September 27, 2023

4 Thoughts to Help You Move Beyond Harsh Self-Criticism

Author: George Couros
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I have been reading the “Marc and Angel Hack Life” blog for years, and it always gives me a little mental boost after soaking in some of the ideas. I don’t agree with everything that is written on there but it often makes me think, and the way they write with an emotional connection is powerful.

When I read “Don’t Be Afraid to Do These 10 Hard Things for Yourself” I appreciated much of the advice, such as, “Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to unnecessary obligations” since when we say “yes” to others too often we say “no” to ourselves in the same breath.  I am not saying that we shouldn’t help others, but educators especially, often give so much of themselves that they have very little for those closest to them even less for themselves.  I love the following saying:

I have learned to say “no” more often as of late without as much guilt as I once felt.

But this one stuck out to me:

10.  Don’t be afraid of other people’s empty judgments.

The greatest and most gratifying experiences in life cannot be seen or touched.  They must be felt with the heart from the inside out.  There’s nothing more inspiring than the complexity and beauty of human, heartfelt feelings.  Sadly though, many people let the fear of judgment numb and silence them.  Their deepest thoughts and feelings often go unspoken, and thus barely understood.

Do NOT let people invalidate or minimize how you feel.  If you feel something, you feel it and it’s real to you.  Nothing anyone says has the power to invalidate that, ever.  No one else occupies your body, or sees life through your eyes.  No one else has lived through your exact experiences.  And so, no one else has the right to dictate or judge how you feel.  Your feelings are important.  Never let anyone or any circumstance lead you to believe otherwise.

Remind yourself that there is a great freedom in leaving others to their opinions, and there is a huge weight lifted when you take nothing personally.

There is a lot to digest from the above thoughts but here is something that I have struggled with personally and I know it has held me back.

We can easily get caught up in the negative thoughts of others when often any change we make in the views of those same people you will still be criticized. This is not to say that anyone is perfect and is above valid criticism, but some are critics of certain people due to their insecurities or different belief system, or they just might not like you and never will.  That is a reality.

I struggle with my own (many) insecurities, and when I get caught up in it, I do my best to lift others, not bring them down. It can become easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel of negativity, but I know that criticizing others for the sake of doing it empties my self-esteem in the process.  I have focused on this mantra:

I have tried to focus on a few things to help me deal with those insecurities:

  1. What is my purpose?
  2. How can I serve others?
  3. How can I build on my strengths?
  4. How do I learn and identify my shortcomings and mistakes and grow from the process?

The harshest judgment many deal with is self-judgment.  Holding ourselves to a high standard is not the same as holding ourselves to an impossible standard.  We all falter and not one person I have ever met is infallible, but it is essential to distinguish between “high standards” and “impossible standards.”

Embrace your imperfections, learn from them, and learn from those that you care about and who care about you. It will only help you grow.

Source: George Couros

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