Do you want
To be happy,
Learn the beautiful art
– Sri Chinmoy
It is a fine balance between self encouragement and self-criticism. To honestly evaluate ourselves is a difficult task. We tend to either conveniently ignore our own faults or become too harsh on ourselves for small inconsequential things. We need a balance of self-encouragement and honest self-appraisal; getting the right balance is not so easy.
Tips for Self Criticism
Don’t Be Ashamed of your Faults.
If we can’t be honest with ourself who can we be honest with? The mind can be good at justifying our wrong actions and behaviour. But, clever self-justification is of no benefit in the long run. If we can be aware of our own pride, jealousy, insecurities then we have a chance to let go of them. But, if we always justify our wrong attitudes to ourself then we are lost.
One of the reasons we may seek to ignore our faults is that we feel guilty. Rather than feeling guilty we avoid criticising ourself. However, it is better to be self-critical without feelings of guilt. Guilt is an emotion that doesn’t help but makes us feel more inadequate. Become aware of what you want to change and see it is a positive movement.
Has to be
Our continuous choice.
– Sri Chinmoy
Don’t Judge By The Values of Others.
The biggest problem is that we start to judge ourselves by the standards of others. Our friends may have been put out because of something we did. Therefore, they try to make us feel guilty. Because others are critical of us, we feel obliged to feel guilty too. But, we have to be firm and reject others’ criticisms – if they are not justified. In the eyes of the world we may have done something wrong. But, only we know our inner attitude. We may have done something with the best of intentions and motivations, but, because of circumstances beyond our control, thing turn out badly. The world will criticise us, but, we know we did our best. How can we criticise ourselves for bad luck or circumstances beyond our control?
- At the same time, we may get praise when we don’t deserve it.
- Also, although we shouldn’t accept the misinformed critisims of others. We should be open to the suggestions of others. Often people can see things about ourselves that we can’t. Don’t be too proud to take advice / suggestions / criticism from others. It is not a sign of weakness to listen to other people. Our sincerity will know whether they are telling the truth or not.
Judge Motives rather than Outcome.
As mentioned in the previous point it is our inner attitude which is important. A small action done selflessly without expectation of reward is worth more than egoistic selfish actions which may appear to have a better outcome. It is our inner attitude that we need to be aware of.
When we start to criticise ourself it is easy to lose a sense of proportion and start beating ourselves up over a small issue. This is a real mistake. We might make small mistakes but, making them into big problems just makes the situation worse. Never lose a sense of proportion and don’t magnify small problems. At the same time don’t be dismissive of actions that are causing pain to others.
Self Criticism and Self Encouragement.
Focusing on the negative doesn’t help. The most effective self-criticism is to also learn the art of self-encouragement. Be aware of the good selfless deeds and thoughts you have and give these more importance. If we strengthen our good qualities then this will take care of most of our weaknesses. The positive approach is by far the best way to help our self-improvement.
photo by Pavitrata