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Last Updated on November 26, 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

Reference

More by this author

Colton Black

Motivational Coach, Self-Help Blogger, Recording Engineer, Professional Dad

What the Road to Success Actually Looks Like in Reality 15 Simple Things You Can Do to Boost Your Daily Motivation I’m Stuck! 7 Steps to Take When You’re Feeling Stuck in Life The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance) How to Identify and Leverage Your Personal Strengths

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

How To Focus on the Positive To Achieve Your Goal In Life

How To Focus on the Positive To Achieve Your Goal In Life

Focusing on the positive seems harder than ever. A global pandemic, civil unrest, and political tensions galore have made thies year tough.

In spite of all the challenges this year has thrown at you, there are ways you can stay positive and continue to pursue your life’s goals. Remember, more trials are yet to come. You need to be able to overcome them all in order to turn your dreams into realities.

Motivation can be tough to come by in times like these. Here’s how you can keep your head up and keep moving forward:

1. Perform an Attitude Check

Whenever you hit a snag in your life, take a step back. Think about how you’re reacting to the situation. Are you thinking rationally? Is your behavior warranted? Are your actions helping or hurting your cause?

If you take the time to evaluate yourself, you’ll be able to stop negativity in its tracks. With a little practice, you’ll learn to reframe pessimistic thoughts into more positive, realistic ones.

2. Keep a Journal

Even on the bleakest of days, you can come up with one shred of silver lining. All it takes is a little reflection.

At least once a day, make a point to jot down something good about your day in your journal. By focusing on your blessings, you’ll start to see more and more of them.

Also, use this journal to record progress you make toward your life goals. If you want to become a professional athlete, write down your day’s workout routine. Day by day, you’ll see just how much progress you’ve made. Look back at your journal entries on tough days, and they will remind you of how far you’ve come.

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3. Surround Yourself With Similar People

When you’re on your own, it’s much easier to get discouraged. The solution is to find a support group.

Communities exist for every conceivable interest. If you’re a freelance writer, Writers Guild of America can help you hone your skills. If you’re a combat veteran, All the Way Home can get you outdoors with other wounded warriors. If you like trivia, join a local quiz bowl team.

Don’t underestimate The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You.

4. Quantify Your Goals

Pursuing your goals will get frustrating if you don’t give yourself specific markers of success. The solution is to put hard numbers to your goals.

For example, if your life goal is to become wealthy, how rich is rich enough? Will you be satisfied with $1 million? What about $10 million? Unless you have a figure in mind, you’ll never feel like you have enough.

Even more ambiguous goals can be quantified. Maybe being happy for you means getting out of debt and spending at least 10 hours per week with family and friends.

Learn about how to set goals in this article: How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully

2. Remember Your ‘Why’

While reaching for your goals, you can’t lose sight of your “why.” This is what pushes you through the bad days and motivates you to keep going. Without a “why,” your goals might start to seem arbitrary.

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If you have a goal to run a marathon, what gets you on your feet every morning? Is it to get in shape? Perhaps it’s to feel a sense of accomplishment as you cross the finish line. Keeping your “why” top of mind will get you out the door when you don’t feel like training.

3. Tell Others About Your Progress

Public recognition is a powerful thing. When you hit a new milestone, share it publicly. Not only will you feel good doing so, but you’ll be more motivated to reach the next one.

Say you have a sales quota at work. Announce when you’ve hit 50%, 75%, and 100% of your goal, and encourage others to do the same. Celebrating together encourages the whole team to stay positive and to reach higher.

4. Develop a Mantra

“Just do it.” Sound familiar? Nike’s motto is also an excellent example of a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase you repeat to yourself for motivation when times get tough.

Mantras are commonly used by professional athletes who need to keep a level head while performing under extreme physical stress.[1] But mantras work just as well to get people through mentally or emotionally taxing periods.

Make your mantra meaningful and easy to remember. When you need a boost, you can say it out loud or simply think it to yourself. You can get some inspirations from these 50 Self-Affirmations to Help You Stay Motivated Every Day.

5. Try Meditation

When you get too wrapped up in the negative, it can be tough to think your way out of it. When that happens, turn to meditation. Meditation helps you calm your mind and see problems with fresh eyes.

The best part is, there’s no “wrong” way to meditate. You can do a guided meditation, or simply shut yourself away in a quiet place and listen to your breathing.

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If you’re not sure where to start, download a meditation app. Popular options include Headspace, Calm, and Sattva. After a few sessions, you’ll feel the difference.

6. Make Time for Yourself

Pursuing your goals and fighting off the worries of the world can take a toll on your wellbeing. A little “me time” can get you back on track.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off. Use this day to indulge in a hobby, a favorite TV show, or even just a nap. When you get back to the grind, you’ll be that much more productive.

Learn How to Take Time for Yourself and Restore Your Energy.

7. Get Enough Sleep

How many people do you know who do their best work when they don’t get enough sleep? Chances are, it’s the same as the number of Super Bowl rings in the Cleveland Browns’ trophy case (hint: zero).

When you’re sleep deprived, a positive outlook can be elusive.[2] Develop a night routine that helps you put your devices away and get to bed on time.

If you still struggle to get the sleep you need, try supplements like melatonin. Speak with your doctor if conditions like sleep apnea are interrupting your rest.

8. Exercise Regularly

No doubt: Exercise is important for your physical health. But did you know it can also lift you up mentally and emotionally? Exercise releases endorphins in your brain. These chemicals combat pain, stress, and even depression.

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Unless you live on a farm an hour outside the nearest city, you’ll find a gym nearby. If a gym membership isn’t in your budget, you can do calisthenic exercises at home or take up running. Another good option is yoga, which can also improve your balance and focus.

9. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

What you put into your body is just as important as what you do with it. A healthy diet coupled with plenty of water is key if you want to function at your peak. Junk foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol can sap your energy and harm your self-esteem.

If you have trouble sticking with your diet, set up a meal plan. Portion out meals for yourself so you don’t eat too much or too little. Set reminders in your calendar to ensure you sip water throughout the day. Here’s How to Find a Healthy Eating Plan That Actually Works for You.

10. Switch Up Your Routine

Doing the same thing day in and day out can get old. And when your life gets stale, you may struggle for motivation or a positive outlook.

Don’t let yourself fall into a rut. When you do, try a different approach. Changing course even slightly can help you see things in a new light. Instead of taking a walk at noon, for instance, could you go on one before work?

Take this same approach to your professional development. If you’re sick of learning about physics, it’s going to be tough to become the next Albert Einstein. What about a dose of math or chemistry?

Final Thoughts

Despite all these tactics you can use to stay positive and accomplish what you want in life, the most important one can be summed up in three words: Don’t give up!

Quitting won’t get you any closer to your goals, nor will it put you in a positive headspace. Use this guide to keep moving forward no matter how difficult life can be.

More on How To Think Positive

Featured photo credit: Sander Crombach via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Built For Athletes: 6 Real Mantras Used By Elite Athletes
[2] Harvard: Sleep and Mental Health

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