Your Own Worst Critic

   Written by on March 24, 2016 at 10:58 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Do you respect yourself and your abilities?  An easy way to answer this question is to listen to the soundtrack you are playing about yourself.  Take a minute and listen as you describe yourself, listen to how you narrate the stories you tell yourself every day.  What is your internal dialogue saying about your abilities, achievements, and your relationships?  On a scale of 1 to 10, one being you are saying very negative about things and 10 being you are describing yourself using positive, supportive words, how do you rank your internal self-esteem?

Now you have defined your level of self-esteem from low of 1 to a high of 10.  Ok, you may be asking why this is so important.  The answer is because the way you look at yourself, your self-esteem plays a major role in your emotional health.  We all tend to underestimate the role and effect of our self-esteem.  Low self-esteem creates an inner negative critic that can really get in the way of achieving goals.  Dispelling the clouds of low self-esteem requires the cultivation of self-compassion.  However, to find that compassion, we must first recognize and understand the problem of low self-esteem.

Many of us are not aware of this internal dialogue much less its negative effect.  We can become so self-critical that we take responsibility for actions outside of our control or convince ourselves we can’t accomplish anything.  The effect is overwhelming and can lead to a downward spiral resulting in depression and anxiety.

Research indicates that low self-esteem can cause significant health and emotional problems.  Several research studies have found that low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression and it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.  These statistics indicate why it is important to understand low self-esteem and its effects.

Low self-esteem can significantly get in the way of everyday functioning.  If we don’t feel confident in our abilities or ourselves, that can influence our family lives as well as our performance at work and school.  People with lower levels of self-esteem not only react to rejection with increased negative self-appraisals and self-blame, but also have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Ultimately, low self-esteem can grow into shame: Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are significantly flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.  Harmful low self-esteem and shame can lead to us feeling we a bad person and we are not deserving of love.  Although these feelings can be incredibly painful, we must learn to recognize the internal dialogue that supports these feelings before we can work through these feelings.  For example, if you are telling yourself you are unworthy of acceptance, how can you learn to accept and make sense of your emotions?

Self-acceptance is not easy, particularly if you are stuck in a cycle of self-blame and harsh criticism.  You may be telling yourself you don’t deserve help.  If that is your internal soundtrack, your soundtrack may be stopping you from getting the help you need.

You need to know that you are not alone, that the struggle for self-acceptance is part of the human condition.  Even having grown up and been educated in Pharaoh’s court, Moses did not accept he had the ability to speak well enough to represent the Israelites’ case to Pharaoh.  The Bible tells us he argued with God about his ability.  Moses did not want to follow God’s plan because of his low self-esteem.

Next week we will look at self-compassion as a way of overcoming harmful low self-esteem.  In the meantime, let the wonder of God’s perspective soak in.

We are… Wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), Precious to God (Isaiah 43:4), Cared about since conception (Isaiah 46:3), God’s child (John 1:12), Jesus’ friend (John 15:15), Chosen by Jesus (John 15:16), Loved dearly by God (John 16:27), Free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), A dwelling place (1 Corinthians 3:16), Forgiven (Colossians 1:14).

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Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at Discovery Counseling in Farmville with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637. 

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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