Have you ever heard the saying, “You are your own worst critic”?
Most of the time, it’s true. In fact it’s easy - too easy - to let this inner critic beat you up. Whether it’s reminding you of past failures, pointing out potential future issues, or digging up your flaws and making you feel like they are on display for the world to see, it feels like this critic is constantly reminding you of all the ways you have, or could, fail.
But really, your inner critic’s job is to protect you. It just needs a little on-the-job training. To whip it into shape:
Recognize that it’s trying to take care of you. When you feel that panic, that fear, rising up - take a deep breath. This is not a fight-or-flight moment. Instead, it’s a time to pause and realize that whatever is happening, you can handle it.
Figure out what’s frightening you. If you can put words to the thing that’s making you feel scared, it often loses its power to scare you. For example, if you’re yelling at your child because he was disrespectful, take a step back and try to understand what led to his behavior. As the parent, your job is not just to stop his behavior, but to understand the root cause and calm the situation.
Act wisely. Your mind and your heart are partners in helping you make wise, thoughtful decisions that come from a place of love. If you listen, you’ll hear the calm, loving parenting response pop into your head. Give it a try.
Give your critic a job. Put it to work doing something useful. If you notice your child wants a little healthy independence, ask your inner critic to help you identify those opportunities. Let it help you find those times when you could make better parenting choices. But in return, it has to promise not to beat you up when you make a mistake.
Laugh. You aren’t perfect. You’ll make mistakes. Sometimes, your inner critic will go bonkers and you won’t be at your parenting best. But you know what? It’s OK. You’re trying. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters most. You are trying, and your children are loved.