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The Harsh Inner Critic Does Not Have to Win

photo of car © Katherine Broadway

Have you ever had a week, day or weekend like this: extra meetings, extra activities and a weekend trip to plan? You keep thinking you will get that piece of work that is due, done after you finish this one task. Unfortunately, “after” did not happen.

That is the kind of week I was having so I decided that I would write this week’s blog article during the weekend. As I was packing for my trip, I realized I had my computer but no power cord. I remained calm with myself and made a plan to stop by the office and get the cord on the way out-of-town. I picked up the cord the next day.

Saturday afternoon, between brunch and the evening’s event, I had time to write the article. I pulled the computer out and the cord was not in the case. I assume it was in another bag. After an exhaustive search of every bag and a trip outside to search the car, the cord was nowhere to be found.

Admitting defeat, I hung my head in frustration and shame.

At that point I had a couple of choices, I could be mad at myself and let my Harsh Inner Critic beat me up or I could spend the time I had left, resting and looking forward to my evening. I must admit I had to reassure myself that it would be alright if I was late with my blog post.

It is Sunday night and I write this small confession on my iPad. The article that is planned for this week will be published, it will just be late. Thinking back on Saturday night I decided that this would be a good time to republish the article on The Harsh Inner Critic.


Have you ever wondered why one criticism

or piece of feedback will wipe out ten compliments?

That happens because of the Harsh Inner Critic.

Children who grow up with adequate parents are able to develop into their individual selves. When the parenting is inadequate, the children then decide they are “bad in a good world,” and work to be like the parent/ caretaker. They come to believe that their basic needs have caused the problems in their worlds. They are convinced their needs are bad. A harsh inner critic develops.


An insecure attachment is created between the caretaker and the child. This is an attachment where the child cannot depend upon the parent. A child needs a trustworthy and dependable parent/caretaker in order to thrive.


Because the human psyche is so creative and flexible, the baby can create a solution; he or she develops an internal parent (the Harsh Inner Critic) who is always with them, constant and dependable. Unfortunately, because the baby has decided he or she is bad and a problem to be fixed, this internal parent is harsh, critical and never satisfied. This internal parent always knows what to do and freely tells the child what to do, often far into adulthood. This usually involves telling the child how bad they are, and how much they need to change.


The Harsh Inner Critic is focused on the external world with no regard for the needs of the child. If the child does have needs, the Harsh Inner Critic calls the child a failure. Therefore, the child comes to believe that he or she should never require help satisfying basic human needs, because to do so is “bad.”


The Harsh Inner Critic, with all its demands and negative messages, becomes the child’s defense against feeling helpless, vulnerable, and hopeless. No matter how bad these messages feel, there is always a solution. The internal parent tells the child that the answers to these feelings are to develop a way of life that requires no outside help. This scenario sets the stage for the internal drama triangle to begin.

If you feel you are struggling with a Harsh Inner Critic, call me at:919-881-2001. Together we can find a way to help you with these messages.

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