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  • Fe Robinson

The function of self-criticism

I was reminded this week of the important function of self-criticism. You know, that irritating, debilitating voice inside that nit picks and notices everything you don’t do well. Mostly, we think of it as a pain, and we just want it to go away. Trouble is, the more you try and push it away and silence it, the louder it gets.

It’s useful to reflect on where the mental habit of self-criticism comes from. When it formed, it was there to help and look after you. When we are being criticised by others, it can be a powerful defence to look out for every way in which we are deficient and in need of improvement for ourselves. That way, when another points it out, it doesn’t hurt.

The trouble is, when those that criticise are long gone, we are left still tormenting ourselves internally with all that criticism. Knowing that what you resist will persist can be helpful.

Try softening your internal voice and thanking the self-critic for looking after you. Notice the protective function of this part that is working so hard to stop you being hurt. It’s a beautiful defence, and when you recognise that, it is heard and its work begins to feel done. As that happens, and you take care of the vulnerability within, the picking can stop.


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