Self-criticism can be particularly difficult as we are both the giver and receiver of critical information through our own self-evaluation and self-talk; we are saying these things about ourselves. Research has shown that we are often not objective in our examination of the issues and we often focus on the negative to the exclusion of all else. In fact, this overly and overtly negative orientation is a key feature of criticism of both self and others. Unfortunately this negative focus can take its toll on our interpersonal relationships.
Clearly we cannot eliminate our own internal dialogue, but we can work to address it more effectively. Some use self-critical thought to move them into action, some use it to procrastinate, others use it to motivate. If you use it to find those things on which you can improve that is great.
As with most other aspects of dealing with self-criticism, the key is to evaluate and assess; appraise whether what you are saying to yourself is fair, accurate, and tells the complete story. It may be based on a relatively insignificant comment from the perspective of another that we unfairly overweigh or on an incomplete understanding of events. Ask yourself: How accurate is the information? From whom did you receive the information? Is it based on facts or conclusions? Is there a likelihood of other information of which I am unaware that might sway my perception? What other considerations are there for this event? Does this address a problem or a symptom? Can I do anything about it? Am I fairly assessing the whole situation?
Although it may be true that there were other things that could have been done differently, we all make mistakes and it is seldom productive to relive them over and over. The goal is to better assess what might be helpful in the future rather than continually beating yourself up over something that happened in the past which you cannot change.
How does your self-talk motivate you?
Written by Randy Garner
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