Dealing with Discomfort and Criticism

I talk a lot with clients about their inner critics because its one of the first inner voices we hear. 

One client told me, 

“If my critic isn’t on me all the time, my world will come down like a ton of bricks.”

They went on to share that they have to consider every angle of everything.

They check and recheck. 

They edit. 

They plan, plan and plan some more! 

They rehearse and review everything 


We all have our version of “a ton of bricks”. It translates to feeling like we have LOST CONTROL. 

What does losing control mean to you?

Is it failing at something? 

And what are the standards that you are using to determine if something is a success or failure? 

And are there other options besides those two?

Reactively, we feel mistakes aren’t repairable. An apology and a re-do, (the option we had as kids), just doesn’t work in the adult world. Sometimes it doesn’t, but A LOT of times it could alleviate a good portion of our pain. 

And that’s not nothing

The main reason we are afraid of messing something up and the main reason we need to be in control is because we immediately go to interpreting situations like we did as kids

As kids we were mostly powerless to the big adult world and we didn’t have a ton of authority or boundaries. We were at the mercy of the outside world letting us know if we were good or bad. We didn’t have the tools to wade through the complexity of emotions we were feeling. They were intense and scary and they took over. 

So we got crafty and learned places we could feel a sense of control. But in a kid way

Bare down and tough it out 

Push through

Kiss up

Hide out or 

Be “good” (good grades, cooperative with authority, funny, etc).

We weren’t conscious of any of this. We didn’t logically understand fear. We just felt it and it didn’t feel good. Plain and simple.  

We didn’t learn names of what we were going through; sadness, anxiety, frustration. We were told a lot of the time to actually NOT feel those hard things because they might have been inconvenient to our caregivers or they didn’t know how to soothe us and help us process through them.  

We didn’t learn to pay attention to feelings. We learned how to stuff them or work around them. This causes a Dagwood sandwich of body sensations and emotions. (If you don’t know who Dagwood is, Google him!)

Point is…all that tightness and nervousness we felt inside didn’t magically evaporate because we now know how to drive a car and can order a beer at a restaurant. 

It’s still here.   

Matter of fact, that tightness was marked inside with a “Never Again” sign. 

I never want to feel scolded again. 

I never want to feel incapable. 

I never want to feel left out. 

And as adults we got sophisticated in the way we dealt with those uncontrollable external world situations…we are workaholics, perfectionists, people pleasers, know-it-alls, control freaks!

Yep, that’s us. 

Don’t deny it. 

We are still trying to keep the proverbial house from crumbing around us. 

Things are now categorized in the adult version of “good” or” bad” which is success or failure

We over think normal natural life events because we believe we need to see every single aspect of that situation from the angle of ‘what could go wrong’. We don’t want to be surprised by those familiar emotions we couldn’t predict or work through as kids. 

Discomfort is a way of life.

But we are so good at vehemently denying pain. Its in our genes to move away from pain. We are simply doing what we are programmed to do. However, most of the emotions we blockade aren’t going to feel like a ton of bricks. 

Its our minds that make them out to be big bad monsters. 

We aren’t kids anymore. 

Its time to update the system inside. 

Emotions like sadness, anger, guilt, frustration, worry…these are everyday emotions. We honestly cannot get away from feeling them

We can learn to do feelings differently. 

We can feel fortified to handle life. 

We can stop taking things so personally. 

It’s time to learn to be emotionally intelligent in our interactions with others and especially in how we relate to and take care of ourselves. 

See if you can practice being aware of how you categorize your behaviors and your feelings. Notice if you are denying feelings. Judging yourself for having them. Or being tidal waved (overwhelmed) by certain ones. 

Take a flashlight to your inner programming and get curious about how you learned to deal with difficulty. 

Who was around to model emotional health for you? 

How you would like to do things differently when you feel tough, messy or big feelings again?

First step is knowing what you are doing automatically. I KNOW you have material to work with! Being human does that to us. We are all in need of updating our systems now and then. If it’s time for an upgrade, I’m here to help!