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  1. #11
    Senior Member INTJMom's Avatar
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    I used to be extremely self-critical, too, and I'm sure I still am to a certain degree. I have been working on it for years. For me, it comes down to figuring out what messages are being replayed in my head that I am not consciously aware of, i.e. the messages I received from my critical mother, the lies I believe because I am a perfectionist, etc. Once I isolate one, I work on it.

    About 10 years ago, I was having a hard time buying my mother a Mother's Day card and suddenly realized it was because we didn't really have a good relationship. The more I thought about it over a few days or a week's time, memories came flooding back to me of how my mother verbally abused me and stripped me of my personhood. I went to the library and got some books that talked about healing from anger issues. Facing Shame by Fossum and Mason was an excellent help at that time. I went through the books, took notes, journaled about my memories and feelings, cried about it, and then one night, as I was crying and praying, I felt an actual emotional transaction in my soul. I was "divorced" from my mother. Sorry. That's the best way to describe it. I had come to the realization that my mother was not the kind of person whose good opinion I really needed to earn anyway, since she and I are so diametrically opposed on so many issues. That day, a great change in me occurred, and even though I didn't tell my husband about it, he automatically could tell I was different. It was a major turning point in my life. The damage my mother did was very great and I had another significant breakthrough less than a year ago.

    As I heal from the hurts in my heart, I am able to better accept myself the way I am. I can laugh at myself and not take myself so seriously all the time. I'm a lot happier.

    Anyway, that's how I do it. I wish you good success.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    INTJMOM. You hit it! *Applause*

    Shame. It's a misunderstood concept. But if you have been raised in an atmosphere of punishment for your errors you're probably carrying a great deal of shame-based notions and behavior about with you daily.

    Learning to recognize shame and how it affects you is a handy-dandy thing to learn in order to raise yourself above the ugly childhood stuff.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  3. #13
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    I try to put what is thought into less negative terms. For example the thought:
    "I'll never learn this new skill! I am too stupid!"

    I try to take that and see the truth behind the extremism. The truth is that I am learning a new skill that I know little about, the worry therefore is that I am not going to take it seriously enough to learn all that I need to learn to master it, so I tell myself to relax, that I am going to take it seriously and I am going to take it one step at a time and yes, right now I know nothing about it, but I have learned other skills and I can learn this one too.

    There was a time when the thoughts seemed so negative and scary that I tried to push them aside but it never helped to do that. It was like I couldn't even bear the thought that I needed to be careful and take things seriously, I just wanted to push the entire issue aside.

    But I find that searching for the kernel of truth to any self-critical thought and stripping away the negative, extreme aspect is far more effective than trying to push it away entirely and it can quiet my mind a lot of times when I need it quieted.

    Like on the shame topic, we all need our *healthy* sense of shame, but toxic shame can damage our relationship with our own internal feedback systems to where they either bring us down or we push them aside totally. When we push them aside totally, we just increase anxiety because we know instictively that we NEED a healthy sense of shame and self-censure to stay balanced, but we feel we cannot trust our own because it is so negative and extreme, so I think the best course is to try and take the negative and extreme tones off of it and turn it into a true self-awareness feedback mechanism that can serve one instead of a nag that tears one down.

  4. #14
    Mamma said knock you out Mempy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grayscale View Post
    so this is based out of a feeling of fear, not rationality. rationality would say that you have a knack for being self-aware, and since you are so good at it you can safely trust yourself enough not to antagonize.
    This was really freeing advice for me, Grayscale. Thank you. I've been applying it to my life for the past few days, and it's been a tremendous help. I didn't realize how much of my anxiety was coming from nowhere justifiable. When I started to ask myself, "What reason is there for this feeling?" more often than not I did find no basis. To me it was liberating to start asking for proof from myself for my feelings of anxiety. Thank you, really.

    for me, the emotional approach wouldn't work. i would have to be objective and realistic with myself.
    Sigh. It doesn't work for me, either. But it used to.

    here, being objective means that you dont assign a personal value to the different attributes of yourself, they are simply facts--some of them you can change, some of them you cant, some you may want to and some you may not. ultimately the positive or negative value to give them will not change the fact of their existence, nor will it help you change things that you cant, nor will it even help you change the things you can.
    I'd like you to elaborate a bit more on what it means to assign a personal value to the different attributes of yourself. How do you go about not assigning a personal value to them?

    being realistic means you have an accurate conceptualization of yourself... that means recognizing the positive as well as the negative, ala "i am this :sad:, but i am also this ... i am a lot of things, i am neither perfect nor am i a disaster... i am me and i like that!"
    I agree.

    it makes sense that when you emotionally quantify yourself, it's difficult to feel like you measure up, and that carrot is always going to be right in front of your nose. instead, try to remain realistic with who you are, but when it comes to self value, appreciate yourself as a whole... if you can learn to just like you for you, that's something that can be maintained through life's inevitable ups and downs.
    So does recognizing the good qualities you have keep you from agonizing over your bad qualities? And how is having an overall positive opinion of yourself different from taking the "emotional approach"?

