Mental Health

Your Own Worst Critic or Your Own Best Friend

You’re useless! Stop being such a pathetic coward. Grow up, don’t be such a baby. Idiot! Why did you say that? Now everyone knows how stupid you are. You can’t do anything right! I don’t even know why you bother to try! Just be quiet and stop annoying everyone.

Does this sound like something you would say to somebody? I’d like to presume answer is no (if it’s not, we can’t be friends). The words are cruel, vile and unnecessary and the thought of saying something like this to another person is vulgar. Yet, I’ve been guilty of saying these words many times over in the past and still do from time to time – not to anyone else, that’s unimaginable, but to myself.

To judge ourselves harshly, to berate and loathe ourselves seems to be socially acceptable and an ugly part of human nature. We seem to somehow justify it. It’s as if it’s okay to treat ourselves in this awful way, a way in which we would never dream of treating another living being.

I really think we need to start being a lot kinder to ourselves, to show patience and compassion. To realise that it’s okay to be scared, unsure, weak, tired and falible to – that’s part of being human. Nobody expects us to be perfect, so why on earth do we expect this of ourselves. Setting such unachievable standards is a guaranteed road to failure. Putting so much pressure on ourselves is what leads to the self loathing when we don’t live up to our own expectations. We feel so angry when we think of our own inadequacy that the only emotions we can feel are bad ones.

It’s one of those vicious circles that keep us spiralling downward. The worse we feel the more we hate ourselves, the more we hate ourselves the worse we feel, until eventually we are a blithering wreck with no confidence or drive.

So what if instead we try to talk to ourselves as if we were talking to a friend, or better yet the child version of us? Would you really want to make a child feel so worthless, sad and scared? Of course not, only a sociopath would want to bully a child.

What if we were to carry around a picture of the little version of us, either in our head or as a photograph on our phone, and look at that picture every time we start telling ourselves we aren’t good enough and imagine what we’d say to that child instead? In our heart, aren’t we all just the child version of ourself, trying desperately to get through this crazy life unscathed?

Perhaps it’s time we came to our own defence? To stand up against the part of us that is quick to bite, to judge and to scold and instead to say, “It’s okay, you did your best and your best is good enough – and I love you little one, you’re doing fine”.

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