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 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 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


Posted in awareness, Balance, Feelings, Life Mastery, Self esteem | Comments Off

Long’s Suggestions for Long-Lasting Relationships

Long-lasting relationships are the stuff of fairy-tales. Married-ever after! This is how the fairy-tale ends and no thought is given to the years that follow and to HOW you actually manage this.

I did a speech at Toastmasters the other day giving some suggestions for long-lasting relationships. Some background about the speech: I entered the speech in a club humorous contest. Because my surname is Long and we’ve been married a long time I decided to bring the humour in by using the word LONG is as many ways as possible. Despite the humour, the underlying message is serious.



Posted in Communication, Lessons, Life Mastery, Relationships | 7 Comments

Warning: Assassination Ruins Relationships

Relationships Die One Sentence at a Time.

216594524_44b8d124f2_z (2)When you are unhappy about something your partner does the words that come out of your mouth are crucial.

Look at the difference between these two sentences:

  1. “I don’t like it when you leave your dirty clothes all over the bedroom.”
  2. “You are such a slob. You might like living in a pig-sty but I don’t.”

Complaining Vs Character-Assassination.

The first sentence is a complaint.

The second sentence is a character-assassination.

The first sentence deals with the problem.

The second sentence doesn’t deal with the problem at all – in fact the person you are addressing may have no idea what you’re getting at – and they’re certainly not going to make an effort to change. Would you?

If you are assassinating your partner’s character on a regular basis, you can be sure of two things:

Deal Decently with Issues

Before you lash out next time, use the guidelines below to tackle the issue:

  • Identify one issue to talk about. Only one. Let me repeat that: tackle only one issue at a time.
  • Focus on the behaviour not your partner’s character.
  • Plan how you will say it. Begin the sentence with I and not You. “I don’t like the way you spill toothpaste all over the basin.” or “I feel so upset when you expect me to clean up the mess after you’ve cooked”  OR “I feel exhausted after all these visitors; I’d appreciate some help cleaning up and then we can both relax together.”
  • Practice your sentence mentally a few times.
  • When you are calm, deliver your sentence to your partner. Now BE QUIET. Allow your partner to digest and respond.

Getting into the habit of dealing with problems this way allows for better communication and stronger relationships.

Practice Every Day

Start with small issues and practice every day. This way when you need to deal with something big it will come more naturally.

Lastly, don’t forget to verbally appreciate when changes happen.

Criticism, like rain,
should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth
without destroying his roots.

 Frank A. Clark

 Photo by Martin Stabenfeldt


Posted in Life Mastery | 6 Comments

13 Sailing Lessons for Ladies

ourYachtSailing the Adriatic Sea was an awesome adventure.

In honour of Woman’s Day I thought I’d share some lessons  learnt – from a woman’s perspective.

Sailing Lessons for Ladies

1. Take an experienced sailor with you. Look, if you go during the European summer its mostly blue skies and sun and light winds (or none) BUT on the day of the storm it’s really useful to have someone take the lead and shout instructions. By the way – you can hire a sailor but if I were you I’d ask for pictures and interview him first!

2. Take a fan rather than fake a tan. (sorry!) You’re going to go brown quickly – the sun just doesn’t seem as fierce as our African sun. It’s also going to be hot and humid – fine when you’re on the yacht but when in enclosed spaces the fan is great – and no-one will know you so it doesn’t matter if they see you fanning yourself like an old lady!

3. Take less stuff. We hired a catamaran.  It’s a little bit like a caravan on water. The bunks are tiny. The cupboards are smaller. The shower is in the same square meter as the toilet. Before we left I packed my suitcase – then took some stuff out. I should have taken out more. There is very little space to put stuff and you don’t really need much.

4. Put the toilet paper away when you shower. See point 3. No matter how careful you are, the hand-help shower IS going to soak the toilet paper. On that point – use as little toilet paper as possible – blocked pipes on a yacht are no fun.

5. Choose your friends carefully. See point 3 again.  You’re going to be spending a lot of time in a confined space with the same people for an extended period of time. Make sure you all get on well and work as a team.