    I outrightly feel repelled by any attempts I make to force myself to adopt a positive opinion of myself when I don't see any justification. I can't do it.

    I can understand the need to like yourself for you, but I don't know how to do that. What attitude are you taking toward yourself that allows you to like yourself overall? What justification can you use? The fact that you're neither perfect nor a disaster? That's a pretty good start. It means any violent and extreme feelings of shame or self-reproach are inaccurate and inapplicable.
    They're running just like you
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    So people, people, need some good ol' love

  5. #15
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    its late, i only read the OP, so I am sorry if I missed some important info later....

    Quote Originally Posted by Mempy View Post
    I think too much before I speak or act, betraying a high level of self-criticism. I often become paralyzed even in one-on-one interactions with people close and familiar to me, while I furiously try to master my fear and try to shift back into a mindset that allows me to function and enjoy myself.
    It's hard to live when you're constantly outside the "life stream" looking at yourself, isn't it? Sigh. So much for spontaneity.

    I think I fear that if I start relaxing my critical grip on myself, I'll somehow miss the truth of myself, overlook my glaring flaws, be oblivious, be irrelevant, be inane, and be completely out of touch. I've tried to reconcile being self-aware with being kind to myself. I know there's got to be a way to know the truth of myself while still seeing myself as good and worthy.

    So my question is, how do you take inventory and stock of yourself without being condemning or self-critical, and while still keeping your self-worth? How do you reconcile the need to improve with the need to keep your self-esteem? What does it take to have a mindset of benevolence toward yourself? For me it doesn't work to just say, "Be gentle with yourself." I need more. I need specifics.
    I wish I had the answer in one or two sentences for you. I wish I had tracked it better for myself. I went through most of my life exactly as you have described. It will destroy you if you can't get out of the mindset, reducing you either to a puppet or a recluse.

    Somewhere over the last few years, things changed for me. You know a large part of my recent story, and I think that that honesty with myself and the world has made a big difference. But I don't know if that was the cause; I think I had to work through the self-loathing first, or making the choices I have might have killed me.

    The most I can put together this late at night is that I finally realized that, all of my life, I had this Ideal Self that I had expected myself to be -- the perfect person, always smart, always kind, always saying the "right" thing, never making a mistake, never making an error, never hurting anyone, never making waves. It was insane, but that is really what I felt I had to be.

    Unfortunately, you will kill the Real Self if you try to become the Ideal Self. The Ideal Self is not real. Nor should it be. It's usually inhuman. At some point, I realized this, and I was to a point in my life where I had been trying for SO long to fit the Ideal and had become disillusioned... so it was easier at that point to accept that the Ideal was bad for me and it was okay to just be Real.

    I posted an anecdote here long ago which dealt specifically with this -- the instance where I attended a spiritual direction retreat and at the end went up to share what the week meant to me, despite not having any idea what to say. I felt ugly, foolish, stupid, fumbling, just embarrassed because when I stood up there I met none of the criteria of the Ideal Me. It was humiliating. When I went back to my seat, people hugged me, but I just wanted to literally crawl out of the room and cry my eyes out and avoid everyone.

    A few different people eventually thanked me for what I said at the end of the retreat. I was floored. "I sounded so stupid," I said, along with lots of other criticisms.

    "It was rough, you did fumble around, maybe it wasn't as good as you wanted... but you were so naked and honest about things that everyone was floored by it. You were so Real." That was the gist of the response.

    I realized I was still likable and lovable even if I was never any of the things I wanted all my life to be. Oh, I know I'm still actually pretty smart, and funny, and insightful, and whatever else... but that's not where my value comes from. I don't have anyone to impress, really, not anymore. And I also realized that much of the time when I was ridiculing myself inside, the majority of people actually thought pretty well of me and accepted all the things I was trying to prove myself to be, even when I didn't always measure up to my expectations.

    After that point, I stopped taking myself so seriously.

