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Don’t Wait for People to Praise You. Do It Yourself Every Single Day

Don’t Wait for People to Praise You. Do It Yourself Every Single Day

Looking within ourselves is not often second nature to us. When we’re young, we get into the habit of looking to our parents and peers for recognition in order to validate ourselves – it’s how we tend to learn about the world around us and our place within it.

In our structured school systems, we’re used to waiting for a teacher’s approval and recognition and rarely learn to actually recognize ourselves. Doing this often led to accusations of arrogance rather than self-empowerment.

Our Culture Teaches Us to Focus On Our Weaknesses

It’s this early structure in our culture that limits our sense of discovery about our inner selves. But it also transcends throughout our lives through our general mindsets on self-improvement.

When we talk about improving ourselves, it tends to come from a space of lack.  We sense we’re not doing something right or we’re heading down the wrong life path and it’s usually in these circumstances that we feel the need to improve the flaws that have taken us there.

When we ask for feedback, more often than not it’s our flaws and what’s not good enough that’s highlighted rather than what we did well. The danger of this comes when our strengths aren’t celebrated and instead neglected in a way that is never developed into great ones.

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What Recognition Does to Our Brains

Recognition from others can be important but not when it’s your only source. Recognizing our own achievements and strengths is much more powerful than any outside validation.

Studies show writing down and recognizing our accomplishments, no matter how small, actually creates activity in the reward circuitry of our brains. Dopamine, along with other key chemicals, is released causing us a sense of energy around our achievements and allows us to get that feel-good factor.

This is why waiting for recognition from others can be futile. It may seem positive to get that feedback and validation from other people but when it doesn’t ultimately come from within, it can wear off easily. When we do well, often we’re the first to notice and we can overestimate how much others care about our accomplishments. This is why you shouldn’t wait for recognition but instead feel the power of recognizing yourself.

How To Recognize Your Own Achievements and Gain Empowerment

Write Down 3 Small Achievements Each Day

We can go through our whole day and assume we haven’t achieved anything but this is never the case. Even the smallest things such as meeting a new person, walking 10 minutes more than usual or helping a stranger should be considered accomplishments and celebrated.

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Writing down at least 3 small achievements each day can get us noticing that we do achieve more than we think. And it’s the collection of these small achievements that add up to the huge successes.

J.K Rowling spent many years achieving small tasks before she became hugely successful. Persevering with writing every day with the odds seemingly piled against her would have been extremely hard with no outside validation and constant rejection from publishers. Instead, she took note of how well she did every day and how much closer she was getting to accomplishing her goal.

For Every Weakness, Write Down a Similar Strength

We can easily focus on our weaknesses but a good strategy is to counteract any weakness with a strength. In other words, putting a positive spin on something seemingly negative. This helps you see the glass half full and see strengths that you haven’t necessarily recognized.

If you’re an over-thinker, write next to it that you’re detailed-minded. Being a perfectionist means you take pride in attention to detail. Having a tendency to be over-eager means you’re passionate.

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Writing these down enables you to see things from a different perspective and you’ll recognize not to dwell on weaknesses as completely negative.

Don’t Play the Comparison Game

We are all victims of comparing our lives to the success of others. But this causes us to focus from a space of lack and stops us from seeing what we do have going for us.

We have to remember that everyone is on their own path and at their own pace. Most of the time we only see a small fraction of someone’s life so it’s futile to believe someone is ultimately doing ‘better’ than us. Social media presents us with this constant opportunity to see a small window into others’ lives but be aware that feelings of envy are pointless and diminishes our sense of achievement. Don’t get sucked into the comparison game.

Keep Listening But Remain Detached

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The modern world has a competitive nature about her. We feel we need to be the best, and to do so, struggle and strive to be better – but at the cost of what? The feedback we get tends to focus on the negative but the key is to be able to filter out the helpful from the unhelpful.

It’s up to us to decide what is constructive in our growth and what is just unnecessary. Don’t get caught up dwelling on other’s opinions about you but instead accept if it’s something you genuinely want to work and focus on or not. Recognizing this from within rather than relying on outside validation will help you grow much more quickly and in your own way.

So, while being recognized for your achievements will give you a boost, it has the danger of being very conditional to your sense of worth. By learning to celebrate and recognize your accomplishments from within, you will move forward and grow in much better ways than you thought.

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

It is easy to hear the term “self-critical” and be immediately put off. After all, it’s difficult to be our own critics. However, utilizing self-criticism means taking a more self-aware path to ensure that you aren’t overlooking any possible areas of self-improvement.

Self-criticism affects your self-esteem and can be a useful tool to identify patterns of weakness that you can look to eradicate by adapting your behavior.

