics feed on the approval of others and cower at disapproval.
#6. Your inner critic makes you dread next time. He cheers when you quit and then calls you a loser.
#7. Your inner critic’s favorite expressions:
- Don’t do that again.
- If you can’t do it right, don’t try.
- They’re judging you.
- You’re not good enough.
- Look at that successful leader. Why can’t you be like that?
#1. Failure is undesirable.
Self-compassion that minimizes failure demeans potential.
It’s absurd to think failure doesn’t matter. Even during innovation, failure is a point of learning, not an end to be sought.
#2. Improvement requires self-assessment. (But your inner critic uses it against you.)
#3. Self-acceptance gives the power to improve.
People with high self-esteem reject the idea they need to improve. They can’t accept that they’re average.
Anyone who casually affirms failure requires confrontation. (In this case, confrontation is compassion.)
Improvement includes accepting weakness, falling short, and failure.
You can’t improve what you refuse to accept.
#4. Practice healthy self-compassion.
#5. Turn toward the future.
Your inner critic wallows in the past and squanders the future.
The question is, “What will you do differently next time?”
How might leaders navigate a loud inner critic?
What role might self-compassion have in successful leadership?
Taming Your Gremlins (Amazon)
“It’s absurd to think failure doesn’t matter. Even during innovation, failure is a point of learning, not an end to be sought.”
Thanks Jody. Good seeing you here this morning.
Hello Dan…thanks. I have a tendency to give away my power to my inner critic, allowing it to drive my thinking. Sometimes it does not want to leave the car when I stop to let it out.
I am working hard on accepting what the future looks like, in spite of what I want it to look like, in order to improve.
This is a very timely post for me. I appreciate reading this today.
Thanks WP. I don’t personally know anyone who is exempt for a negative voice in their head. As time passes, I think the voice quiets a bit. For me, my inner critic is a little quieter because I’ve accepted who I am a little more than when I was young.
I wish you well for the journey.
I love your blog usually btw but why is your inner-critic female?!
Hi Katie. Thanks for noticing the female voice. I had intended to switch to male later in the post, but didn’t. I went back and added a “he”.
For some reason, it seemed the personal pronoun was better than using ‘it’ for the inner critic.
Thanks Dan for the change – I’m becoming more militant with age!
Excellent post, Dan! I was just having some of this conversation with my son as he is attending college and experiencing some failure. We are trying to help him recover and move forward without beating himself up with negative self-talk. Your statement “Your inner critic wallows in the past and squanders the future” is spot on! Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Greg. Your son is fortunate to have wise parents. Best wishes to you and the boy. 🙂
By the way, this post was motivated by a conversation I had with a high performing college student who has a loud inner critic.
A slight twist on inner critic is self-doubt. I’m working on understanding self doubt, so your post has a lot of meaning for me today. Every weakness has a flip side. My occasional impatient behavior leads me to driving for a solution and get stuff done. When self-doubt is appropriate it leads me to learn something new or to get help on a project. When it is inappropriate, I fret and question my abilities.
I really appreciate this post today!
Thanks Rich. Very interesting connection. I hadn’t thought about self-doubt in the context of our inner critic. You opened a new channel of discovery.
And if we define failure as “unintended impact,” what becomes possible?
Our saboteur sees failure as a reflection of our identity. Our sage sees it as an opportunity, a gift that invites us to develop knowledge and try new ways of doing things.
Personally, I don’t think our inner critic hates us. I think s/he’s scared to death and wants to protect us from humiliation and other pain. Unfortunately, s/he also curbs our potential by limiting learning and growth. She operates from a fixed mindset.
I must take exception with the notion “People with high self-esteem reject the idea they need to improve. They can’t accept that they’re average.” That’s low self-esteem masquerading defensively.
I agree with Kim on all of the above!
I wonder if that is a typo regarding high self esteem because I like her think that is low self-esteem acting defensively.
Allow me to ad that I love Dan’s posts. They are so spot on and provide effective tools
Thanks Ron. Perhaps my response to Kim is food for thought. In either case, I’m thankful for the conversation. Best.
Thanks for joining in today, Kim. You bring up the use of sage vs saboteur. The contrast is useful. The first time I heard the contrast was from the author of Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. https://leadershipfreak.blog/2012/06/06/the-most-powerful-thing-about-you/
Years ago I also wrote about disarming the inner critic, based on Shirzad’s book and our conversations: https://leadershipfreak.blog/2012/06/07/how-to-disarm-your-inner-critic/
Whether the inner critic hates us or is just scared to death, I think we’ll agree that the effect is detrimental.
Regarding self-esteem: The self-esteem movement has in many ways been debunked. Children raised to have high self-esteem lean toward entitlement and unethical behavior. They desire special treatment and feel it’s OK to advantage themselves at the disadvantage of others.
Teaching people to feel good about themselves apart from confirming behaviors might feel good but it’s detrimental to their development.
The difference between self-esteem and self-worth or self-acceptance is an important difference.
I’ll leave the research for your consideration. The “average statement” links directly to: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_five_myths_of_self_compassion
I heard Jamie Clarke speak about his trials and tribulations scaling Mount Everest many, many years ago and something he said has stayed with me over all those years. Something like: “The first two times I did not succeed getting to the top of Mount Everest were not failures because I learned new things that would make my next trip better.” He finally reached his goal and the summit on his third time. That really resonated with me basically a “you learn from your mistakes” philosophy which we all have heard more than once in our lifetime; Jamie gave concrete examples and it was fascinating to hear.
Thanks for sharing Julie. Much appreciated. It seems that learning from failure is the only useful approach to failure. Of course we never intentionally choose failure, but when we don’t achieve our goals, learning and trying again is what matters.
I tell teachers in training, students and their hovering parents that if you already knew how to…then None of us wouldn’t need to be here. Our society doesn’t want students to “feel bad”. Educators don’t take the time to teach failing. Any good biography will not skip over the struggle(s) that occurred before the success.
Learning includes failing, trying and trying and perhaps trying many times!
Students-learners of any age need to be taught that intentionally.
Great topic and a timely one as a grad student who is struggling at the end of the semester. I have a loud and intrusive inner critic. I have spent years trying to get rid of that voice. There are some excellent points and ideas in this post!
Pingback: 7 Ways to Succeed at Forgetting - Leadership Freak
Pingback: 7 Ways to Succeed at Forgetting - Jeff Cassman