This is Mental Health - Part 2

The Criticizer, the Criticized and the Compassionate Observer

By Jonathan Wensley

Cognitive behavioural therapy explores several exercises in addressing ill health. The criticizer, the criticized and the compassionate observer is one of them, studied by Gestlalt therapist Leslie Greenberg. 

And to get the ball rolling, you must think of an issue that troubles you, and often elicits harsh self-criticism. 

So, for the sake of this blog and what we are trying to achieve at Beeiit, in getting people to be really open about mental health and help each other, it would be remis of me to do anything but that. 

My ‘something’, my issue that often troubles me is; when I cannot do something, a trait usually associated with perfectionism. I may have been able to do it before and forgotten, or I believe I should have known how to do something. When I cannot do something, I get really annoyed and beat myself up. 

A three-chair dialogue for conflicting parts of, you.

The purpose of the exercise is to sit in different chairs to help get in touch with different, often conflicting parts of yourself, experiencing how each aspect feels.  

Yes, it does feel very silly to pick yourself up and sit in different chairs and talk to yourself. And you probably start thinking if I am going to this extreme to address an issue, I have that is causing me to have some mental health challenges, then I really must be NUTS.

Well, as I said in ‘This is Mental Health – Part 1 Black and White thinking’, we are all nuts but the craziest ones of us all are those that do not try and get help and address something they know is not quite right in their world. 

Ok, so on with the show, and like any good show we need to start by introducing the main characters.

Unfortunately though, the budget was a bit tight on this production and all potentially available actors were busy being reprimanded by Tom Cruise, and on floor scrubbing duties for not abiding by their COVID controls…. and quite rightly so, we do not want your sort around these parts either…

Instead, we have this wonderful charismatic actor below that I found on ShutterStock…

The Criticizer

Your Critical self

He blames you for every negative situation. He holds you personally responsible when bad things happen. He blames you for 'everything' rather than specific mistakes. He tells you, you are a failure, and undermines your confidence.  He says you are stupid and boring, and not good enough. He often compares you to others– and you always come up short. He is self-righteous, a bully, but why stop there, he is a 'real nasty piece of work.' 

20 Signs You Are Too Self-Critical
Psychology Today
by Loretta G. Breuning Ph.D.

The Criticized

Your Criticized self

You feel embarrassed, misunderstood, and upset that you are being judged. You feel undermined, ignored, and you feel foolish. You feel crushed and hurt, you feel small. The criticism feeds your own limiting beliefs. But sometimes you receive criticism, and it does not touch you, sometimes you don not even notice it. When there are no self-beliefs for the insult to hook into, it rolls off like a raindrop on our raincoat. But when deep down we hold limiting beliefs, the criticism arouses them.

Why You May Feel Crushed by Criticism (And What to Do About It)
by Esther Mellar

Compassionate observer

Compassionate Observer

Compassionate you

The wise one, full of wisdom and understanding. Friendly, kind, and compassionate. Understands you, cares for you and loves you. The voice of reason who looks upon all situations with true objectivity, with a sense of empathy. Sympathetic to a given situation where suffering is detected and has an authentic desire to help.

"Self-criticism is associated with lots of negative consequences – it’s strongly related to depression and dissatisfaction with life, self-critics are much more likely to attempt suicide than others, and so on –, while self-compassion is associated with many positive consequences – more happiness, optimism and other positive mind-states, less negative emotions such as fear and isolation, better relationships, greater emotional resiliency, and so on.."

Why High Achievers Choose Self-Compassion Over Self-Criticism.
by Nils Salzgeber

So, on with the exercise...

Sitting in one chair at once, try and notice the words and tone of voice and how it makes you feel.

Drawing attention to your body posture and what emotions you are feeling, really try and get in touch with how you feel.

And in doing this it is important that you verbalize how you feel. Internalising (thinking it) does not quite have the same affect, put it out into the universe and make it real, speaking whatever comes to mind.

