Each January, we strive to become a better version of ourselves—one that eats healthier, works out more, drinks less and saves more money.
But when our enthusiasm fades after the first week or so, that’s when the going gets tough and our inner critics pipe up, says Dr. Joan Rosenberg, Ph.D., psychologist, creator of Emotional Mastery Training and author of the forthcoming book “90 Seconds to a Life You Love” (Little, Brown & Co., February 2019).
“We say, ‘I should be further along, so I’m going to quit,’ or ‘I’m so stupid, I can’t pull this off. Why am I such a loser?’ The kinds of things we say and think to ourselves can really hold us back,” she says.
Interestingly enough, we engage in this kind of self-abuse to escape the unpleasant physical sensations that accompany certain difficult feelings, such as the hot flush of shame, the rapid heartbeat and clenched chest of embarrassment, or the heavy feeling in our chest of disappointment. These are the sensations that come up as we progress more slowly than we’d hoped or stumble on the path to our goals, Rosenberg says.
And while some might consider this kind of self-criticism a motivator, it’s actually quite damaging.