Self-Criticism Vs Self-Deprecation

In exploring the idea of self-criticism, one has to first consider what it means for the individual. It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between being self-critical and being self-deprecating.

Self-deprecation is the act of putting oneself down, sometimes in an attempt to be humorous, but oftentimes out of a place of doubt and insecurity[1].

Self-deprecation erodes one’s confidence. It isn’t something to use lightly, as your own self-talk will play a part in defining your existence and how you are perceived, and, more importantly, in how you perceive yourself.

At the same time, you can’t take yourself so seriously that you are unable to make light of your mistakes as you pursue self-improvement. There is, of course, a balance to be struck, and both self-criticism and self-deprecation can be utilized in moderation.

Learning the difference between the two is the key to pursuing a productive life that will allow your successes to compound and your failures to be reduced. While self-deprecation can highlight flaws in your approach to life, self-criticism is more concerned with addressing those flaws and then acting to correct them.

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Self-Criticism: A Roadmap for Positive Change

Self-evaluation as a tool can open your eyes to the problematic behaviors that are derailing your goals. By identifying those behaviors, you can identify the steps to become the best version of yourself.

“Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Amy Morin[2]

This idea underlines the importance of not allowing self-criticism to blur into the realm of self-deprecating behavior. That will only work against you as you are attempting to constructively analyze your own behavior.

Auditing is necessary and good. Look at industries across the board and you will find that the most successful companies, people, and products have worked hard to refine their final output. Auditing your life, schedule, clients, contacts, and more will help you to identify the good from the bad.

If you don’t look back on what you’ve done and allow yourself to be self-critical of the areas that created more problems and less results, how will you learn how to avoid those missteps in your future endeavors?

Auditing with critical thoughts will allow you to build your own map to success by targeting behaviors that are ineffective in your pursuit of goals, and it will help you realize the changes that need to take place in order to correct for those inefficiencies.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Opens Your Eyes to Areas of Improvement

In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now.

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At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

You can check out this TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness:

We all need to look in the mirror at times and work to identify the deficiencies in our own behavior in order to find room for improvement. So many people live their lives in a manner that allows no room for self-reflection and thus are missing out on key opportunities.

For example, many people complain about not having the money to save for retirement, but instead of working to identify a solution, they assume that it cannot be fixed. Some of those individuals might find that if they challenge themselves and open themselves up to criticism, they may find the source of their problem.

Perhaps they don’t have a proper budget in place and are spending more money than they bring in on a week-to-week basis. Being self-critical would help them realize this.

I’d argue that if we all spent more energy evaluating our place in life, how we got there, and where we want to go, it would clear up what is missing from the equation.

Self-Criticism Allows You to Realize Your Potential

By working to analyze your own behaviors and identify areas that need to be improved upon, you will be able to better strive to reach your full potential in life and unlock success.

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Being self-critical will help you to go from where you are now to where you want to be, and it will increase your self-awareness. There are so many positives to be gained by adopting a self-critical attitude.

Read more about self-improvement: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

The Cons of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives

The problems that could arise if one is overly self-critical are not always clear, but there are a few issues that can pop up if you start being too hard on yourself.

If you are self-critical too often and don’t allow space in your own audit of yourself for praise, celebration, and reassurance in your victories, then you may be on a path of negative self-talk and perhaps even depression.

If you are constantly looking for what is wrong with your actions or pursuits while failing to see what you are doing right, then you aren’t utilizing self-criticism properly. While the line is thin, there is definitely a difference between appropriate, foundation-building self-criticism, and over-zealous, confidence-eroding self-deprecation.

Self-Criticism Can Lead to Negative Distortions of Yourself

One struggle I often see in individuals is with their own perception of self. If you have been raised to believe that you are a failure, for example, then you may not have a healthy expectation of yourself.

By being overly self-critical, you might be distorting your own self-image. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

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If utilized properly, self-criticism can be a fantastic tool, but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects on your own self-worth and confidence.

Final Thoughts

When used properly, self-criticism can be a tool for success.

We must work hard to ensure that we are in fact exercising a constructive analysis of our own behavior and not falling into self-deprecation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many view the idea of being self-critical with a negative connotation. However, it can be an extremely positive and fruitful exercise if pursued with the right mindset.

It helps tremendously when you have a community of friends and family who also help to uplift you and encourage you as you are pursuing your dreams in life.

In evaluating your own situation and in attempting to constructively self-criticize, you should also take a look at the people you surround yourself with to try and better understand if those individuals are helping you in your aspirations or if they are holding you back as you work to better yourself.

“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn[3]

If you work to adopt a healthy version of self-criticism and avoid allowing it to delve into self-deprecation or self-doubt, then it will serve you well as a tool to lend support to your goals and aspirations.

More Tips About Building Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell via unsplash.com

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