The worst critic of all

October 20, 2013

A hard on self

Affirmations are everywhere on social media and they’re usually aimed at women.  Most times, I’d look smugly at them and think, “I’m long past needing that, thank God.” And I’d wonder at how women could reach my age and still need someone else to tell them they’re ok.

And then, the other day, I was in San Francisco, where I’m taking vocal lessons from a friend who’s a professional singer and actor.  I hadn’t been practicing as much as I should’ve been and so I wasn’t always hitting notes straight on. When I heard myself getting “pitchy” it would piss me off. At myself. And frustrate me.

Professore, as I call him, summoned his wife from the other side of the flat. His wife is my dear friend, retired from a successful career as a Broadway actress and with a Tony nomination under her belt. Singer as in Real. Singer.  Just like Professore.

“Take a listen,” he said to her.

Ok, so how I have the nerve to sing in front of a Tony nominee with a huge voice, I don’t know. Maybe because she and professore both are terrific people. Trustworthy people.

I sang.

“You’ve got it,” she said.  “But…”

I waited.

“You make the funniest editorial faces when you screw up a bit, and when you do, you lose focus on the rest of it. Stop judging yourself! Just sing!”

The aha! moment.  I did judge myself, after all.  We all do. Just on different topics. Maybe it’s our appearance. Our job. Our kids.  Our marital history.

Is there a worse critic about ourselves than ourselves?

She instructed me to loosen my jaw, my body and sing the piece while jumping up and down to loosen up and take focus off my judgment of myself.

Right: look like an idiot and sound like an idiot both–ok then!  I did it.

So here’s the thing.

I’m lucky in one way: I’m far past requiring external validation.

But in terms of myself? A different story.

I am my own worst critic.

So when I saw the card in the graphic above, I thought it was good advice.

Hey, who knows how we get this way. Maybe it’s our parents, our upbringing, idiotic bosses–you name it. It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that we recognize when we’re being unreasonably harsh on ourselves and nip it in the bud.

Right this very minute.

8 comments on “The worst critic of all
  1. beth says:

    I think you make the faces so that they know that you know that at those moments your pitch is off. Maybe?

    • admin says:

      Right. Because they don’t know that I know. Yes, it’s an embarrassed little face. But I do it to myself when I’m alone,too. Perfectionism is a curse. 😉

  2. As an adult I’ve been my worst critic…realized this past year that I had internalized my mother’s voice from my childhood. I’m working on it, but it’s not all that easy! As with you, recognition is the first step!

  3. Barbara says:

    A gentle reminder like this is good. And I’m not going to be hard on myself for being hard on myself.

  4. Thanks for that timely reminder Carol! I’m about to give the biggest presentation of my life tomorrow, and I needed to hear “Stop judging yourself and just sing!”

  5. Debra says:

    This post hit home–I’ve always felt I was ‘past that’ also, but it is so true! There IS always something somewhere lurking, quietly judging in the back of my mind. I find I need to be on the look out at all times.
    Thanks for sharing!

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