by Diane Wing, M.A.
The world can be harsh. On social media, book reviews, Quora, in person, opportunities abound to be criticized for every thought and action. Your situation may also invite criticism from family, friends, colleagues, and bosses.
Even when you’re doing what you think is right, there is the potential for someone to say that there’s a better way or that they don’t like the way you’re approaching the task. With all of the critical bombardment, it’s not surprising how easy it is to go into self-critique mode.
This mindset results from:
– Fear of being criticized. The rationalization is that if you can be your own harshest critic, you’ll find the issues before someone else does.
– A history of being criticized that morphed into the belief that you can’t do anything right.
– Dissatisfaction with your life, your work, or your relationships.
So what can you do to overcome the inner narrative of self-criticism?
– Stop criticizing others. If you have fallen into a routine of dispensing criticisms toward others switch to compliments. Find one thing that is positive and share that thought. Practice doing this each day for others and the technique will work its way into your own psyche.
– Catch negative thoughts toward yourself. Find the pattern that prevails in your own mind. Is it that you can’t do anything right? Or maybe you think that it’s all pointless. It’s possible your pattern is the result of negative things others have said to you. There’s a good chance that the negative thoughts are not true; they’re simply a misrepresentation of who you are. Once the pattern is identified, when that thought bubbles up, shut it down with the word “stop” the stream of thoughts. Then find one positive attribute about yourself to replace the negative and focus on that.
– Recognize the judgments inherent in your mindset. Those judgments work their way in and undermine your view of yourself and others. Write down your top three pet peeves. Find the similarity between them and it’s likely that it will point to the judgment you’re likely to impose on yourself and others.
When you are your harshest critic, it makes life hard and diminishes your ability to bring your best work and self to the world. Self-awareness is key in recognizing the negative thoughts that plague you and lower your confidence and self-esteem. Stand-up to yourself and realize that you may not have control over external critics, but you do have the ability to modify how you talk to yourself. It’s time to elevate your value and see yourself in the context of your positive attributes.
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Copyright Diane Wing, all rights reserved