6. Hire a bigger yacht than you need if you can afford it. See point 3 again! We put all our suitcases, snorkeling equipment, spare drinks, fishing stuff and anything else that would not fit in our rooms/ kitchen in the spare berth. Very useful!

7. Don’t hold rigidly onto your plans. Be flexible. Be very flexible. We spent much time before we left plotting our route and deciding which were the best islands to visit. None of it worked out. We made new plans every day and every day was completely different to what we had planned.  That’s OK. We still had loads of fun and incredible experiences.

8. Fly your flag. We proudly  flew a South African flag on our yacht. In one port someone wandered over to chat to us – they had recognized our flag. Next minute our yacht was invaded by about 20 people (from different countries) – they bought drinks and food, we shared our drinks and food –  and  good party ensued. Such fun!

9. Shop at the markets. The old cities are beautiful and full of tourist shops. You will find that the market across the street carries the same tourist stuff at much cheaper rates.

10. Anchor in quiet ports and catch the water taxi to the parties on neighboring islands. That’s if you want your beauty sleep! In the busy ports the music blares out from various venues for most of the night. Great if you want to party, not if you want to sleep.

11. Go on a cooking course.  Our cooking teacher took us to the local fish and veggie market and showed us what was what – then she taught us to cook some local dishes. Apart from being useful, it was a loads of fun.

12. Beware of the schnapps. Most restaurants offer patrons a free glass of schnapps after the meal. There’s a reason it’s free!

13. There will always be greater and lesser yachts than yours. One local we were chatting to had a beautiful yacht – much bigger and better than ours. As we were chatting a huge, sleek, sophistical yacht sailed into the harbour. He looked in envy and said, “No matter how much you spend on your yacht, there’s always someone richer with a bigger yacht”. Just like life!

I firmly believe that new experiences contribute to a full and rich life. I am so glad we decided to try a sailing holiday – it turned out to be a huge adventure.

Always say YES to new experiences!

How about sharing the lessons you have learnt from some of your new experiences?

“Twenty years from now,
you will be more disappointed
by the things you didn’t do
than those you did.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from safe harbor.
Catch the wind in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain

Posted in Choices, Lessons | 3 Comments

Something’s Gotta Give

nickKeatThe stories you tell yourself about yourself have the ultimate impact on the way your life unfolds.

The movie Something’s Gotta Give illustrates this so beautifully.

Harry (Jack Nicholson) is a perennial bachelor who only dates women under thirty. Erica (Diane Keaton) is a successful, divorced playwright – and way over Harry’s thirty year old limit. Harry and his latest fling, who happens to be Erica’s daughter, go off to Erica’s beach house for a romantic weekend. At the beach house Harry experiences severe chest pains and Erica reluctantly agrees to nurse him back to health.

Naturally (after all this is a rom-com), Harry and Erica fall in love.

Once Harry recovers he returns to his previous bachelor life. Only now he keeps thinking of Erica. They start chatting over the Internet.

This is where you see the huge power of Harry’s story which is that he is a bachelor who has brief relationships with young, gorgeous women.

Almost without thinking, Harry types the words “I miss you” onto his screen. He about to hit send, when he hesitates.

You get a sense of his inner turmoilI don’t do this. This is not me. I don’t DO relationships. Commitment is not my game.

The story wins….

Slowly he backspaces until the message is deleted. The relationship fades away.

Harry’s story prevented him from living authentically, from following his true feelings and from experiencing love and contentment in a relationship that he craved.

What about you?

When you say/ think things like “I’m the kind of person who …..” Or ” That’s not me – I’m more like …. ” then ask yourself the following:

Spend time reflecting on how your story impacts your life.

So what happened to Harry and Erica?

You’ve probably seen the movie – it’s almost a classic! So you know the answer.

If not …. Settle on the couch with some popcorn and a blanket …. And enjoy.

Change your thoughts
and you change your world.

