Am I good enough yet?

 "Many of the common psychological problems in this current era are due to the virulence of the inner critic. We live in a culture and at a time in history when being truly human is not enough; we must all be more or better. For the most part, we are not encouraged to look at ourselves objectively, take stock of what we see and realistically take stock of what we see and realistically set about living our lives in harmony with the deepest needs of our innermost being. Instead, we must continually improve upon ourselves. This provides fertile ground for the growth of the inner critic" - (Hal & Sidra Stone - Embracing your inner critic) 


Each of us harbours a harsh internal monologue, a voice that scrutinises our every action, highlighting our faults and questioning our competence. This voice, often perceived as a relentless judge named the inner critic, scrutinises us without respite, making us wonder about our own value. Though it's commonly viewed in a negative light, it's crucial to acknowledge the underlying purpose of this inner critic. It's not solely a source of negativity; rather, it acts as a guardian attempting to protect us in often outdated ways. 

The inner critic helps protect us in different ways, though it might not always feel helpful. It makes us afraid of failing by pointing out what could go wrong, keeping us from taking chances. At the same time, it tries to help us feel good about ourselves by pushing us to do well and achieve our goals. It also wants us to fit in with others by making sure we act in ways that everyone else thinks are okay, which helps us avoid being left out. And sometimes, it's there to stop us from getting hurt emotionally by steering us away from things that have made us sad or scared before. So, in its own complicated way, the inner critic is trying to look out for us.

From inner criticism to self-compassion 

I see the journey of healing the inner critic as connecting to self-compassion, transforming its negativity into kindness and self-understanding. Here's how:

Start paying attention:

Notice when that critical inner voice starts talking, and pay attention to what it's saying without making any judgments. Begin to listen to the inner critic with some objectivity. 

Question its truth:

Look for real evidence that contradicts what it's telling you and try to see your skills and potential in a more realistic light.

Embrace imperfection:

Understand that everyone makes mistakes and that they're part of growing and learning. Accepting your flaws can help you grow

Reparenting the inner critic:

This is a journey of moving from a place of criticism to one of self-compassion. This transformative process often in therapy invites you on a healing journey, where you learn to replace self-judgment with self-compassion and understanding, fostering a more positive inner dialogue over time

Practice compassionate affirmations:

here are some ideas below: 

  • "I choose to speak to myself with kindness and understanding."
  • "Mistakes are not failures; they are stepping stones to learning and growth."
  • "I release the need for self-judgment. I am doing my best, and that is enough."
  • "I am worthy of love and respect, regardless of my imperfections."
  • "I celebrate my progress, no matter how small it may seem."
  • "I am learning to replace criticism with curiosity about how I can evolve."
  • "I honour my journey and appreciate where I am right now."

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bedford MK40 & London N1
Written by Emma-Jayne Hirst, MA Psychology, Dip, MBACP |
Bedford MK40 & London N1

Emma-Jayne Hirst (MA Psych, Dip Couns, MBACP)

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