Ok, last blog I talked about self-criticism which pretty much happens to all of us at one time or another, but to varying degrees. Some people can use it constructively and take steps to apply changes to their life whether changing gears, direction, or approach. Some dive into reflection and observation to figure out the root of their criticism for generating a plan of change. And some people become completely deflated and are paralyzed by fear and insecurity, which only validates their original criticism. It confirms they don’t have what it takes for a successful life. And sometimes we bounce around in all three of these attitudes.
Ok, let’s use a practical perspective here. Criticism is essentially a form of feedback. Defined in two, very different ways. It can be an “expression of disapproval”, and also as, “an analysis and judgment of merits and faults”. One is proactive and one is reactive.
“Disapproval” is scolding or a reprimand, whereas “an analysis of merits and faults” is more of an evaluation and examination to find “answers” on the effectiveness of our choices and actions. Analysis is an essential tool for learning and growth.
Left unchecked, excessive self-criticism can lead to experiencing fewer positive emotions and more negative emotions day-to-day. Many begin to cope with life’s problems in an avoidant, less productive way, for example by isolating from others when they’re upset, rather than seeking out support. When this happens, people are more likely to become depressed and develop various other forms of mental illness such as eating and anxiety disorders.
“We are all failures- at least the best of us are.”J.M. Barrie
So, now that we’re aware of the dangers of unchecked self-critical behavior, let’s explore some tactics to help dissolve criticism and manage it in a way that’s beneficial not debilitating.
First, let’s get a big-picture view of our critical self-talk:
- Get curious about our critical talk – when did we first hear this?
- When does it surface most often?
Now, let’s begin to dissolve these nasty thoughts:
- Observe the talk. Awareness helps lessen its strength.
- Accept it wants to be heard. It’s crying for your attention.
- Challenge our self-talk. Disagree with it in detail and with emotion.
- Practice self-compassion❣️ It’s the comfort we all need for healing.
The key is to raise awareness of our critical self-talk because ignoring it won’t stop it. We need to prune it back from its out-of-control, overgrown state to a functional part of our garden of life. While it does serve a purpose of evaluation and reflection on how we impact the people and world around us, it’s not meant to dominate our daily thoughts.
“I think we all have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, whether it’s shyness, insecurity, anxiety, whether it’s a physical block, and the story of a person overcoming that block to their best self. It’s truly inspiring because I think all of us are engaged in that every day”.Tom Hooper
The good news is self-critical talk is a habit and something we can improve with intention and determination. Check out James Clear’s website on habits. He’s the leader of all things habits and author of Atomic Habits, one of my favorite books! ❤
Keep it Simple,