Self-criticism – useful or not?

I am of the ilk that reflect on not just what someone says to me, but how they say it, why they say it, where they say it and so on. This is pretty exhausting. Like anyone else, I try to second-guess, or mind-read (not in a psychic way) what the other person or persons are thinking. What is the thought process behind those words, why are they touching their face/hair in that way. Is their eye contact really sincere? 

I have really no clue at all whether other people are doing the same to me when I’m speaking to them, are they intently watching to see if I will give away some key behavioural tell? It is worrying to think that they perhaps might be, as I am acutely aware of every little error I make, in my speech, in my manner, in my dress. I am my very own worst critic. I assume that everyone else is much more efficient than me, funnier than me, prettier than me and so on. This is not healthy, and I know this. Why then do I still hold onto these beliefs? Or is it what everyone else does? Does everyone think that everyone else is doing a better job? Does this then lead to everyone becoming false selves, or acting their way through their lives? The mind trips over its own existentialism.

Grow

Do I have to learn to silence this self-critic in order to get to where I want to be? Or does she serve a necessary function? The answer lies in balance, listening to the critic when I need to be grounded, and ignoring her when she is being acutely negative. 

Having suffered with depression, both as a teenager and as an adult, I am mindful that self-criticism allowed to run away with itself can manifest itself in very ugly ways. This is not a place I want to keep visiting, the attractions (or lack of) are all too familiar and dull. A day at the seaside of my mind, rather than a deep dark forest, is what will keep the darkness at bay.

Measuring the impact of your own self-critic (as I assume everyone bar psychopaths has one), is tricky indeed, as it is a subjective measure. How much are you crippled by a nagging self-doubt? Is it more evident in women? Why could this be the case?  Are introverts more likely to be victims of self-criticism, and therefore more likely to suffer with depression? All valid questions, where could we find the answers? 

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