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Last Updated on April 17, 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 is 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 as compared with self-deprecating behavior.

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.

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 – but 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 becoming a better version of you. There is of course, as in all areas of life, 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.

The Audit Example

I’ll give an example from one of Rachel Hollis’s recent podcasts:

She discussed the idea of a yearly calendar audit in which she looks at all of her appointments from the past year and tries to identify which meetings led to great business success and which ones were essentially wastes of time.

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She tried to recognize patterns in the winners versus the losers so that she could hopefully cut out more of the dead-end appointments in order to create room for more successful meetings that were fruitful to her long term goals. [1]

If we could all use this method, taking the time to reduce inefficiencies in our own behavior and increase productive usage of time, then of course we would see better results in time that allow for future success!

How can you analyze your own yearly ventures from 2019 in order to help create a better path to success in 2020?

I’d argue that the first step is to analyze the process of self-criticism in order to better understand the pros and cons behind such a strategy and in order to increase your potential for future success in your pursuits.

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 take 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?

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Auditing 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

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.

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

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.

Being self-critical allows us to realize a better life that is more intentional and allows for a clear trajectory of success.

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 clearer what is missing from the equation that might be disallowing those plans or desires from coming to fruition.

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 as an individual 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 seek 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

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives While Under-Emphasizing Positives

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 one starts being too hard on oneself.

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 we are constantly looking for what is wrong with our actions or pursuits while failing to see what we are doing right, then we 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, which of course would be a very bad thing. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

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

In reality, there aren’t many cons to self-criticism. In fact, the only cons that materialize are when you take self-criticism too far and it transforms into self-doubt and negative thought patterns.

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When used properly, self-criticism is the key to 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.

Of course, one must utilize the tool of self-criticism in a healthy manner, or it can too easily delve into the arena of negativity, which will only derail you from your overall goals and pursuits.

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]

In working to evaluate your own life and identify areas of improvement, you must also look at those who keep your company. There is no doubt that they will impact your walk in life and how high you can soar in pursuit of becoming a better you.

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

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Colton Black

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

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Last Updated on May 22, 2020

Think Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

Think Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

Positive thinking is one of the most touted philosophies in the world. The advantages of positive mantras have been presented by authors and motivational speakers around the world. However, value affirmation may be more effective.

Do these techniques really work? Why would repeating a simple, positive phrase change the way you think and feel? Those are the questions we’re going to dive in to.

Decoding Positive Thinking

Positive thinking[1] is about developing our mindset in such a way that we expect good and favorable outcomes from events in our life. In other words, it’s the process of transferring our energy into reality by thinking optimistic thoughts.

This doesn’t mean we are unrealistic about the possibilities. Positive thinking is about recognizing all of the possible outcomes but choosing to focus on those that are positive and offer improvements to our lives.

Does Positive Thinking Work?

While many people believe that positive thinking leads you to the path of happiness, there are others who think otherwise. Both sides have put forward many compelling reasons supporting their views. While the argument may never end, the detractors have many reasons to believe that positive thinking, in isolation, doesn’t do much for our mental health. Here are some ways positive mantras can backfire.

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How Positive Mantras Can Do Harm

While positive mantras can be a good addition to a routine when understood, there are some downsides that you should be aware of.

1. Suppression of Negative Emotions

If we use positive mantras [2] too frequently, it might work for a shorter period, but in the long run, it may cause adverse consequences. Why?

When we use a positive mantra, it tends to suppress our negative emotions. If it continues for an extended time and becomes a habit, then we might be overwhelmed by even more negative feelings at times when the results are not as expected, as there should be a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions in life. The balance of positive and negative feelings in life is what helps us to accept challenges and overcome them.

2. Actions Speak Louder Than Mantras

Additionally, uttering positive mantras in our life might work sometimes, and also, to channel the energy into reality, utter faith and absolute belief are required. However, the mantras most definitely prove themselves useless if we just keep chanting positive mantras but fail to put into action the message that the mantra is supposed to convey.

As a consequence, we might be caught off guard by negative vibes and feel highly frustrated because our mind will immediately conjure up many negative thoughts.

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For instance, if you believe that a perfect body is the one with well-toned abs and biceps, and you keep on insisting that you have a perfect body, then your mind will start searching for the so-called negatives in your body. You will be insecure about the little bit of belly protruding out, your waistline, and even your arms. This will make you more insecure about your body and will depress you even more.

3. Production of Delusional Thinking

A fact is a fact; it won’t change irrespective of the situations and time and won’t change even when you utter positive mantras your whole life. For example, if you are a little short on money, you aren’t going to miraculously solve your financial problems just because you utter positive mantras a million times. It will be much better if you accept the reality and work towards dealing with it.

For example, if you have loan problems, you should work on personal budgeting instead of living with a false sense of security. This will make you happier in the long run.

Let’s take another scenario as an example. You have an exam tomorrow, and you are not prepared well. You’re time would be better spent studying the information you’re lacking rather than repeating a positive mantra to convince yourself that you will be fine. Ultimately, the positive thinking will help you feel more confident on the answers you already know, but it won’t conjure up information you didn’t study for. Conjuring fantasies to wrap up reality is no way to answer any question in the real world.

Hard work is key to success in our life. If you have worked hard, then despite all the negative thoughts that might surround your head instinctively, you are going to perform better. However, if you haven’t put in enough work, then no matter how many times you say that you are going to be successful, it won’t be enough.

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4. Increase Low Self-Esteem

A study has also shown that positive thinking works well if you have very high self-esteem. However, if you have low self-esteem and utter positive mantras, it will only strengthen your negative mindset when there are met by set-backs[3]. This will result in many negative feelings.

For example, if a good football player believes that he is going to be the best, then it will act as a buffer to help him perform to his potential. However, if a player with low self-esteem thinks that he is going to be the best player in the world, he will get discouraged when he realizes he isn’t doing as well as he hoped.

Alternative to Positive Mantras

If you are a believer in positive mantras, and you are beginning to doubt its functionality, what will you do? Don’t fret, because there is another theory called value affirmation that might help you.

What is Value Affirmation?

First of all, values are the beliefs which we think are desirable and ideal. Our values are dynamic as they are changing and reshaping as we experience new things in our life. Therefore, it is necessary that we update our values constantly so our objective in life resembles the values we believe in.

If we are aware of our values, it will help to maintain balance in our life. If there is an imbalance between our value and aim, it will undermine our motivation to do things. Hence, value affirmation is recognizing and defining the values we believe in rather than repeatedly saying positive sentences that may or may not hold significance for us.

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Do Value Affirmations Work?

In a recent survey[4], students in one of the universities were chosen randomly to write about their values. Those students who were selected performed very nicely in their college years in comparison to those students who had not taken part. This was repeated again with the same success in the Hispanic community and African-American community.

Therefore, the next time you find yourself chanting mantras to assure you that everything is going to be fine, stop. Instead, try to recognize your deeply rooted values and check whether your values are in balance with your actions and goals.

The Bottom Line

Positive mantras can be a great addition to a regular meditation practice or a good technique to use if you are secure in your self confidence and direction in life. However, if you’re feeling lost or having trouble tracking down your motivation, value affirmations may do more to help you as they’ll force you to take a good look at what really matters in your life.

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Featured photo credit: Kazi Mizan via unsplash.com

Reference

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