“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
How to Stop Being Self Critical
Learning how to stop being self critical is a very important skill to learn during your journey throughout life. One of the realizations you may have when trying to improve yourself and achieving your goals is how critical you can be of not only yourself but also everyone around you. Things like judging others on their life path and how you are potentially so much better because of what you are doing. Whats worse is when you are critical of yourself. “I could’ve done that better” or “Why did I do that”. When you are self critical and are nit picking your life it just distracts you and keeps you unhappy.
Why Are We Self Critical
To a certain degree it is okay to be self critical. It is how we learn from our mistakes. But when it gets to the point where a person finds a flaw in everything they do we call this a perfectionist.
The root of the problem here is that perfectionists and people who are irrationally self critical of themselves refuse to face reality. In the Paradox of Choice Barry Scwartz talks about how in modern society we have an overabundance of choice. He mentions that people deal with this overabundance in two ways; ‘maximizers’ and ‘satisfiers’.
When you go to a store for a backpack, a maximizer will go to the store and will try to find the best backpack. He will compare 20 different backpacks, look at reviews, the colors, durability, and the one with the best price for the best value.
The satisfier will walk in – see 20 backpacks and will say – “Well, its just a backpack – i’ll narrow it down to 3, spend 5 minutes thinking about it and buy it.”.
The maximizer may have found the best backpack at the time but the maximizer is ultimately less happy. The main reason is because the maximizer does not accept reality. The reality that you can’t find the best backpack.
When a new backpack comes out or a new sale happens the maximizer will say “Damn, I should’ve waited before getting my backpack”. In contrast, the satisfier will say “That backpack might be better but who cares, I already have my backpack.”
The satisfier’s acceptance of reality that not everything he does will pan out the way he wants ultimately makes him more happy than the maximizer. Although we all want to be maximizers and do everything the best – it ultimately leads to unhappiness.
Focus On The Process Not The Results
I forget where I heard this but there is a quote that I think resonates well with this topic.
“Art is not done for the sake of perfectionism. Art is done for the sake of joy.” An artist gets his or her joy from doing art not completing the artwork. Although, it feels good to complete a piece of art an artist is happier in the process than in the result.
If you have ambition or a life goal you should consider yourself an artist. Your life is a canvas and you’re creating your own life. The process of creating your life is a very creative art. You should be finding joy in the entire process – even in the imperfections. Don’t focus your mind on the outcome focus instead on the process.
Realize that you will make mistakes. You are in it for the long haul. If you want to be the best at your craft you have to expect mistakes on your journey.
Stop Being Critical of Others
A good way to tell if you are self critical is if you find that you are constantly critical of others. If you are critical of others you will naturally hold yourself to that same standard.
So in order to stop being self critical you need to stop being critical in general. Realize how much your holding yourself back by being critical of others.
Lower your standards for what is acceptable and learn to forgive others mistakes and you will forgive yourself when you make those same mistakes.
A Quick Disclaimer
Before ending I do want to say that I am not saying that you should ignore your flaws. What I am saying is to expect that you are flawed. Expect to make mistakes you are a human and don’t be critical of others for making mistakes either. I’m all for learning from your mistakes but what you shouldn’t do is beat yourself up for those mistakes.
Although we should strive to be our best, trying to make everything perfect in a world where nothing is perfect is refusing to face reality. The truth is nothing you do will ever be perfect. The only thing you can do is try the best you possibly can and expect some mistakes in this journey we call life.
Have a great day!
This is a interesting video done by DrPurves. I think he makes some good points. If you want more information, feel free to check it out below.