Whenever something goes wrong, whether it’s in relation to school, work, family, or relationships, the easiest person to blame is you. I could’ve studied harder, I could’ve paid more attention in class, I could’ve set more than one alarm, I could’ve skipped dessert, I could’ve replied to that text. While making mistakes is a part of life, things get problematic when you blame yourself to the extent that you hinder your growth as an individual. Something that I have learnt is that self-criticism is not effective unless it is constructive.
Here are some things you can tell yourself when faced with a tough situation so that you can learn from your mistakes without beating yourself up about them:
I messed up, now how can I learn from this and how can I apply this lesson in the future?
How can I improve? How can I make this better? How can I create a productive mindset?
Am I truly the one at fault? If I am, do I owe someone an apology?
Take a moment then re-evaluate the situation
Sleep on it
Criticize changeable behaviours, not attributes
Criticize external circumstances, but then try to change them
Consider how your actions affect other people rather than focusing on self-judgement
Acknowledge your mistake, but remind yourself that it doesn’t define you
Realize that you can never please everyone.
Do no place unnecessary blame or discount the importance of the event. Instead, focus on how to improve and how to avoid repeating the mistake in the future.
Trust yourself, love yourself, focus, try, learn, and grow.
Constructive Self-Criticism is beneficial because…
You have the ability to realize that you are not perfect and this will keep you grounded
You grow and improve as an individual, which doesn’t mean that you’re bad to begin with but that there is always room for improvement
It prevents you from becoming self centered
Criticism from others is easier to handle, which is extremely important when school, work, and relationships are involved
It creates a productive mindset, where you constantly search for ways to improve which in turn results in the production of quality work
It helps you empathize with other people, understand other perspectives, and keep an open-mind
You are able to recognize mistakes, learn from them, and therefore grow as a person
You are considerate of how your actions affect others and this makes you a more thoughtful person
You are more accountable for your actions, which becomes more important as you grow as a person
and encounter more people and responsibility
You are real and honest with yourself and with others
So remember, the next time you beat yourself up about a regret or a missed opportunity, place yourself in a more productive and positive light. Say “yes, I messed up, but this doesn’t make me a horrible person. This makes me a person who has strengths and weaknesses and room to improve.”
Niabi is a fourth year BA student double majoring in English and Spanish. She’s a relentless optimist, hazardously curious, and loves a good laugh (her friends would say that she has a juvenile sense of humour). When not jamming out to Reggaeton, you can find her trying to cuddle every dog she sees, or serving herself “eyes-are-too-big-for-your-stomach” helpings.