    I think the knowledge you need, dear one, is that of your own value regardless of how well you perform or how you come across to others. I don't know how to get it through to you. You might not be ready yet; sometimes we have to exhaust ourselves before we can "give up" and accept our humanness. And it's probably going to mean your going out "naked" in front of others a bit, allowing yourself a bit of freedom -- which will bring fear with it, which can be uncomfortable.

    But the more you take risks to just leap out into the sky without trying to control/evaluate yourself, going with the flow of things, the more confident you'll get. Either you'll do amazingly well and realize you CAN do it without constantly critiquing yourself; or you'll fail and realize that you can still walk away from the failure, it didn't kill you at all.

    I hope that is helpful, I think I'm going to bed... midnight again? uggh.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  6. #16
    Mamma said knock you out Mempy's Avatar
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    GREAT post, Heart. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by INTJMom
    I used to be extremely self-critical, too, and I'm sure I still am to a certain degree. I have been working on it for years. For me, it comes down to figuring out what messages are being replayed in my head that I am not consciously aware of, i.e. the messages I received from my critical mother, the lies I believe because I am a perfectionist, etc. Once I isolate one, I work on it.
    I think this is extremely important, and for me it ties into what Grayscale said. Lies. Lies you tell yourself that don't necessarily have much truth to them, but that you've just unconsciously taken as fact for who knows how long. For me, though, the lies don't take any kind of language other than feeling. In social situations, even tiny ones, I'll often FEEL the flood of anxiety, the tenseness, the worry, and not know WHAT to do about it. I guess unconsciously I just feel incapable of doing well. I sentence myself to a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what Grayscale said was extraordinary. He said, "Logic would tell you... [fill in the blank]." Logic would tell me, "What basis is there to believe I won't do well, other than the fact I'm so fucking scared I'm just going to psych myself out?" I may not know exactly what to do or be extremely confident, but that's a far cry from being completely socially inept. (And this is strikingly similar to what Heart does, I think: stripping away the negative to find the kernal of truth, if any.)
    They're running just like you
    For you, and I, wooo
    So people, people, need some good ol' love

  7. #17
    Alexander the Terrible yenom's Avatar
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    that sounds opretty type 1. The root comes from the fear of falure.

    I have this problem too, it ewas programmed by my parents.

    Never criticize toursdelf when you done something wrong. To err is human, successful people made huge mistakes in order tyo succed. You can write down everything you consider wrong in a book and look at the things you critize yourself of. Are they realistic criticisms. are they really life and death errors? What do you fear? slowly your thinking will change.

    Self-cosnciousness will only amount to more internal criticism, it will never amount to success.
    The fear of poverty turns people into slaves of money.

    "In this Caesar there are many Mariuses"~Sulla

    Conquer your inner demons first before you conquer the world.

  8. #18
    Mamma said knock you out Mempy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    its late, i only read the OP, so I am sorry if I missed some important info later....
    [...]
    I hope that is helpful, I think I'm going to bed... midnight again? uggh.
    It was a wonderful post, and I stay up way past my bedtime all the time, too.

    Wow. Jen. Thank you. You are such a gentle and wise soul. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your understanding and kindness. I think you've really shed some light on the problem, and awakened me again to what I've been doing wrong.

    My entire soul resonates with what you said about the Ideal Self. How insane it is, but how that is what you really feel you must be. I'm the same. So much of our orientations to ourselves seems to be the same.

    I do reject a lot of my real feelings and responses, believing them to be unacceptable, and substituting feelings and responses that I think will be more acceptable. But it's not at all as though this is a conscious process; I'm completely unaware of what I'm doing. It just seems to have become my natural mode of being.

    The Ideal Self, the self I've always wanted to be, the self that is impossible and unhealthy to be. It's not even human, as you said. It's not real. And that makes it not okay.

    It's so relieving and comforting to have that feeling of shared struggles, sorrows and mistakes - and shared hope. I can relate to your story about getting up in front of those people, nothing close to the person you want to be, and afterward wanting to crawl under a rock and cry. The difference is, I don't think I could really be open like that, truthful, if I loathed the truth so much.

    Sometimes I'm so frustrated with myself, so self-loathing, so humiliated by the reality of who I am and how I feel about that person that I just start crying. It happened tonight. There are things about myself I find unacceptable. But it's true that believing them to be unacceptable doesn't do a thing to really change them or bring me closer to the person I feel I have to be.

    I think the greatest challenge, as you implied, is in realizing that the parts of you that you find so unacceptable are actually okay, actually acceptable. The Ideal Self is not actually necessary to become; it's just something you feel you need to become to be acceptable.

    The frightened part of me shouts, "No!" panicked. "What are you talking about? What is the logic for this? How can those horrible things about you be okay? You're just lying to yourself again!"

