Are you hard on yourself every time you fail at work, in relationships, or at school? Or you just turn to self-protective strategies such as blaming other people and downgrading importance of the failure?
Now... I know what you’re thinking:
“How can self-criticism make me successful? Who likes to be criticized?”
I absolutely agree. No one likes to have their actions questioned. However, success is not just about accepting the responsibility for a bad decision. Neither it is about denying our weaknesses.
It’s about improving yourself and avoid making excuses.
For many people, taking an objective and honest look at their actions and decisions is way easier said than done. It is a human nature to think that everything we do is right and there is no better way than ours.
Those who try to confront our inner demons often find it a bit overwhelming. Other avoid it because of feelings of despair and hopelessness that come with the realization that something they’ve done was wrong.
This issue can be approached from another angle.
The main intent of self-criticism should be not to downgrade yourself but to find the ways to strengthen the weaknesses.
This is where the definition of constructive self-criticism comes in.
How Constructive Self-Criticism Can Make You Successful
The Two Options
There are two primary options when faced with a failure: protect yourself (a) or take responsibility for the outcome and try to improve yourself (b).
a) Protect Yourself and Sabotage Yourself
If you choose the first option, you are more likely to repeat the mistake and are unlikely to put any effort into improving yourself.
Think about it: you downgraded the event, so it’s not important. You decided to blame other people, so you’re good. No biggie.
The bad news here is that this thinking can lead to a pattern of failure.
Failure & Mistake > Self-Protection > No improvement > Another Failure
b) Take Responsibility & Improve Yourself
The second option is to avoid making excuses and try to improve yourself. This one can be a lot better than the previous if done correctly. Here are 3 simples rules to follow in order to develop constructive self-criticism:
1. Criticize Only Changeable Behaviors
It is a known fact that if people blame their permanent aspects for their mistakes.
For example: “I just don’t understand math”.
They are more likely to develop depression and other health problems, by thinking and talking to themselves in that destructive way.
Using a constructive criticism leads to more positive outcomes since it focuses on modifiable areas of improvement.
For the given example you should ask yourself: "How can I improve in math?".
You acknowledge that you aren't good at math, but you also understand that you can do something about it, perhaps changing your behavior by finding new ways of studying is the way.
You improve specific skills that are fundamental to make you successful.
2. Analyze External Conditions & Eliminate Them Next Time
Even if you are the one who committed a mistake, there may be some circumstances that pushed you in that direction.
For example: you could not prepare a report for your job because there were some problems with your computer.
Instead of using this circumstance as an excuse, you should prevent it from happening. Next time, you get everything fixed so there won’t be any problems.
You increase the chances of a more positive outcome by having things prepared
and in good condition.
3. Be Self-Compassionate
If you are sensitive to self-criticism and cannot bear it, there is something you can do to harness its benefits.
It’s called self-compassion and it would be your safety net to land in the areas that you are even afraid to look at.
In other words, it means admitting the mistakes but also acknowledging that they don’t make you a bad person.
You start to Love Yourself and see Yourself as the Solution to the Problem,
(contrary to developing a depressive state of mind where you blame yourself constantly).
The big thing here is that instead of the pattern of failure, you develop a more powerful one!
Failure & Mistake > Constructive Self-Criticism > Improvement > Better Outcome
If you follow the rules above and develop a constructive self-critical mindset, you can get this type of benefits that will surely improve by far your chances of succeeding:
A. Constant Improvement of Skills
The people who use constructive criticism tend to analyze the situation regardless of the outcome for them and others.
This way, they discover new ways to improve themselves and make everyone around them better by default.
B. Increased Self-Awareness
Given that you know exactly where you need to improve, you are more self-aware than others.
This is a critical condition if you want to keep developing and improve as a professional.
You know your value and you are humble enough to point that you can recognize areas of improvement, instead of tearing yourself apart.
C. Reduced Impact of Failures
For some people, failures (even though they carry valuable lessons) can be a very painful experience that can set them back.
In contrast, using constructive self-criticism after a failure is a way to identify the best way of approaching the problem.
As the result, you know when you gave something your best effort. This means that you should not be hard on yourself because you tried your best.
Isn’t that enough? Eventually, you can decrease the negative impact of failures because there was nothing you could do to prevent it.
D. You Listen Better You Reply Better
Those who prefer constructive self-criticism are more skillful listeners.
It’s because they seek feedback from others in an effort to improve the outcome under similar conditions the next time.
They can accurately select the best information from what they hear from others, and really improve in those areas, by giving the right answer to the question life is asking them.
Constructive self-criticism is the “right” kind of criticism that actually has a lot of positive benefits.
Although negative situations occur in your life, you can turn them into positive by understanding how you can improve using constructive self-criticism.
Clearly, you could use it as a tool to improve your skills in the future because it’s respectful, compassionate and can make you successful in whatever you do.
We hope now you can start to embrace constructive self-criticism more
and become successful using it.
If you find this article useful for you it can also add great value to others,
do so by sharing it in your favorite social network using the buttons below or sideways.
He works at Awriter.
He has degree in Law and English.