where a woman can build her strength and freedom

How can I stop being so self critical?

A dark, dreary scene of three wooden sheds and a bridge in a dark woods reflecting in a pond, representing how self criticism darkens our self reflection.

This is a great question. I bet we all can relate to it. 
We all know what it’s like to be attacked by self criticism. 
We all know how painful it is to be accused of every kind of failure, weakness,
mistake, financial inadequacy, relational incompetence, flaw in our appearance,
on and on and on.

And we have all wished we could get free of these accusations by finding some way
to get the abuse to STOP.

What if?

What if you found out that you are stronger than the source of the attacks? 
What if you began to see how ridiculous and pathetic the attacks actually are? 
What if you began to realize that you do not have to surrender to them?

I think you would see that getting free of self criticism is within your power. 
It’s all about turning the tables. 
And I LOVE turning the tables on a bully, don’t you?

Let’s DO this!

Please know I am not making light of the experience of being attacked by self criticism. 
It is painful and devastating. 
It is like being attacked by a dog and knocked into a ditch.

Let me tell you a story

My mother had a favorite story about me.
She felt it conveyed who I am.
I remember the incident in full color.

I was about four.
Wearing my little red coat,
I am walking along my rural street
heading for my friend’s house.

I see a huge dog up ahead.
It is charging toward me.

As it gets near I see it is brown.
Looks like a boxer or something.

It runs straight at me and leaps!
Hits me full force in the chest,
knocking me into the ditch.

It is biting my left arm above my elbow.
I’m on my back, down below ground level.
I am screaming.

The neighbor lady comes out of her green house
with a broom and beats the dog off me.
I head home screaming and crying.

My mother is there.
She comforts me,
examines my arm (a row of pink tooth marks but no punctures.)
She dries my tears and washes me up.

Whereupon, I put my little red coat back on.
I go back outside.
I pick up a big stick,
and continue down the street.

My mother loved to tell that story.
And I loved to hear it.

So what does this story have to do with self criticism?

Well, you are up against an attack dog. 
One that will charge you in broad daylight
and knock you into the ditch. 
If you will allow it.

Fortunately, there are ways you can begin to prevent any such outcome. 
But you are going to need a big stick, 
so that the attack dog will think twice.

In my story, once I had my stick I saw myself as stronger than the dog. 
But the attacks of self criticism are psychological.
So we will need a psychological stick to stop them.

The power of ridicule

Ridicule is a powerful psychological weapon. 
You may have noticed that attacks of self criticism are based in ridicule: 
“What a loser you are!” “What an ugly face!” “You will never have a partner.”
“No one will ever want a fat slob like you.” “You will be forever alone.”
“You’re an idiot. You’re not smart enough to get a good job.” 
“You’re such a loser, you’re going to still be living in your Mom’s basement
when you’re 50! You are going to rot down there!”

It is time to turn the ridicule back on these sadistic and cruel judgments.

In order to DO that, we first have to expose them. 
We have to identify them. List what they are.

What I will want you to notice is: 
Just by exposing them to the light of day, they lose a great deal of their power.

Why? Because they are absurd. 
The light of day reveals them for what they are: Totally ridiculous. Pathetic.

When you actually see how dumb these accusations are, 
you are going to LAUGH at them! 
You can read them aloud and ridicule them. 
As you do that, they are going to lose their power over you.

Let the attack dog speak

SO, I want you to go and get a sheet of paper or open an online document. 
I want you to write down ALL the accusations you are up against. 
All the horrible judgments being made against you from within your own mind.

Put quotation marks around them! 
Let the attack dog speak, in all its cruelty! 
Don’t stop till you have clearly quoted, in all its glory, every accusation the
mangy cur has ever made against you.

Name that dog

Now, come up with a total put down of a name for this attack dog. 
One that personifies all the vicious charges it makes against you. 
One that ridicules its very existence. 
Not a cute name. This dog is not a pet. 
It is the part of your personality that attempts to destroy your happiness
by attacking your confidence and self respect.

Write your chosen name for this cruel beast at the top of the sheet. 
Some examples to get you started: Sado, Vomit, PukeDog… 
Make it really good!

Draw a picture of his ugly mug. Lots of teeth and slobber.

It’s not you

If you are a glutton for punishment, you will say “That’s me!!!” 
No, it is not you.

This attack dog is not the good strong core of you who has come here
to the golden salon in order to build a life of strength and freedom.

The attack dog is the part of your personality that attempts to defeat your best

You are now exposing just how sadistic this part really is. 
It has no constructive intentions for your life. 
Alas, every human being has this part of their personality, from infancy on.

Some other time, we will look at how and why it developed.

For now, the important thing is… 
You are separating yourself from it

By exposing its accusations to the light of day: 
You are separating yourself from your inner attack dog. 
You are declaring that you do not support its destructive goals. 
You are declaring that it has no power over you

By doing this, you establish that you are stronger than the attack dog. 
You are picking up a stick and going back out.

Are you beginning to see how ridiculous these attacks actually are?

You may, at first, look at the long list of accusations you have written
out and say: But some of this is true! 
Ah, that is how propaganda works.
It takes a few puny facts and builds a whole big false case on them. 
These attacks against you function the same way.

So, let’s say that it is a fact that you are overweight.
Or have few friends.
Or have some other unfortunate limitations at this time.

So what. Is that a capital offense???

The constructive part of your personality

The constructive part of you doesn’t use these facts as weapons.
It doesn’t use them to judge, condemn, torture and destroy you. 
No, the healthy builder in you seeks solutions not judgment!

That is why the golden salon is here: to offer you solutions.

That is why I am here, to be your ally as you build yourself strong and

Your own best friend

The healthy builder is forgiving, not cruel. 
When you recognize a weakness in yourself you say “I need to make a
change in this area so that I will get stronger.” And you do it gently.

You say:
“I need to lose weight. I will find a good way.”
“I am shy. I am going to go out and talk more.”
“I need to get to bed earlier so I can start my day stronger.”

You recognize the things in yourself that you need to change.
This is not self criticism, this is self awareness.

In recognizing and making these changes
you are your own best friend, not your worst enemy.

You do not have to surrender

There is no law that says you EVER have to even LISTEN to any of these attacks. 
And you certainly do not have to surrender.

I stopped listening to them long ago. 
I don’t even get these attacks any more.

It’s kind of like junk food. 
Once you stop surrendering to it, it leaves you alone.

My favorite response

Let me share with you my favorite response to the attack dog. 
Save it for once you have done a significant amount of work to free yourself. 
Then, say it any time the attack dog tries again to undermine your confidence.

Listen calmly, and when you have heard enough, simply ask,
without the slightest emotion: 
”Are you done yet?”

Asking this, you demonstrate that the attack has had zero impact. 
You demonstrate that the attack dog has no more power over you. 
You are bored. 
And you are letting that dog know that it may as well quit.


What was hard about taking these steps?

Were you able to laugh at any point?

Write and tell me.

Dr. Hall