    I think I've been raised by a mom that does not accept her humanness. My step-dad had a stroke recently. My mom and I had a conversation one night even more recently, a couple weeks after. I'm sorry to say I can't remember exactly how the conversation went, or what the context of her following statements were, but I think I told her it was all right to feel her emotions. To some effect, I think I was trying to convey that she was just human. She told me she would not allow herself to be weak; she kept saying, "I'm strong. I'm so strong." And I remember years ago writing a description of my mom that said just that, that she's one of the strongest people I've ever known, so apparently she's definitely managed to convey that message to me, but I think to her detriment, and mine.

    I was just so sad for her, mournful even. Not primarily because of her pain, but mostly because she didn't seem to want to allow herself to really feel it or own it, and I think she's lived most of her life that way. And that's so sad.

    The only time she seems to really break down is when she's drunk, and then she's often an explosion of black rage and inconsolable grief. That's always been her outlet. In my mind, she's been an alcoholic in the past. I read somewhere that perfectionists are especially prone to self-medicating their emotional pain with alcohol and drugs. It seems logical to me.

    It's hard to live when you're constantly outside the "life stream" looking at yourself, isn't it? Sigh. So much for spontaneity.
    Yeah, so much for it, lol. It's one of the things you mourn for when you're so self-critical.

    The most I can put together this late at night is that I finally realized that, all of my life, I had this Ideal Self that I had expected myself to be -- the perfect person, always smart, always kind, always saying the "right" thing, never making a mistake, never making an error, never hurting anyone, never making waves. It was insane, but that is really what I felt I had to be.
    It is insane, and it sounds uncannily similar to my own ideal self - not surprisingly. It's SO hard to be at peace with your real self, to understand that that real self really is acceptable, even if it goes against the grain of everything you've come to believe in life. The first time I came across this idea was about three years ago, when I read the description of Type Two. I learned that selfishness, at least in the form of taking care of my needs, was totally necessary and acceptable, but up until I had not known that. It was a freeing experience, and it deconstructed the Ideal Self I'd aspired to up until then; it made me realize that my ideal self was impossible and not desireable.

    It's so hard for me to get into the mindset of not censoring myself, not worrying about what I should say, how I should respond. It's like my natural mode of being, being unnatural, lol.

    I think the knowledge you need, dear one, is that of your own value regardless of how well you perform or how you come across to others. I don't know how to get it through to you. You might not be ready yet; sometimes we have to exhaust ourselves before we can "give up" and accept our humanness.
    I agree with the bolded; you have to be exhausted. I think I've been exhausted for a while, but with no way out.

    I realized I was still likable and lovable even if I was never any of the things I wanted all my life to be. Oh, I know I'm still actually pretty smart, and funny, and insightful, and whatever else... but that's not where my value comes from. I don't have anyone to impress, really, not anymore. And I also realized that much of the time when I was ridiculing myself inside, the majority of people actually thought pretty well of me and accepted all the things I was trying to prove myself to be, even when I didn't always measure up to my expectations.
    The implication seems to be that our traits are irrelevant when it comes to our value. Or should be? Where does your value come from? If you had to put it in words?
    They're running just like you
    For you, and I, wooo
    So people, people, need some good ol' love

  9. #19
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    Maybe you could pretend that everybody else is the exact same way. If you did, how would you treat them? However you would treat them, treat yourself that way.
    "When a resolute young fellow steps up the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find that it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #20
    12 and a half weeks BerberElla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocapszy View Post
    Know what? I do that too.
    Well at least I'm critical of myself.

    So what do I do? I begin to dominate ass. That is, I do good shit. Or shit I've wanted to do. I basically try to impress myself. Then I become proud.
    Well it's better than continuing to get down on myself.


    Do what I do.
    Do good shit. Paralyzed...
    I guess it would be hard. So what? Lots of stuff is hard. Do it anyway.
    At least distract yourself.

    Or maybe I don't know what I'm talking about... I don't think I'd make the best counselor.

    I like that advice. I suffer from the same problem as the OP and inside I believe like you just said, that at that stage the best way is to actually get out there and do something that makes you feel like patting yourself on the back. With each new success you feel more sure and less critical about yourself.

    I have been attempting to apply this to the real world and not just my head lol and the few things I have dared myself to do recently have made me feel alot better about myself, which in turn is giving me more motivation to go for and stop over thinking, the other things I want to do.
    Echo - "So are you trying to say she is Evil"

    DeWitt - "Something far worse, she's an Idealist"

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