By Julia Mines – iCN Journalist (USA)

In the west, we almost uniformly believe that being self-critical will make us work harder, perform better, and turn us into a much-improved people. But what the scientific data show is that judging ourselves harshly and beating up on ourselves actually makes us weaker in the face of failure, more emotionally reactive, and less likely to get the lessons we need to learn from our failures. We increase our levels of stress, anxiety, shame, and depression. These then position us for a second tier of suffering: feeling isolated from others, feeling insecure or inadequate. Never mind the disturbed sleep, poor concentration, and less-than-stellar coping strategies, from binge eating to excessive drinking. Ack.

Imagine telling a child, “You’re such a loser.” Or raging at a friend, “you’re a stupid jerk.” Most of us don’t behave that way and intuitively understand why: it’s psychologically harmful and does not lead to lasting change. And yet, we would not hesitate to talk to ourselves that way.

But consider this: Our brain cannot distinguish between an external threat and our own self-critical voice. When we talk trash to ourselves, we become both the attacker and the attacked.

Source: iCN Issue 13 (Wellness & Holistic Coaching); pages 20-22

About Julia Mines

iCN Journalist for USA. Drawing on 20-plus years of experience in communications as a writer, broadcaster, and educator, this coach and consultant enjoys a reputation for her creativity, humour, and warmth in helping individuals improve their performance and achieve their goals. Trained and certified in positive psychology through Tal Ben-Shahar of Harvard and The Whole Being Institute. ICF certified through Positive Acorn with Robert Biswas-Diener. Julia gives workshops, presentations, and works one-on-one with individuals to help them improve performance and achieve their goals.