How to Stop Being Too Critical of Yourself and Others
Who loves a complainer? Not many people I know. If you’re constantly putting yourself down, you stress yourself out, and when you become too tense, you vent on anyone you feel isn’t performing up to snuff.
Is this an effective way to win people to your side and boost productivity? Absolutely not — whether we criticize ourselves or others, we mess up our mojo and flow. Here’s how to stop being too critical of yourself first so you can stop snapping at others, too.
1. Remember Everyone Is Learning
If you have a chance, make an online friend or pen pal from another nation. Why? When you know someone lives on the other side of the globe, you patiently explain things they do not understand about your own culture. You don’t put them down for not knowing — after all, unless you’ve lived there, how much do you know about daily life in say, Pakistan?
Now, put this attitude to work with yourself and those you work with and love. The next time your child runs in with muddy shoes, ask him, “Do you think it’s fair to make me mop up your mess,” instead of flipping out.
When he says no, hand him the mop and thank him when he does his best to clean the mess up himself (and resist the urge to immediately clean the streaks he left).
2. Write Down Your Thoughts
It’s easy to fall into the pattern of negative self-talk. The next time you discover you’re ragging on yourself mentally, write your thoughts down on paper. Your mind automatically gravitates to the negative, and writing down a list of all the positive things you accomplished any given day can reset your brain to a more neutral state.
3. Talk to Yourself as You Would a Friend
Chances are, you’d speak far more kindly to another than you do to yourself internally. When you make a mistake at work, for example, instead of berating yourself for being stupid, praise yourself for your savvy in catching the error so quickly. Your brain switches gears to the positive when you do so, and you’re able to fix the problem instead of wasting time on negative thinking.
4. Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works by helping you reframe your thoughts and, in doing so, regulate your emotions in a healthy way.
CBT can teach you how to transform thoughts like, “I am a failure who never does anything right,” into, “I’ve learned what not to do; now I can focus on how to proceed differently.” If your employer offers an assistance program, consider taking advantage, or contact your health insurer for a provider list.
5. Keep a List of Your Successes
Sometimes, when you’re feeling low, it’s hard to look on the proverbial bright side when in the dark seemingly without a light switch.
Keep a list of your greatest accomplishments in your purse or briefcase. Take it out and reread it every time you need to stop being too critical of yourself.
6. Remember the Consequences of Criticism
Negative criticism takes a huge toll on people’s self-esteem, especially if it becomes chronic. Before you cut yourself or others verbally, pause and reflect on the consequences of doing so.
Obviously, negatively criticizing your boss can land you in the unemployment line, but constantly slashing the coworker you dislike with your tongue creates a toxic work environment — who can do their productive best in such a place?
7. Follow Each Complaint With a Solution
Sometimes, criticism bears merit, but nothing will improve if the problem is not addressed. Every time you criticize your own performance or someone else’s, follow the negative statement with a proposed solution or a suggestion for making things better.
If you find yourself looking at the clock at 3 p.m. and berating yourself for laziness for having so much work left to do, for example, propose a solution for the problem.
Maybe you can come in 15 minutes earlier, work from a to-do list or lock your cell phone in your desk to boost productivity earlier in the day.
Chill Out — Stop Being Too Critical of Yourself
When you’re being too critical of yourself, you steal the joy from your own life. And when you are constantly putting yourself down, it follows naturally this practice extends to others.
Follow the tips above, and start feeling more positive, more productive and less down on yourself!