Being too self-critical is epidemic in our society. It’s almost a national pastime to beat ourselves up over real and imagined imperfections. We became unwitting devotees watching our parents and teachers direct their anger towards us with negative judgments and demeaning labels instead of channeling emotions in appropriate ways. Being receptive little students, we pledged allegiance to those unkind messages and internalized commitments to keep them alive. Today we know the words by heart and speak them inside without even thinking.
For many of us, the expression “you are your own worst enemy” holds a lot of truth. We’re torn between identifying with our “true self,” which is self-accepting, goal-directed, and life-affirming or the “self-critical self,” which mercilessly beats us up and thwarts our efforts to reach our goals.
Whenever we criticize ourselves, we compound the issue. We turn one problem into two — there’s the social blunder, poor financial decision, or disapproving glance in the mirror — and the demeaning self-loathing that follows.
We can systematically start to feel more self-love by recognizing when our critical inner messages start to play and relentlessly wage war.
Are you more than ready to silence the tyrant? Then try these four effective strategies to stop being self-critical when you make a mistake so you can show yourself more love:
Write down three self-appreciations each day. At the end of each week read your list out loud with conviction and enthusiasm. Adding a smile, or even half a smile while repeating your list, will give it a boost.
If this feels totally weird and you can’t come up with a single self-appreciation, start with something small. Name a specific positive trait, talent, or quality and look at yourself from this new perspective. Try something like:
Beating yourself up for not living up to impossible standards is a dead-end road that leads to Point Misery. See how wonderful you feel when you relentlessly focus on the good. Emphasizing your positive qualities and contradicting that internal critic will definitely improve your attitude about yourself. Starting today, turn your self-criticism into self-appreciation. You’ll feel the difference immediately and hear a new pledge of allegiance to the united states of Joy, Love, and Peace!
We all know some well intending (for the most part) souls who are happy to give us directives in everything from how to wear our hair to why we need to get a ‘real’ job to why we’re the reason our kid is failing algebra. Mom might tell you to ditch the boyfriend or stand up to the boss. Instead of biting your tongue or lashing out in frustration, it’s time to adopt a strategy to deal with all the unsolicited advice you’re getting in your life.
Their well-meaning 2-cents-worth is what I call, “you-ing.” They are telling you about you without your permission. That’s the opposite of the first Attitude Reconstruction communication rule, which is “talk about yourself” — stick to your “I.” You-ing naturally elicits anger. They are out of their own back yard. If you aren’t ready for or don’t want feedback, it’s counter productive.
According to Attitude Reconstruction, when you’re drowning in the sea of uninvited advice from others, remember these six tips:
Learning to tap in and listen to your own soul’s advice is always the biggest source of wisdom. But when others are bent on telling you the way your life needs to be, remember to honor yourself, to speak your truth and to say, ‘no thank you.’
Summer is the time when days are long and routines are more flexible. Wouldn’t you like to make this summer full of renewal, rejuvenation, and transformation? It’s attainable with just a little bit of forethought and planning, Embrace the idea, and you’ll have something to show for the summer – a change you can look back on and feel genuinely good about.
To make this shift requires putting yourself first. Realize you are making the choice to do something important for you. You can do this by taking a pause and asking yourself, “What would make me feel proud at the end of the summer?” You know!
Make a concrete plan to commit time to actualizing your goal. What you select needs to be reasonable and doable. Write it down. Get specific about logistics – exactly who, what, when, and where? Map out the time on your schedule.
Tell someone, preferably someone who also would also like to make this his or her best summer yet. Make an agreement to check in periodically, not for a guilt trip, but as a cheerleader and coach, offering encouragement and support.
Keep your goal in mind, ignore the excuses, and just do it. You’ll be proud of what you’ve accomplished and pleased with the results.
By the way, I’ll be leading a workshop about Attitude Reconstruction at the Hollyhock Learning Centre on Cortes Island, B.C., August 14 to 19. Click here for details.
It always feels good to have a personal cheerleader so I suggest you find one! Seeking support from another person might take a little courage. Maybe you’ll feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or concerned about imposing. Do it anyway.
Generate a list of possible candidates and choose one. Write out your request first, then feel your fear and dare to ask. If someone declines, don’t take it personally. Just try someone else. Ideally, the person you select will be working on making personal changes too, so you can cheer each other on.
