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If You Are Always Criticizing Your Partner, Read This

If You Are Always Criticizing Your Partner, Read This

Constructive criticism does not hurt.  It advises and informs. If you take it up another notch beyond constructive, it can destroy someone’s life.  You may think you are helping if you are always criticizing your partner, but something else is happening.  You find yourself alone or trapped in a negative cycle.  There are consequences when you point a finger at someone.  Here are 10 bad side effects of criticizing your partner:

1. He/she will hide things from you

Your partner may be tempted to keep secrets if you routinely spew negativity and criticism.  If you are always criticizing your partner, think twice.  Your partner may be taking on new risks/challenges without you knowing.  You may be missing out on their growth, learning experiences, and the intimacy of a healthy relationship.

2. He/she will secretly resent you

A build up of criticism can lead to closeted resentment.  Resentment shows up when you most need your partner—on your deathbed or co-signing on a loan.  Resentment is worse than hate because, like the background music in an elevator, you don’t always notice.  It’s there while everything else looks normal. Walking around with resentment is painful and makes others vulnerable to future hurt.

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3. He/she will not give you the space to make your own mistakes

Sitting on a person’s pedestal may be nice in the beginning.  The overly criticized partner will admire you, perhaps too much.  They will give you no room to mess up, as you become the light to their darkness.  If you are always criticizing your partner, you inadvertently build your own jail.

4. He/she may seek validation online or elsewhere

A partner who is overly criticized needs an outlet.  It can be as innocent as reading a book alone or more risky like venting to someone who is emotionally available, caring and compassionate.  Leaving the door open to this can create dire consequences that can lead to the end of your relationship.

5. He/she will tune you out

After consistent criticizing, your partner will stop listening and stop caring.  Wait, what’s that you said?  Exactly.

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6. He/she will see you as a burden

Nobody wants to go into a relationship with a job.  Daily life is enough of a hassle.  If your partner overly criticizes you, you may see them as a drag, a burden, and a problem.  Your overly criticized partner may want to stay with you, but they simply cannot handle doing the work.

7. He/she will become a punching bag for the qualities you hate about yourself

Like everyone else, your partner is a reflection of your innermost self—some parts you don’t even know.  Criticizing your partner is an act of projection.  Your partner may look like they have the problem, when it’s really you. Is your partner always late?  You reminded him/her for the thousandth time.  You may see this as an act of disrespect when your teachers in elementary school ignored you.  Now, it’s up to your partner to make you feel good again.  Fix your own life, first.

8. He/she will lose self-confidence

Keep criticizing your partner and they will lose the energy to live life to the fullest.  They may become indecisive, disempowered and complacent.  Would you be happy with a partner like that? Consider how that would affect your life.

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9. He/she will become dependent on you

Your partner may give up completely.  After constantly complaining to your partner that he/she does not help out around the house, they may stop altogether.  You’ll end up with the brunt of all the tasks, decision making, and planning in more than one area of your life.  Congratulations, you just created your own worst nightmare.

10. He/she will lose courage to try new things to advance their lives

Worst of all, an overly criticized partner may become stuck and stagnant.  Regret will grow in them each day for the life they did not live or the places they did not go.  They will blame you, whether it is fair or not.

Then how to give constructive criticism lovingly?

  • Choose the right time: Never judge your parter when he/she has just gone through a tough time. Only give constructive criticism when they are calm and they can give you their full attention.
  • Go for dialogue rather than monologue: No one likes being told to do something so make sure you can create a space where both of you can express your thoughts and listen to each other’s point of view.
  • Show appreciation before giving criticism: If you want your partner to accept your criticism, always highlight what you appreciate him/her first. After they let their guard down and know that you have good intention, they will take your criticism more positively.

Keep in mind, everyone is responsible for his or her own life.  You can’t make an overly criticized partner give up unless they already wanted to, or had talked themselves into it.  However, if you are always criticizing your partner, you can make it a lot easier.  Instead, choose your words carefully. Give advice only when asked and show empathy more often. What you do to others, will in some way be done to you—literally or figuratively.  Think wisely.

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Featured photo credit: Caleb George via ununsplash.imgix.net

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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