This response is important for our ability to learn from mistakes, but it also gives rise to self-criticism, because it is part of the threat-protection system. In other words, what keeps us safe can go too far, and keep us too safe. In factit can trigger self-censoring.
One touch of a red-hot stove is usually all we need to avoid that kind of discomfort in the future. The same is true as we experience the emotional sensation of stress from our first instances of social rejection or ridicule. We quickly learn to fear and thus automatically avoid potentially stressful situations of all kinds, including the most common of all: making mistakes.
Defaulting to Mindfulness
Everything along the way, to and from, fascinated her: every pebble, ant, stick, leaf, blade of grass, and crack in the sidewalk was something to be picked up, looked at, tasted, smelled, and shaken. Everything was interesting to her. She knew nothing. I knew everything…been there, done that. She was in the moment, I was in the past. She was mindful. I was mindless.
Both of these assumptions, of course, could be entirely false. Self-censoring is firmly rooted in our experiences with mistakes in the past and not the present. The brain messages arising from those experiences can be deceptive.