Norman Vincent Peale

Posted in Life Mastery | Comments Off

Perspectives from Prison


I’ve always worried about whether I should tell my story to the prisoners that I work with, or not. The team leader is adamant that I must. And so I do.

Last week I realized the value of sharing this story.

I guess I’ve been worried that the prisoners may think I’m telling my story to make them feel guilty or bad. This is not my intention.

To put this in context: I give a workshop on journaling, which is the first workshop that is part of a greater 20-week rehabilitation program, called Heartwork.

There are many uses for journaling.

Amongst them is using the journal to process a traumatic event.

I share the story of my armed robbery to illustrate how I used the trauma journal to heal and move on.

I told this story at Boksburg prison last Wednesday.

The prisoners participated, engaged with the content, and asked so many questions, we eventually had to stop and tell them they could speak to me individually during the tea break.

One man came up to me. He towered above me as he gently shook my hand.

“Miss Kirsty”, he said. “I am so sorry about what happened to you. We do this to other people, but we don’t know what it’s like on the other side. I apologize on behalf of the man who did this to you.”

I have to admit to feeling a little teary-eyed in that moment.

I realized then that the value add here was that this man was able to see things from another perspective. As soon as we are able to do that, we are able to see a bigger picture, to experience empathy, and to have better  insight and understanding of people, situations and life itself.

I have coached many people who have had ‘aha’ moments when looking a situations from another perspective. The ability to do this indicates a certain level of emotional intelligence. The deep understanding one gains from being able to see things from another perspective allows for better decision making and ultimately life mastery.

If there are situations in your life where you are struggling, look at it from a different perspective. What do you think is going on for the other person? What are their views and struggles? What can you learn from looking through their eyes? What action can you take now that adds value to everyone involved?

I’m sitting in my car writing this post. I’m parked outside Groenpunt prison in Vereeniging. It’s a sunny zero degrees outside. In a little while I’ll be talking to these prisoners about journaling. I’ll tell my story again. I wonder what the reaction will be like today….

The only thing you sometimes
have control over
is perspective.
You don’t have control over your situation.
But you have a choice about how you view it.

Chris Pine

Photo from

Posted in Life Mastery | 8 Comments

How long are you going to tolerate this?

I’d had enough.

This was two years ago.  I could no longer put up with a messy bathroom. So I got stuck in on Saturday  emptied the cupboards, threw away old medicine and cosmetics, sorted and cleaned.

Then I visited my favourite shop and bought a whole lot of pretty coloured plastic baskets in varying sizes.

The next morning I completed the task and the whole bathroom was more functional, and certainly more tidy.

Now we could actually find the things we were looking for!

As the weeks went by, I realized there was still one thing that was not working in my bathroom.

I has a basket for my face cleaner, creams and serums. Because some of the bottles were tall and thin, every time I took the basket out of the cupboard (which was twice a day), the bottles would topple over. I’d patiently put them upright, and then get on with the business of looking after my face. (as one does!)

Twice a day, for about a year, I would feel irritated every time I did my face (not such a good thing!).  How many times I had thought, “This is so irritating“, I have no idea.

Into the second year I started thinking “This is so irritating. I must sort it out“.

I hate to admit this, but it carried on far at least another year!

What I was doing, was tolerating a little thing that could easily be fixed. I was also wasting time and energy thinking about it on a very regular basis. On top of this I was experiencing negative energy because of it.

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?

Yet, it is so easy to do.

When I start coaching a new client  one of the tasks that I set for them  is “List 5 things that you are tolerating“. Believe me, I am not the only one out there who is tolerating something that could easily be fixed.

Of course – there is a wide variety of things we do tolerate – from bad relationships, health problems, physical environment, being stuck and more. The more we are putting up with – the more it affects our emotional health.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to start shifting this is to fix the easy things that we are tolerating. Quite simple really – you just have to be aware and make a decision to change things.

Last Wednesday my irritation rallied as I, once again, took my basket out of the cupboard and all the bottles crashed as I lifted it to the bathroom counter. I walked straight out the room, went a fetched a pretty box that was lying around doing nothing. It fitted beautifully into my basket. Problem sorted. So easy.

