There is nothing worse than annulling yourself as a person. The person who annulls himself believes that he’s not deserving love and respect because he does not give himself the love and respect that he needs. He doesn’t trust his own abilities. He does not believe he has potential.
An annulled person devalues himself, he believes that he has nothing to contribute to others or to the world. He doesn’t have the strength to fight for himself because he has given up beforehand. He thinks he is not worth enough.
The person annulling himself is also not able to assert his assertive rights, so they often end up trapped in relationships of emotional dependency in which they are manipulated or mistreated. With an extremely fragile self-esteem and a ruthless inner critic, that person cannot lead a full life in which feeling satisfied.
The origin of the relentless inner critic of the annulled person
The person annulling himself has a deep self-esteem problem. Self-esteem reflects how much we love and esteem ourselves. However, it is not a static formation, but it tends to oscillate throughout our lives and even in the same day. When we do something well we feel that we can do everything, when we make a mistake we feel useless.
Our self-esteem fluctuates because the feelings we experience towards ourselves also depend on the circumstances and our performance. Self-esteem depends to a great extent on the way in which our inner critic assumes the defeats and failures. In some people that inner voice acts as a kind of motivator that helps them maintain a solid self-esteem despite mistakes, while in others it acts as a ruthless critic who drowns them with reproaches and insults.
The critical inner voice is an integrated and relatively coherent pattern of thoughts towards ourselves and the others. That inner critic begins to take shape in our early life experiences. In fact, it ends up influencing our identity. Just as the experiences of love, warmth and security contribute to nurturing a positive image of ourselves; negative experiences of criticism, punishment, and blame feed an unrelenting inner critic.
This critical thinking pattern is an attempt to make sense of the painful or hurtful experiences we have lived, our defeats and failures. From these setbacks we draw conclusions about who we are, how much we are worth and how the others see us. The person annulling himself thinks that all the fault belongs to him, without taking into account the contextual factors. Thus, he develops a hyper critical, questioning and self-limiting attitude that fuels low self-esteem.
The funny thing is that many of the critical attitudes we assume tend to come from negative attitudes we pick up from our parents, teachers and/or authority figures, as well as blaming interactions with siblings or peers. Disdainful parents can make us feel like we are a burden and don’t know how to do anything, while overly critical parents can make us feel flawed and lead us to think that nothing we do will be good enough.
When we grow up, these attitudes remain in our mind, forming part of our inner critic. We introject the pessimistic and demoralizing discourse of the others, assuming it as our own. In fact, it is likely that many of the phrases we say to ourselves when we recriminate ourselves for a mistake or failure are not our own construction, but come from our childhood or adolescence.
A ruthless inner critic is usually the accumulation of negative evaluations that we have received throughout our lives. Giving faith to that toxic speech and thinking that it is real can lead someone to annul themselves as a person.
The inner critic trap: A loop of doubts and Iinsecurities
The person annulling himself usually cedes command to his inner critic. Every time that critical voice is activated, it raises doubts, throws poisoned darts, and makes caustic evaluations that would shake even the strongest self-esteem.
When an annulled person looks in the mirror before leaving home, for example, his inner critic may say to him: “You look awful, how have you dressed !?” Before presenting a project, he will tell you: “Don’t strain, it will be useless. You won’t be able to do it right.”
Of course, the prospect of failure often turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The inner critic activates doubts, insecurities and anxieties, so that when the person makes a mistake, he continues his attack: “I told you! You are worth nothing.”
This internal dialogue, repeated day after day, ad nauseam, can lead someone to annul themselves as a person, making them believe that they are not really worth anything or deserve to be loved. That hammering voice in the head becomes the only reality that knows, so there comes a point in which the annulled person does not even question the veracity of those statements or consider the possibility of changing them.
In reality, the inner critic’s trap consists in making that person go back, in a certain way, to his childhood or to those moments of failure, vulnerability and helplessness in which he did not have the psychological tools to defend himself and simply accepted the negative feedback of authority figures.
In practice, the inner critic makes him re-experience rejection and criticism, activating feelings that prevent him from analyzing from a logical and mature perspective what is happening. He thus locks the annulled person in a loop that leads him to annul himself even more.
How to stop annulling yourself as a person?
The whole process that the inner critic unleashes to lead someone to annul themselves as a person is usually unconscious. The person is not aware that the criticism he directs is not usually his, nor is he aware of the primary feelings that are triggered. Thus the vicious cycle is perpetuated.
The good news is that understanding that mechanism is the first step for turning it off. There are different cognitive defusion techniques to free ourselves from our “inner dictator.” A good exercise is to look for the origin of the negative criticisms that we address or go back to discover who made us feel that way. It is not about looking for culprits who carry our insecurities but about breaking the influence that these authority figures continue to have on our thinking, decisions and behaviors.
From that moment we can begin to rebuild our inner dialogue. The second step is to build affirmations that help us achieve our goals in life and value ourselves, instead of nullifying ourselves as people. To do this, another exercise is to carefully analyze our most common critical statements and ask ourselves: Does it help me achieve my goals? If the answer is negative, we must put in its place a developing affirmation, which motivates us to achieve our dreams.
Last but not least, we must carry out this process of restructuring the inner critic from compassion. To defuse a ruthless inner critic, it is not necessary to fight it, but only to identify when it arises, understand where it comes from, separate and challenge the behavior it perpetuates. And we can’t accomplish all of that without the third step: self-empathy.
Getting angry with the voice that criticizes us does not make sense. Instead, it is more helpful to see ourselves as a small child who needs understanding and affection. Self-empathy involves being kind to ourselves, especially when we make mistakes. It involves being understanding, connecting with our suffering, and redirecting goodness to us.
Self-empathy allows us to meet our inner critic with empathy because it helps us understand that in reality he is not our enemy, but wants to “help” us, only that he does not know or has not learned how to do it properly. So we can get to know each other and become the person we want and can be.