For years, I wasn’t even conscious of the voice, but it was always there.
“You should have seen that!”
Every time I made an error — of any kind — the voice told me what I “should have” seen or done or not done. The voice knew everything I should have done. Its standard was perfection.
If I missed a question on a test in high school, the voice was outraged. If it was a complicated algebra problem and I overlooked a tiny key detail in the setup — causing me to get the answer wrong — the voice was angry. It wasn’t a chance to learn where pitfalls were. It was a reason to criticize myself, even if I outscored everyone else on the test, because I hadn’t been perfect.
When I played a game — whether it was racquetball or a word game — every mistake was a reason for outrage.
“Why didn’t you see that? What’s wrong with you?!”
When I used to play racquetball, I ruined several rackets in frustration with myself. I was never angry with an opponent. Always with myself. And without realizing it, I slowly taught myself that my very human mistakes meant I was irredeemably broken.