Self Criticism: How to be Your Own Support Through Stressful Times
Criticism is a daily occurrence in college life. Criticism comes from others and even more from ourselves. Knowing how to use self criticism can be like taming a wild horse—all over the place and hard to control, but once tamed it helps you accomplish more.
Deborah Bright, from the University of Arizona and founder of Bright Enterprises Corp.—a consulting firm, explains on an iTunes course how to manage criticism and stress. Many see college life as one big party, which is far from reality, for most at least. Learning how to handle a full work load, internships, job, family life, and have a social life is a constant juggling act. Because critisism is a big part of college life, students need to manage how they criticize themselves and others to avoid unecessary stress.
Put your critics in perspective
The first step in managing criticism is learning how to put your problems or critics in perspective. Criticism can come towards you from all angles, be it from your professor or peers—judging your paper or outfit. With so much being thrown at you, it’s easy to see how stress can build and cause you to lose focus and lead to more mistakes.
Learn when to give criticism importance. Deborah explains how to stay concentrated and focus: she calls it the two M, simultaneous focus—the micro and macro focus.
Use a macro and micro approach like a camera would zoom in and out of a situation. Use both M’s equally until it’s more advantageous to use one over the other.
For example, when you are being criticized on a school project, rather than to be insulted right away, zoom out and use macro to learn from your mistake, and avoid similar ones in the future. Then zoom back into micro view and learn why you received the criticism.
Answer the following questions:
- Do you live your life under assumption that people are imperfect?
- Do you expect others to mess up?
You probably said yes to both, but what about on you? Are you allowed to be imperfect or mess up? The reason many students subconsciously believe they aren’t allowed to mess up is because they think they can control the outcomes around them. While this is true to a certain extent, many times it isn’t the case and leads students to over stress and self criticize. Your words pack a punch, so control the pressure and stress you put on yourself. A trick to keep your self-criticism under control is to stop and ask yourself this revealing question:
Deborah explains learning how to focus your self-criticism using three simple phases:
- Listen to yourself: Have an antenna and listen to your inner talk without being judgmental as if it were two others talking
- Validate your collected criticism: Validate the accuracy– who’s saying it, how old is it, and is it accurate.
- Assessing action: What is the best way to move forward and avoid the negative outcome in the future?
Example using the three phases
My good friend Chris recently told me about an interview he had earlier last month. He did all the preparation work just like they tell you. He showed up 15 minutes early, had a nice suit, brought his resume, and felt completely prepared. Unfortunately, nerves got the best of him and as soon as he was called into the interview, he realized he had completely forgotten the interviewer’s name, and the information he’d researched about the firm.
Instantly, Chris became upset began to call himself names in his head. He then used step one and realized it was normal to feel this way. Then he used step two to realize that these self-criticisms in his head weren’t true.
Finally, he used step three and took action. He asked politely if he could step out of the room, so he did, and had a moment to clear his mind. Chris begins to recall the information he had learned, then walked back to the interview, confident, with his head up and ready to finish the interview. He leaves the interview happy he recover, but then decides to make a plan to avoid this situation in the future. He notes that from now on he will type the facts he learned during his research with the interviewers name, print the sheet, and then take it into the interview with him. Now, if he ever gets nervous and forgets, he can refer to the sheet for help.
Two rules for self criticism:
- When you are tired, don’t listen to yourself
- Let everything run off your back
Never let yourself wallow in your emotions. You know yourself best. Set the strategy and take the right actions. You will find it difficult to move forward at times but push through. Be your own best friend. Working with yourself will help you. Make sure you walk away with a plan of action and you will feel yourself come out of the situation feeling branded and experienced.