These two factors often make it difficult for us to view failure as anything other than a stop sign, a signal to give up instead going forward.
Today I would like to discuss a third factor that can add to our discouragement and inclination to give up when things go wrong. That third factor is criticism.
The strange thing about criticism is that when we feel secure in what we are doing, other people’s criticism doesn’t have much, if any, influence over us.
This type of criticism may not feel good to hear, but we can dismiss it fairly easily if it isn’t confirming our own secret suspicions about the value of what we are doing.
Often it is our own inner critic who is most brutally cruel to us, dismissing our efforts and discouraging us from trying again.
Usually that critical voice comes from some time in the past. It could include a repetition of messages we heard from a critical parent, relative or teacher, that we somehow adopted as our own. After all, we were pretty young when we heard most of those messages.
Sometimes those messages warned against things that might not have been safe for us as young children. Anything new, therefore, may possibly to be seen as a threat by our inner critic.
But today, from the viewpoint of our wise inner adult self, it is time to renegociate our relationship with our inner critic. Instead of viewing any failure as a disaster and anything new as unsafe, it is time to ask our inner critic to support us in our efforts.
This new type of support could be in helping us to figure out what went right in what we did and should be kept, and what went wrong and needs to be fixed.
In that way, we can enlist our inner critic to help us use any failure as a stepping stone to a better effort and outcome, instead of as a stop sign preventing us from reaching for our goals and dreams.
This renegotiation may take some time; because, as we all know, little kids can be pretty stubborn about sticking to habits with which they are comfortable.
With loving and supportive patience, our adult self can gradually turn our inner critic into part of our inner support system. Wouldn’t that be lovely!!
Please share any stories you may have about helping your own inner critic grow up.