Tag Archives: self-critical

Perfection Is Highly Overrated!


Relinquish the need to be perfect. Effort is perfection.

Imagine a roomful of babies all trying to perfect the skill of walking. What we witness is a lot of bumping into things and falling down. We don’t expect babies to get it right immediately—we don’t scold them for failing in their attempts. No. Instead, we’re warmly amused by the sight. So why are we hard on ourselves and each other for not getting it right? Babies need practice. So do we.

This is what I explained to Lorena, 24, who has a tendency to judge herself for being imperfect. She has judged herself for things like making mistakes on her new job,  not following her diet faithfully, and for getting less than an A in her classes at college.


I gave her some strange advice: “If you get a C, regard it as a victory.”

Confusion was written all over her face.

“I say that because for you, an A is intimately connected to self-acceptance. It will mean progress for you when you feel self-acceptance no matter what—even when you’re less than perfect.”

Not long ago, Lorena gave me an update on her progress. She had written a report for school and instead of obsessively perfecting it “I told myself it was good enough.” For Lorena, that’s progress. 

 good enough


Filed under Client of the Week, Contemplations, Get Free

The Latest Wow: Fire Your Inner Critic!

Use words wisely I had a client tell me once:

“Every time I put myself down, I’m affirming that my mother was right.”

Click here to read about Dawn and Doug and how their childhoods were fertile soil for the formation of negative self-talk and low self-worth.

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Filed under Get Free, Parenting, The Latest Wow!

Getting Naked

We all carry around our share of shame-debris.

That is, unless we grew up in a perfect environment with perfect parents, perfect siblings, perfect everybody, or—let’s face it—planted on a perfect planet.

Recently, I discovered a video where Brené Brown makes us feel pretty normal about our shame. She also makes us feel normal about our fear of appearing vulnerable to others.

In our culture, we tend to idolize the John Wayne-cool-tough-and-numb look—mischaracterizing it as strength. But Brené elevates vulnerability to a strength: “Vulnerability is not weakness,” in fact, “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

If you watch the video, you’ll soon see, as I have, that Brené has the courage to get naked. She’s my new role model.


Filed under General Interest, Get Free

Any time you’re cutting yourself down, you’re wrong.

We should always have an understanding heart toward ourselves.

Self-criticism is learned—we don’t come out of the womb with that tendency. I’m talking about the self-esteem-destroying self-talk that buzzes around in one’s head endlessly. Like a virus that invades the brain, it constantly judges and condemns its host.

Infection takes hold early in childhood after repeated exposure to pathogens like belittling comments, looks of contempt, and ridicule. What happens is we start to believe what the virus is saying. It tells us such things as we’re bad for messing up, selfish for wanting something, cowardly for being cautious, mean for speaking up, weak for crying, and that we’re a failure for losing.

Daniel Gottlieb, one of my favorite authors, wrote in his book Learning from the Heart:

“Most of us have a part of our brain that observes our own behavior. But the observers lodged in our brains are neither objective nor compassionate. They’re more likely to be judgmental, always reminding us that we are not good enough. And so we criticize ourselves, judge ourselves, work harder, sleep less, or push our loved ones more . . . all in an effort to somehow be okay.”

What’s really sad is we give the virus more credibility than the nicer treatment and messages we receive from kind-hearted people. Their messages are seen as unreal and unbelievable.

The good news is that the virus can be annihilated. We can unlearn self-criticism.

Sophia—a client in her 20’s—is a good example. She began the process of unlearning by becoming aware of the constant babble of negative self-talk occurring in her head. Before that, she accepted it as a valid part of herself—it seemed to belong.

That’s all changed. Acting as her own ever-vigilant investigator, she’s determined to root out and destroy any belittling thoughts that rob her of self-esteem and joy in her life. How are they destroyed? By questioning the validity of any thoughts that tell her she’s defective, guilty, bad or inferior in any way. Increasingly, she’s the master of her opinions about herself, not her conditioned brain.

I’m proud of her!

Names used in this post are changed to honor client confidentiality.


Filed under Client of the Week, Get Free