Self-criticism is a capacity that allows us to be aware of and value our behavior so that we can make changes to improve it.
For criticism to benefit us, we must try to make it positive and constructive, that is, to focus on describing the situation and evaluating possible solutions. The point of self-criticism is to improve, not to blame and punish yourself for what happened.
In this article we will talk about self-criticism and how to do it. from tips and guidelines that will help you apply it to your life and your personal development.
What do we mean by self-criticism?
self-criticism is the ability to analyze and evaluate our behaviors, both behaviors, cognitions and emotions, proposing improvements. Self-criticism can be understood as a positive skill, because if we do it correctly, it can be useful to change the way we act and thus improve ourselves. In this way, it is necessary that, in the same way that we try to make constructive criticism of the subjects around us, we also make such criticism of ourselves.
So that reviews are positive and help us grow and evolve we have to try to make them objectivethat is to say that there is a real reason for doing them, that there is an objective explanation which justifies the criticism. Also, we will try that these are constructive, consist in proposing possible solutions so that the improvement takes place. It’s not enough to say or point out what we don’t like, we have to think if there is room for improvement and how we could fix it.
How to self-criticize
Self-criticism can be understood as a useful ability that helps us grow and improve, but it can also be devastating and dysfunctional if we don’t make good use of it. If we only focus on criticizing the actions we take, pointing out all the bad things without trying to see how to fix and change, what we achieve hurts our self-esteem, our self-concept, the perception that we have of ourselves. We need to motivate and encourage each other to make changes so that we can benefit.
It is therefore essential to learn and practice how to make positive and constructive self-criticism, as we have already said, so that it is really functional and useful for our development and our progress. So let’s look at some tips that can help us self-criticize properly.
1. Be clear that the goal is to improve, not blame ourselves
The goal of self-criticism should be to find out what we did wrong and try to assess how we can change our actions so that we don’t make the same mistake. Constantly blaming ourselves for what we did without trying to solve the problem does not help us; on the contrary, it affects us and can affect our mental state.
2. Focus on specific behaviors you can change
We do self-criticism with the intention of improving, if the fact, the capacity, the characteristic criticized cannot be modified, criticizing it will not be functional or useful since we will only manage to feel worse, to harm us by focusing on something we cannot change. So we will focus on valuing and modifying behaviors rather than immutable traits and that these behaviors are as concrete as possible to seek the most appropriate solution.
3. Set realistic goals
As we have seen, the purpose of self-criticism is to be able to identify and value what we need to change and work on to achieve improvement. For this reason, it is necessary that the goals or objectives that we set for ourselves, those that we use to assess our status and whether we have achieved what we wanted, are realistic. It is, you have to be able to reach them, otherwise you can only sink and self-criticism will cease to be functional.
It is better to set close goals, which you can easily achieve and progress gradually, and set more complex long-term goals, but always with the possibility of achieving them if you try hard.
4. Choose a time for self-criticism
It is common, because of the way of life we lead today, that we cannot stop to think during the day. For this reason, it can be helpful to choose the right moment to do a self-assessment, dedicating some time to ourselves to reflect on our state, set ourselves possible goals, aspects we want to change and how to do it. ‘improvement. It is important that the timing allows us to be as relaxed as possible so that our thoughts are positive and that we show a good attitude towards the possible factors to be modified, thus avoiding self-destruction.
5. Be aware of self-criticism
For self-criticism to be done correctly, we need to be aware of when it happens so that we can control it and make it positive and constructive and not deviate from its intentions. One way to control self-criticism is to try to do it frequently and intentionally being aware, because in this way we manage to exercise this ability, first training ourselves consciously and with more effort to finally succeed in doing it. do it smoothly and correctly.
6. Use Behavior Descriptions
The right way to do constructive self-criticism is to accurately describe a specific behavior or habitual behavior within us, thus avoiding focusing on personality traits or appealing to our supposed essence. As we have already said, we will try to make the change in behavior as concrete as possible. If we specifically describe the failure, it is easier to identify in this description how to fix it and obtain improvements.
7. Generate possible solutions
The technique used in the field of psychology to try to solve the first problems, is presented as one of the phases of action generate all possible alternatives to try to find the most appropriate solution. Once all the alternatives have been considered, it is necessary to evaluate the possible consequences that each can entail in order to rule them out and finally retain the one that is most appropriate. In addition, if we find that the chosen option does not obtain good results, we can change and treat another one.
8. Focus on one of two areas for improvement
It is normal that there are different behaviors that we want to change and try to improve, but if we try to change and work on them all at once, it is difficult for us to achieve good results. As we have already pointed out, we must dedicate time to describe the behavior to be improved and to propose and evaluate the possible alternatives that can be useful to achieve an improvement, this process requires dedication and, therefore, if we try to cover many behaviors to correct, it is more difficult to be effective in solving each one of them.
We will focus on many behaviors at work and in this way we will not be able to concentrate and devote ourselves fully to one of them, a behavior necessary to find the right solution.
9. Take responsibility
Linked to self-blame, it is also essential that we take responsibility for events that happen to us, but distinguishing: events whose results depend on us, events that we could do nothing to change.
There are things that we are responsible for, but it wasn’t really up to us to do anything to prevent them from happening.. Thus, it is important to know when the locus of control is internal and we can fix the responsibility in ourselves and when, at the otherwise, the locus of control is external and it is not our responsibility for what happened.
We really need to take responsibility for the facts that are ours and ours to change.
10. Change the assessment perspective
It is normal to tend to value the situation as we see it, from our point of view, but sometimes taking into account the point of view of other subjects can help us find other alternatives. It helps to be flexible when assessing the facts, because in this way we can better understand and understand what happened. It is only by valuing our vision that we lose information that is very valuable and very useful in solving our behavior.
11. Be nice to yourself
A premise that we must keep in mind before performing self-criticism is that we are all wrong and therefore perfection does not exist. We must therefore consider criticism as an opportunity for learning and not as a mode of punishment. Just as we can understand that others are wrong, we must also allow ourselves to fail.since making a mistake gives us the opportunity to rectify and be more aware of the right way to act.
In addition, as we mentioned before, we must set ourselves possible and realistic goals in order to achieve them and achieve a positive self-evaluation, a better self-image.
- De Rosa, L., Valle, AD, Rutsztein, G. and Keegan, E. (2012) Perfectionism and self-criticism: clinical considerations. Argentine Journal of Psychological Clinic.
- Kopala, DC (2017) Self-criticism and addiction. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Abnormal and Clinical Psychology.
- Warren R., Smeets, E. and Neff, K. (2016) Self-criticism and self-compassion. Current psychiatry.