Try and listen to the tone of the voice you use. Depending on which chair you are sitting in you will probably hear a different tone, as the criticized the tone might be sad, discouraged, and childlike, scared, and helpless.

But do not worry, let the dialogue flow between these two parts for some time, switching back and forth between the criticizer and the criticized allowing both to full express their views and be heard.

The criticizer, the criticized and the compassionate observer dialogue

I really hate it when we just cannot get things right. You should know what you are doing. You have done it before, why can you not remember.

What is up with you? you keep letting me down and it is simply not good enough. You should know how to do everything. What kind of person are you that cannot remember something?

What, you mean that you do not know what ## stands for? what an idiot. Are you thick or what? What kind of professional are you to not know that. You really should know everything.

If you do not know the simplest of things, that quite clearly everyone else knows what they are, then you might as well give up now. You are not good enough. 

I feel really hurt by you; you are not helping me at all.

You are making things worse; you are making me feel useless.

I feel completely unsupported by you, I feel so alone. Why would you treat me like this?

Everything you are saying is counterproductive, it is putting me in the gutter and I just feel like giving up.

You are meant to be here for me, to help me, we are meant to be in this together, but all you do is knock me down time and time again.

You just understand me, you do not get it, you are just like everyone else that puts me down.

Compassionate observer

I can see what you are trying to achieve ‘Mr Criticizer’, I know you are trying to encourage me to be the best I can be and to excel.

I know how you feel ‘Mr Criticized’, I know exactly how you feel, and I am here for you.

You are great at what you do, and it is unrealistic to be able to know everything and do everything, and it is to forget something, you are only human like everyone else.

Everything you are experiencing is normal, no one is perfect.

You are under a lot of pressure, so it is completely normal to have these feelings and feel this way towards the criticizer.

The intentions are good BUT unproductive, the approach is not helping you.

The compassionate observer prevails...

This is me when I remembered immediately how to insert the 'Just Giving' thank you GIF at the bottom of the page. I did not criticize myself, I supported myself, I believed in myself and a funny thing happened. I did not feel stressed, I felt I had my own back, and the results were instantaneous.... tears of happiness and pride

"In almost every aspect of life, self-compassion trumps self-criticism."
Why High Achievers Choose Self-Compassion Over Self-Criticism
by Nils Salzgeber

To be continued…

This is the second blog post of a series of 4, one posted each week here at, Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Practitioners.

Mental health is something we don’t all truly understand yet, …. but we’re gonna with everyone’s help, we all need to pull together. 

Please share this blog on social media as you might be that someone that needs help but you are too scared to say anything, this could be the start.

Or you might know somebody who is finding life too difficult at the moment, but you do not know it. If you share this blog ‘that someone’ might pick up on it, they might reach out to you, and if they do please give them the time they need, just let them talk and listen, truly listen.

If you want to be that start of truly understanding mental health you can Like, Share and Care and donate to our Mental Health charity by clicking below. All money raised goes towards mental health awareness and understanding. 

If you are struggling with your mental health, you are NOT ALONE. You can get better, reach out and tell someone, tell your GP, tell your friend, family, reach out and get support. Life can be a wonderful thing, it is truly the MOST precious gift anyone could ever receive.

Thank you for reading, Beeiit.

Please share on social media and reach out to someone

Beeiit Blog – This is Mental Health

Beeiit is raising money through our 4 part blog series ‘This is Mental Health’, for Rethink Mental Illness because we want to improve understanding and reach out to someone who might need a little help right now.

We are all in this together, only if we work together can we make a difference.

Thanks for taking the time to visit Beeiit’s JustGiving page.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

This is Mental Health

Please support Rethink Mental Illness
Author: beeiit


  • Wow, I have worked for all these managers over the years, I wish I had had this knowledge 40 years ago I’m sure I would have handled them better. Good information, keep up the good work.

  • I really enjoyed this blog it’s easy to relate to and at the same time gives advise on how to help yourself when negative and self critical thoughts creep in .
    It’s bad enough when life is getting you down then you decide to
    beat yourself up .


All comments welcomed, thank you

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