The Inner Critic: Why Do We Say the Most Hurtful Things to Ourselves?
Last week, I found myself face-to-face with my old friend anxiety.
Thankfully I had my fortnightly counselling session on Tuesday. I sat in the chair, explaining my frustration and bewilderment at why I felt this way. Just as I finished letting it all out, I looked at my therapist to see her smiling kindly at me as she gently asked me why I thought I was feeling this way.
As soon as she said the words, I felt a sucker punch to my gut, a lump in my throat and tears I didn’t realise were so close start to pour down my face. This was all to do with my low self-esteem and fear of rejection, something I have been grappling with for a while now.
As I left the session, she reminded me to try and be kind to myself. But later that day, when I had another little cry in my sanctuary, I realised that being kind to myself is something I find so difficult. My inner critic is truly awful.
We are always told to treat others as we wish to be treated, but what about treating ourselves how we wish to be treated?
On Friday, I woke up feeling exhausted, part of it was from a heavy Wednesday night out with my friend but mostly because I was feeling drained from all the thinking. I didn’t have the energy to take myself out for my morning walk but that mean, inner critic was there waiting for me.
I argued that if I felt up to it, I would go out later but it was having none of it. It berated me for never being consistent with anything, told me that I would never feel better if I didn’t get out for my walks and asked, “Are you just going to loaf around all day?”
All of that judgement before 9 am and all of it from me.
I know that if one of my friends said that they were tired and didn’t feel like doing much, I would have said the same thing that the husband said to me. “It’s ok to rest, you need to rest” So why are the words so hard to say to myself? Why don’t I deserve such kindness?
Self-awareness is a step in the right direction and it is positive that I recognise when this is happening but what do I do next? With over another week until my next counselling session, I didn’t want to spend my long weekend arguing with that nasty voice in my head.
I decided to do the opposite of telling myself all of the things I was doing wrong, I was going to remind myself of all of the things I have done right. Every time I was brave, every time I made a big decision, every time I did something difficult, every time I have done something that I am proud of.
Every single positive thing I can think of, no matter how small, is going to be added to this list, which I’m going to keep on my phone so I can easily add to it and easily refer back to it whenever I need to remind myself that I am deserving of good things.