Self-criticism: dangerous to your success?

Do these thoughts ever run through your mind? From the Wall St. Journal today…(PDF here in case)

“A physician starts playing a harsh mental tape in her head every time a new patient calls: What if I make the wrong diagnosis? I’m a terrible doctor. How did I get into medical school?

“An executive loses his job and despite 25 productive years, he tells himself: I’m a loser. I can’t provide for my family, and I’ll never be able to again.

“An eminent scholar is offered a top post in the Obama administration and his first reaction is: They must have made a mistake.

“If these real-life examples sound familiar, you may have a caustic commentary running in your head, too. Psychologists say many of their patients are plagued by a harsh Inner Critic — including some extremely successful people who think it’s the secret to their success.”

“An Inner Critic can indeed roust you out of bed in the morning, get you on the treadmill (literally and figuratively) and spur you to finish that book or symphony or invention.

“But the desire to achieve can get hijacked by harsh judgment and unrelenting fear. “There’s a healthy version and an unhealthy version,” says Daniel F. Seidman, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. In some cases, he says, “people may achieve a lot, but they are totally miserable about it.” MORE here. (PDF here in case)

How about you? Time to silence that carping inner critic?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • I have read this about many a coach and athlete.

    A coach can have an all-time winning percentage, but the games that haunt him are the ones he lost.

    A baseball player can go 3 for 4 at the plate, which is excellent, but all he can do is brood about that one bad at bat.

    The inner critic can be a good thing, because without it, most successful people will not succeed.

    But there comes a point where the inner critic can be harmful, and even destroy a person. That's when it is over the top and needs to be dealt with.


    Eat Well. Live Well.

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