How to shift from self-criticism to self-analysis

13943406256_f7af373762_zI do it from time to time. You probably do it from time to time. We all do it from time to time.

Indulge in self-criticism.

It’s not serving you nor I very well.

Self-criticism tends to be destructive.

A more constructive option is to conduct self-analysis.

What is the difference?

Self-criticism

Self-criticism tends to happen under the veil of negative emotions like despondency, hatred or disgust.

When you’re criticizing, you don’t look for the things that are right and working in yourself, you look only at the negative aspects – this in turn makes you feel even worse.

Problem-solving or working on the issues is not part of this process.

Your self-image is one-sided and rather dark – containing only the bad, wrong, difficult parts of your character.

Your self-worth is diminished and your self-esteem is destroyed.

You speak to yourself very harshly, perhaps swearing and name-calling.

The negative emotions you experience become even stronger.

You think of yourself with hatred and contempt.

Self-analysis

Self-analysis on the other hand is about accepting and understanding yourself.

Your emotions tend to be neutral when you self-analyze.

You acknowledge the things that you are doing well and that are working in your life.

You notice the things that not right and not working. Here’s the key – you then work out some steps you can take to fix/improve those items.

Your self-image is balanced and realistic.

You value yourself and understand your self-worth.

Your self-esteem is stable and strong.

You speak to yourself in an encouraging way.

The purpose of self-analysis is to help you be the very best that you can be.

You think of yourself with love and compassion.

Note that self-analysis is not self-inflation.

When you indulge in self-inflation (to hide a dreadful self-image) you only notice the best of yourself and you see those characteristics as even better that they are in reality. You also deny any failings. Your self-image glitters. Your self-worth is inflated. You think of yourself with arrogance and superiority.

You put these three things on a scale.

Self-criticism is on one end, self-inflation is on the other end, and self-analysis balances neatly in the middle.

Where on the scale do you lie?

What can you do to move more towards the middle?

Because self-criticism and self-inflation are activities that we have taught ourselves, this implies that we can also teach ourselves the more constructive option of self-analysis.

3 Steps to Self-Analysis

1. Observe:

  • Observe your way of being in the world. When that self-talk is happening in your head, what kind of language are you using? Are you calling yourself names? Do you swear at yourself?
  • Notice the emotions you are experiencing at the time. Are you observing yourself with contempt or compassion?
  • How are you holding your body when you engage in self-talk? If it’s all negative you’ll find your body is slumped over. If the self-talk is constructive you find your body is straight, shoulders back.

2. Document:

  • Write down what you have observed so that you can track your progress over time. Take some deep breaths and get yourself into a calm and neutral space. Now write about what you are doing that is working? What characteristics you have that serve you well. Put some effort into this part.
  •  Now look at what is not working about your way of being in the world. NOTE – only focus on two items, not more. If you list 100 things here, you’re slipping back into self-criticism. Now write down what you can do to improve these two things. Do you need to get help from someone to assist you in improving these aspects?
  • Support yourself if necessary by getting help from a coach or mentor. Go to therapy to sort out past issues. Find out where you can learn a new skill if that’s what’s needed. Remember- there is always a way to improve – find it. Write down some action steps you can take to improve.
  •  Finish off by jotting down what you love best about yourself and the life you have created.

3. Implement:

No action, no change! If you don’t take any action, nothing will change. Implement your action plan.

Repeat these steps on a regular basis.

Soon you will find yourself moving towards balanced, constructive self-analysis.

This will help you to learn, grow and develop into the very best that you can be.

“Self-care is never a selfish act
—it is simply good stewardship
of the only gift I have,
the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”
Parker Palmer

 Photo from
https://www.flickr.com/photos/megan-smith/

 

About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.

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