Feedback helps you grow, as I wrote here. Criticizing only gets you stuck on what’s wrong.
The more we criticize others, the more prone we are to judge ourselves. And self-judgment often becomes an addiction.
Being judgmental is like the chicken or the egg dilemma. We don’t know which came first, self-judgment or judging others, but they both exist now.
Being addictive to criticism leads to a vicious cycle that gets us stuck. Here’s why:
It puts everyone on the defensive: When you criticize someone, you get hurt too. Negative behaviors feed everyone’s brain to be alert to potential attacks.
It focuses on what’s wrong: We are not our mistakes. We can learn and improve from them. When we criticize others, we are not helping but embarrassing them. A judgmental mindset damages our ability to appreciate things too.
It implies blame: When something goes wrong, criticizing is an easy way out. We use someone’s flaw to blame him/her for events that are out of everyone’s control. Instead of accepting that life is unexpected.
It’s unidimensional: When we judge people, we focus on one behavior or flaw. But people are more than just one label. When we do so, we narrow our perspective. When we label people is because we label ourselves too.
It’s a projection of our frustrations: what we criticize in others reminds us what we don’t like in ourselves. Not only we are blaming others for our own flaws. But criticizing them is a way to hide what we don’t want to see about ourselves.
Criticizing others is a waste of energy and focus.
The time spent on it derails you from achieving your personal goals.
Instead of looking at other’s flaws, focus on improving yours.
Today’s Stretch: Silence the Inner Critic to Boost Your Confidence
1. Turn self-improvement into a daily discipline:
“Be so busy improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.” — Chetan Bhagat
The road towards self-development has no room for shortcuts. It’s a lifetime journey that requires daily practice. It’s a bumpy road too. Like most difficult roads, it leads to beautiful destinations.
Practice builds proficiency. It also helps you focus on building your foundation rather than destroying someone else’s.
2. Shut up you ‘inner critic’:
“All cruelty springs from weakness.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Silencing our inner voice is not easy. Rumination, the habit of repeatedly chewing sad experiences or conversations, is like getting stuck in the sand.
Our inner critic defaults to the past. We must delete those memories to move on to the “critic-free zone”.
The inner critic acts on inertia. The most comfortable road will take you nowhere. Don’t listen to the voice of laziness.
3. Stop guessing other people’s intention:
“Before you criticize others, remember, they may not have had the same opportunities in life as you have had.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
We judge what we don’t know. If we were to use our experience, we would stay in silence most of the time. When we rush into conclusions, we make mistakes.
Train your brain to ask more questions. Especially when someone’s behavior feels awkward or uneasy to digest.
Tension is always a good sign that something good is about to happen.
4. Turn off your fight or flight response mode:
“It is not necessary to react to everything you notice.” — Unknown
When we play on defense, we are at war with reality. Rather than listening to what’s going on, we are ready to defend ourselves from a threat that has yet to happen.
Adapt instead. Turn off your fight or flight mode. Everyone is different and they are not here to hurt you.
Give people a chance before you label them as potential enemies.
5. Purposefully avoid gossiping:
“Gossip dies when it enters the ear of the wise.” — Anonymous
It’s easy and fun to mock others. Being mindful to avoid falling into the trap of gossip.
Pay more attention. Are you acting on a judgmental or on an open mode? Becoming more mindful about it will help you call out that behavior. Especially when you are being part of it.
Remember: life is about choosing sides. Do you wish to be the ear of the gossiper or of the wise?
6. Don’t use past behaviors to predict future ones:
“No matter how hard past is, you can always begin again.” — Jack Kornfield
That someone hurt you yesterday, doesn’t mean it will hurt you again. If someone made a mistake, that person can learn and improve.
Don’t get stuck in people’s past behaviors. Everyone has a first chance to make a second impression. Give them that chance.
The same applies to you. Your past mistakes can limit you. Or become a springboard to improve. Criticism gets everyone stuck in the past. But life is about being in the present.
Appreciate what happens now, get rid of your memories.
7. Reclaim your value:
“Criticism is the art of appraising others at one’s own value.” — George Jean Nathan
We are how we judge others.
Being kind and compassionate with ourselves is only the beginning. The way we appreciate ourselves will reflect in the way we value others.
Self-confidence is critical to developing determination, willpower, and optimism. All core traits of successful people.
When you are judgmental, you are playing in defense. As the Dalai Lama says: “If you have a self-centered attitude, then you’ll have more fear, hesitance, distrust.”
Instead, promote acceptance and appreciation. Be a source of positivity rather than one of criticism.
Though our brains are more susceptible to negative thoughts, positive behaviors can be contagious too.
Become favorable wind for others to reach their true potential.
Critics come across as strong. That’s why people listen to them.
Use your self-confidence to become a stronger voice. If you are in control, you will make others calm and relaxed. When people lower their defense mechanisms, they listen more.
Turn your self-confidence into a source of inspiration. A mind that doesn’t judge drives confidence on others.
Silence your inner critic.
When you stop criticizing you become more powerful: you can influence others to follow the same path.
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