What has surprised me is how much relief I now feel every time I do my face.

I’m trying very hard not to get irritated with myself for taking so long to sort it out!

Here’s a mid-year challenge for you:

  • List ten things that you are tolerating.
  • Choose 3 that are easy to fix.
  • Get those 3 things sorted this week.
  • Notice what shifts once you have sorted these things out.

I’m going to do the same.

Let me know how it goes.


You get what you tolerate.

John G Agno






Posted in awareness, Choices, Life Mastery | 1 Comment

The Big “F” Word

6321349925_8026e8f313_zHave you ever been tempted to blame your past for your current status?

Its such an easy trap to fall into. Yet, it dis-empowers.

One way to get around this is to look to others who have managed to overcome disastrous childhoods and to learn how they did it.

Image from Flickr

This story by Meryl  is more inspiring than most.

I am really excited to introduce you to a most inspiring person. She has given me permission to share her story. Meryl gave a speech at Toastmasters about her life’s journey entitled “The Big F Word”

Despite her childhood she is plain awesome.

Thanks you so much to Meryl for giving me permission to share her story – and for the wisdom offered in the three steps to overcome a lousy childhood.

We are honored, we are inspired and we are privileged to hear your story.

 I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind,

I would still be in prison.

Nelson Mandela



Posted in awareness, Choices, forgiveness, Happiness, Life Mastery | 1 Comment

A SPANNER for Burnout

Judy is a fellow coach as well as a friend of mine. She has done a lot of work in the field of burnout and so I asked her to share some thoughts with us on the subject.

Judy, tell us about your work with burnout.

 Many of my clients struggle with anxiety, healthy boundaries and work-life balance.  I specialise in working with ‘adult children’ – people who had childhoods that were unpredictable or inconsistent in some way or for some time (pretty much all of us).  

A very particular set of characteristics is present in most adult children: we (I, too, am an adult child) tend to be very reactive rather than proactive, we have a hard time having fun, we feel responsible for everyone and everything (what I call being ‘others-centred’), we are super-responsible in some areas (like looking after others) and super-irresponsible in others (like looking after ourselves)… 

 Adult children also struggle to say no and find it very hard to ask for help.  This combination of characteristics and habits makes adult children particularly prone to burnout.  Because we feel we have to put everyone else’s needs, real or imagined, first (that ‘others-centeredness’) and because we do not ask for help, and also because we struggle with saying no (we tend to say yes when we mean no, or no when we mean yes) it is a relatively short journey to overwhelm, exhaustion and burnout.

A while back I began to notice that many of my clients were in various stages of burnout – something I have experienced myself a couple of times – and started to look into burnout and how to manage it in more detail.  I developed a set of materials and tools that help my clients to understand why they are burned out (what are the thoughts, behaviours and habits that need to be changed) and I give them tools to manage and address their burnout.  I take a holistic, systemic approach and we look at the five major life realms I work with my clients; physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and relational.

I work with individuals and teams and I offer in-house Burnout Recovery workshops and programmes to organisations and companies.

How do you define overwhelm and burnout?

 For me overwhelm is a feeling of having too much to do; too many people to please, too many tasks to complete, just too much.

Burnout, on the other hand, is a feeling of not having enough; of being depleted and not able to manage the simplest tasks, let alone all of them.  

What is the difference between overwhelm and burnout?

When we are overwhelmed we tend to be fueled by a kind of nervous energy that helps us to get through everything.  When we are burned out, we have no fuel or energy to do anything.  We are totally depleted and unable to function normally or happily.

What steps should a person take if they suspect they have burnout?

The most important things you can do are to rest, to ask for (and accept) help, and to identify what (and who) you can say no to.  I always say to my clients, “what can you put down in order to pick yourself up?”.  You have to make space to rest and recharge and the only way to do that is to stop trying to do everything – particularly things that you do not want to do or that make you unhappy or stressed – and to stop trying to do it all yourself.  Say no and ask for help!

What best practices should a person adopt in their lives that will help prevent burnout?

