My Harshest Critic

Spoiler alert, it’s me.

I just can’t help myself. I’ll quite happily praise someone who I feel deserves it, for whatever reason, but when it comes to myself, it’s much easier to criticize.

Don’t get me wrong, this year has been about personal growth, learning to love myself and to be more positive, so I’m not putting myself down left, right and center anymore. The saying ‘old habits’ die hard’ certainly rings true however, in that it’s a constant battle to quash the negativity that comes more naturally to me.

I know I’m not alone in this. So many people will tell me I’ve done a good job, then in the next breath put themselves down in comparison, even though they’ve done just as well. I sometimes feel it’s almost expected of such a conversation.

It’s an expectation thing. I know I can do great things, I’ve proved that to myself this year. I went from barely being able to run a single kilometer to running 14 in less than two hours. And I was really really proud of that. I lost a lot of weight and discovered a way to manage my mental health, sleeping issues and eczema. I’ve done really well.

So why is it that as soon as I make a mistake, or don’t do quite as well at something as I’d hoped for, that I get annoyed at myself and put myself down?

Take for example the karaoke competition a couple of weeks ago. I got through the first two rounds but not to the final. And that’s okay, because not everyone even made it to the first round. But no, I was annoyed at myself. In my head, not getting through to the third round automatically meant I was a terrible singer, despite my friends who attended, who I can count on to be honest with me, saying otherwise.

I listened to a recording of part of one of my songs the next day and I just about cried. As far as I was concerned, I sounded awful and had no right even being a part of the competition. Of course, it was recorded on my cellphone, so naturally the sound quality wasn’t amazing, but that didn’t matter to me, it meant I was bad.

But a few friends who asked to hear the recording, thought I was pretty good. It took having a cry to Zombie about it and him reminding me that he thought I did well, that it was a cellphone recording and that I was up against some very talented singers (I was, there were some incredible voices in that competition) to snap me out of it. I lost a few hours to self hate though, which was completely unnecessary.

What I should have been focusing on, is the fact that I got through two rounds and that I had fun. I got some good feedback from friends and strangers alike and I got to have a night out, which is something I don’t often do. I said in my post Good Anxiety that I was going into the competition without an expectation of winning, just an aim to have fun. I didn’t realize that I still had expectations on myself to get through to the final five. 

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I am my own worst critic. I subconsciously expect too much of myself and when I can’t exceed those expectations, I get upset at myself, which is a complete waste of time. Even now as I write this, I’m realizing that I’ve done it in that last sentence, where I mention wasting time. I’ve put a negative spin on something that I do, as opposed to learning from it.

One of my Ten Goals for the year, is to Be Grateful and Stay Happy. I think it might be time to make some more effort in this department. I’m not saying that I’ve failed, I’ve certainly had my happiest and most appreciative year in a long time, I’d just like to make it more consistent. I think a good place to start will be by being kinder to myself. It’s hard to be happy when someone is being mean to you all the time.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

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4 thoughts on “My Harshest Critic

  1. Thank you for this so important reminder, it is so easy to forget for me to maintain “a constant battle to quash the negativity that comes more naturally to me.” I remember one therapist many moons ago who after a few sessions read from a list (yes he had an actual list) of the six or seven issues I needed to confront. I have forgotten exactly what each one was (just that I agreed with the assessment) except for the last one: “you’re a perfectionist.” Whoa. That’s not me, I thought, but later I realized it was true, it was just that I was a depressed perfectionist: Things have to be done perfectly, but since that obviously impossible, there is no point of even trying.” Consequently I did nothing.

    My most intense expectations I placed on myself. The example I like to use, which almost always getting people shaking their head in disbelief, is my refusal to use a to-do list. In my mind’s eye it was a sign of weakness: I should just know what I need to do next. Even now as I think about this one, I still view joining the rest of the world by doing a to-do list as a lowering of expectations, rather than embracing a healthy, realistic expectation of myself.

    The other thing that popped into my head as I read your post is I experience that moment of self-reproach saturation, as if I was nothing but wagging finger at myself. This, unfortunately, is when I, to satisfy the compulsion to criticize, turn on others around me, placing the unrealistic expectations I have for myself onto them.

    Thanks again for your wise thoughts in this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the comment, I completely understand where you are coming from. It’s really hard to change habits, mostly because of our way of thinking about them. I found your thoughts on to-do lists interesting. I don’t really make them myself, but I used to feel the same way about goal setting and writing them down. This year is the first year I’ve had goals and I wrote them all down. I always thought that doing so would be setting myself up for failure and I haven’t managed to stick to all of my goals, but, I have completed several of them and am on my way for others. One day at a time friend ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You have such a strong understanding of yourself, that I am certain you will go on making slow but steady progress toward being the person you want to be, which is harder to do now because you have already changed in so many good ways. PS: You look wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

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