#14 The Asshole That Puts Me Down: Dealing With Self Criticism

Last time I talked about sources of Feedback(s). But I left one out. 

The asshole that’s constantly putting me down. 

Telling me I’m going to fail. Telling me I’m not good enough.


Why is he trying to bring me down? Why does he take the time every single day to tell me I’m a mouth breathing underachiever? Why do I give this negative, ruthless bastard the time of day?

Because he is me, Keith Daniel. My inner voice. My harshest critic. By far the hottest crucible I will ever face. I’ve seen research stating that up to 80% of our self talk/feedback is negative and I believe it. He’s always present and he’s NEVER satisfied.

"Not good enough."
"Not good enough."
"Not freaking good enough!"

Like being super critical of my writing. Each blog post takes forever. I self-annihilate trying to express myself just so. Even though I 100% know it doesn’t matter and it’ll never be perfect. 

So he’s a pain in the ass, but he’s not all bad. Yes, my over-editing is beyond the point of diminishing return. But my writing is also better because of his criticism. There are times when he does lift me up. During the 20% of the time when my SELF isn’t being an anchor, he can be my brightest light. Smile at me when I find just the right phrase. Urge me to keep going when the task feels stupid and lonely.

So better understanding this beast, SELF, is super important. Getting this voice, my inner feedback, in tune is the most important thing I’ll ever attempt. And that’s why it’s time to make a major change to my Map of Me.

I started this venture with a focus on motivation at work. Now it’s time to go deeper. To get to the real core of the challenge. Better understanding my SELF and how it relates to my work. Sure I can still do work and have friends and be a husband and father without a clear sense of my SELF. People do it every day. I might even trip across the occasional moment of glee or brilliance. But I’d rather understand where this stuff comes from than relying on randomness.

And rather than waste time on some smooth transition I’m just going to blurt out a SELF quote that has stuck with me. I think it’s a perfect example of why I have to go to this mysterious place to draw a useful map.

“I may think I see you as you are, but in truth, I see you as I am. The implications are staggering, and not the least of them is this: The issues in my life are rarely about you. They are almost always about me. All conversations are with myself, and sometimes they involve other people.”

This quote is from Susan Scott and her book Fierce Conversations. And it amplifies the huge, huge importance of self. Focus one more time on these lines...

"I see you as I am."

"The issues in my life...are almost always about me."

"All conversations are with myself."

So I get her point, but the idea of self is a freaking train wreck.  Physically it’s easy to know your self.  Head, shoulders, knees, toes. Check.  But mentally it’s a multi-headed beast.

There are my outward words and actions.
There are my internal controlled thoughts.
There are my unconscious rumblings that go on with or without me.  

And then I wake up each morning and it’s like some wise ass shuffled the deck.  I might feel opposite of the way I felt yesterday. Which one of these is my self! 

So maybe I should get some outside feedback on what I’m like? That way I can understand how I’m seen by others. BUT, are peoples perceptions/reactions things I should learn from?  Or are they deeply clouded by their own stuff banging around in their heads? Remember the quote from above. “I see you as I am.” Is the feedback they give me actually feedback about themselves?

Meaning there is no such thing as “neutral” feedback because everything they say is being interpreted by their preexisting filter. A filter that could be supportive and open or might already be loaded for bear before I even open my mouth. What a tangled ball of confusing shit.

This is way, way too deep for me to dive into right now. I’m just going to update the map and shut it down for the day. 


So the new map has two circles. WORK and SELF. And for starters I’m going to make them identical. So the SELF circle will also carry the points Be Fair Daily and Help Growth Happen. And FREEDOM and FEEDBACK(s) are still the primary components of Help Growth Happen. 

And this new circle is going to be the center of my universe. If my SELF is “wrong” nothing else can be right...

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