Make contact at the appointed time. Watch out for making excuses not to check in. If you resist, deal with your emotions—shiver, cry or pound, then make the call. You’re both responsible to initiate your check-in, so don’t wait for the other person.
1. One person talks. The other just pays attention and listens. Set a timer so that you stick to the agreed-upon time each person will have.
2. Switch roles after the timer goes off.
3. Confirm your next check-in time.
4. Exchange appreciations.
The support person’s not there to take charge and tell you what to do. If she has her own stake in your changing, she’ll lose the ability to encourage you when you don’t meet her expectations. You want your cheerleader primarily to listen, look for the positive, and, with your permission, kindly point out attitudes or actions that seem counterproductive. If they’re upbeat, empathetic, congratulatory, and reliable, you’ve found the right person.
Seeing and hearing are natural gifts for us. Look at the way animals use their senses to their advantage. They can sense safety, danger, play, and even food! We can use our senses to determine if someone is swept up in sadness, anger, or fear. And then we can confidently know how to best offer help.
IDENTIFY THE EMOTION
With just a little practice, you’ll be able to recognize the emotions underneath other people’s demeanor, words, and actions. Rather than reacting to what they say or do, you can extend a communication “bridge” to help shift their emotional state by offering what they truly long to hear but don’t know how to ask for.
To figure out what emotion is probably going on, ask yourself “Where is their attention focused?”
IF THEY’RE FEELING SAD…
IF THEY’RE FEELING ANGRY…
IF THEY’RE FEELING FEAR…
If you’re unable or unwilling to offer a communication bridge, it’s probably because your own unexpressed emotions are getting in the way. It’s okay. You’re human. To quickly reignite your compassion, take a brief time-out and handle your own emotions or remind yourself of the objective reality. Then you will be able to look within your heart, and if appropriate, extend a bridge.
You’ll deepen your personal relationships when you become adept at recognizing other people’s emotions. You can use this knowledge to communicate in the ways most helpful to them. What an amazing talent you’ll be cultivating. For example, if you know that your husband is quick to anger, you can consciously listen silently and understand his position, especially at times when he is upset or under stress. If a workmate often seems glum or down, you can choose to validate her gifts and skills a little more often.
As soon as autumn comes, people’s thoughts begin to shift to the holidays, and sometimes those thoughts are accompanied by difficult feelings such as depression, frustration, and anxiety. For some, the holidays conjure up unpleasant associations, such as the first event without Grandma there, or prickly family get-togethers. Then there are financial worries, the pressure to come up with gift ideas, dealing with school kids on vacation, too many social obligations, and the list goes on.
This is my time of year because Attitude Reconstruction is all about creating joy, love, and peace. You see, my viewpoint is based on a theory that we all possess six emotions. Emotions are pure physical sensations in the body. Think about the word “emotion,” it’s E + motion = energy in motion.
Everywhere you look in the media, you’ll find coverage and outrage about physical assault, analysis about why partners stay in abusive relationships and why people feel justified to strike out. What you don’t see, however, are viable solutions to this widespread problem.
The news repeats images that make us cringe: Ray Rice clobbering his wife in the elevator; a man in Canada beating his dog to death and depositing it in a dumpster; a Connecticut CEO kicking and beating a dog in an elevator; Chris Brown hitting Rhianna. It’s no wonder expressing anger gets a bad rap. It can be aggressive and often abusive.
Attitude Reconstruction began as a Blueprint; a complete guide to our six emotions and the predictable things we think, feel, say and do as a result. I divided all behaviors associated with each emotion into four core attitudes along with their opposites. It wasn’t until years later, however, one over-arching concept emerged: three destructive Ultimate Attitudes associated with sadness, anger, and fear, and conversely, three constructive Ultimate Attitudes, associated with joy, love, and peace.
It always feels good to have a personal cheerleader so I suggest you find one! It may not always happen naturally. There are all different types of friendships, and not all will be the right ones for the emotional support you seek.
There is a way to be proactive, and create a positive situation where you and someone else share a needed role for each other. Seeking support from another person might take a little courage. Maybe you’ll feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or concerned about imposing. Do it anyway.
What if… One system explained, integrated, correlated all human behavior and identified the guiding force behind our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions?
We invite you to take our short survey.
Your answers will give you a picture of what emotions are running your life and what is holding you back from feeling joy, love and peace.