I have a seven point plan to help to ‘regain and maintain your life force after burnout’.


The seven steps are all interrelated so it isn’t like you have to do seven separate things every day – having a cup of tea in the garden every morning before you start your day will address the requirement of PEACE as well as time for yourSELF, as well as NOURISHING your need for quiet time and saying NO to chaos and rushing in the morning…..

Essentially if you do those seven steps of the SPANNER every day you will start to feel more human again very soon.

However I do also recommend working with a coach who can help you to identify the unhelpful thought and behaviour patterns that have led you to burnout, and to help you to develop string and healthy boundaries and self-care strategies so that you do not become a regular burnout sufferer.

Thanks Judy!

JudyKlipanJudy Klipin is a Master Life Coach based in Johannesburg and working internationally.  She is the author of Life Lessons for the Adult Child (Penguin 2010) and is working on her second book (on burnout).  She works with private individuals as well as corporate clients and runs regular workshops in the Johannesburg area.  You can contact her at or read more on her website:


Posted in Balance, Burnout, Life Mastery, Managing Stress | Comments Off

Warning: 10 signs that your overwhelm is actually burnout.

6153578409_0f7b92fbe5_mHave you ever felt overwhelmed by your life? You don’t feel like you are coping; You’re not enjoying your life and you’re stressed about all the things you still have to do.

This is a common phenomenon and can be treated by making different choices.

Photo by Giuseppe Savo

BUT left untreated  overwhelm can  lead to burnout.

Burnout is serious.

How do you know if you’re shifting from overwhelm to burnout?

  • You used to care about being successful at work, now you have ZERO MOTIVATION.
  • You used to have a bad day once or twice a week, now EVERY day is a LOUSY day.
  • You used to have enough energy to get through the day, now you feel EXHAUSTED all the time. You even wake up feeling exhausted.
  • You used to enjoy some parts of your job, now you experience most of your tasks as work as DULL,  overwhelming and mind-numbing.
  • You used to feel good about your contribution, now you feel that NOTHING you do makes any difference.
  • You used to feel valued, now you feel totally UNAPPRECIATED.
  • You used to look forward to weekends and spending time at home, now even that holds NO PLEASURE for you.
  • You used to be relatively healthy, now you seem to pick up EVERY BUG going around.
  • You used to feel the pressure of too much stress, now you FEEL NOTHING at all. It’s like you are empty – devoid of all feeling.
  • You used to feel physically exhausted, now you are EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED.

If any of these statements resonate, it’s time to take a closer look and make some changes.

First: Get a sense of your emotional state.

Awareness is always the first step to change. Use the list above to asses your emotional state. If two or more items on the list feel true for you and especially if you feel empty most of the time, then know this:

You must take the next two steps, or else the universe will do it for you.

Second: Get Support

Do nothing else today besides reaching out for support. There is so much help available so make a decision  and reach out to somebody. Once you have taken this step, you are putting yourself on the path to recovery.

Here are some options: Speak to your Human Resources department, your manager,  your priest/ pastor, a psychologist, a counselor, a  life coach, your family doctor OR  call Life Line or FAMSA.

I don’t really care what you do, as long as you speak to someone.

Third: Build your stamina

Once you have started on your healing journey and when you are feeling a bit stronger, start thinking about how you can build your physical and emotional stamina. You can discuss this with your support practitioner as well. Take care of your physical  heath by eating healthily and getting plenty of rest. Take care of our emotional health by introducing time for daily reflection – try meditation, reading, writing, or doing something creative like painting. Building your stamina takes time and patience – but it is this that will sustain you in the long run. Make a commitment to yourself that this is a top priority in your life.

Burnout is not the end of your life.

It is a new beginning.

Burnout is the beginning of a life of balance and fun, a life where you value and care for yourself, a life where you feel emotions again.

Burnout is an opportunity to shift from enduring life to embracing life. Start today.

No one needs a smile

as much as a person who fails to give one.






Posted in Burnout, Life Mastery, Managing Stress | 1 Comment