Perfectionism and the Inner Critic: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Have you ever heard that annoying, little voice inside you telling you that you are not good enough? Have you ever finished your workday but decided to keep working because your results did not yet meet your high expectations? These are two examples of that voice inside us that push us hard and can lead us to the brink of exhaustion. It is the result of the combination of our inner critic and our perfectionistic tendencies. But, how are these two seemingly different concepts related to each other? Today we will find out.
The Relationship Between the Inner Critic and Perfectionism
Unhealthy perfectionism is another word for your inner critic. When perfectionism is unhealthy and toxic it can take the form of the inner critic and send us a thread of belittling messages that only serve to push us to the brink. So, before we embark in the journey of learning to silence our inner critic and perfectionism, we must first learn how these two concepts are related to each other.
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a mindset that can stem from childhood trauma and can lead to burnout and relationship problems. It is a mindset that pushes us all the time, makes us work harder while reminding us that we are not good enough, and that we should try harder. It brings up other people's successes while constantly reminding us that we are not yet there, that we have to do better, become better, and achieve more. Many times, perfectionism and the inner critic can become one and the same thing. In these instances, the inner critic helps perfectionism in its quest for upmost quality and perfection.
The Inner Critic
We all have an inner critic. The inner critic is this little voice we hear in our head that focuses and reminds us of our mistakes, failures, and weaknesses. It is the voice that sends us all these highly critical negative messages about ourselves. However, the inner critic also sends us critical messages about others and of the world. But, how exactly do these messages sound like?
3 Examples of the Inner Critic
These messages are usually what we hear every time we connect with our inner critic, with our perfectionism. These are the messages that push us and punish us for our mistakes. These are those messages that demand more from us even though we are tired and exhausted. Our inner critic and perfectionism do not care about anything else than perfection. It solely demands results and does not focus on the bigger picture. It does not pay attention to whether we can make it or not, if we feel tired or not, or if our workload is healthy or not. It does not offer self-compassion, rather, it belittles us and push us to the brink with its unattainable demands.
How To Silence Your Inner Critic and Inner Perfectionist
So, now that we have learned that perfectionism and the inner critic can be two sides of the same coin, let's delve into what we can do when our inner critic and perfectionist is demanding too much from us.
Become aware of the voice
The first and most important step is to learn to recognize when your inner critic or unhealthy perfectionism is talking to you and is becoming too loud. Try to foster self-awareness and learn to recognize when these messages are popping up. If you want to learn whether you have some perfectionistic traits, make sure to take a look at our checklist. Moreover, it is also a good idea to tune into your body as our bodies are constantly sending us signals.
4 Physical symptoms to look out for
The next step towards calming your inner critic and foster a more healthy and balanced voice is to practice self-compassion. There are many resources that can help you develop a more helpful voice that gives you inner peace, rather than dread and anxiety. One example is to pause, go on a mindful walk in nature, and talk to yourself as if you were your own best friend. You would not tell your friend that they are not enough and that they are a failure, right? Then, why is it that we all tell ourselves all these demeaning messages? When you catch yourself treating yourself harshly, pause, and ask yourself: What would I say to a friend? You can even write down your original, harsh message, and rewrite it in a more self-compassionate way. Whatever makes sense to you and helps you develop a more healthy inner voice.
Also, remember that stress sometimes can be okay. There is healthy stress and unhealthy stress, the same as there is healthy perfectionism and unhealthy perfectionism. So, talking to yourself from a place of healthy perfectionism sounds like "it's okay to feel stressed because I have an important interview. It is going to be okay and we're gonna make it. And, even if I do not make it, it will be okay, I will have learned from it." As you can see, talking to yourself with self-compassion also entails accepting your emotions. It is okay and normal to feel stressed, just be mindful of how you talk to yourself during times of stress.
Take Home Message
We hope this article helps you in your journey towards becoming more self-compassionate and calming your perfectionistic voice. And, if you ever need some help along the way, check our AntiLoneliness Academy where you can learn how to silence your inner critic and be more kind to yourself. And, always remember, you are not alone. Take care.
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