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On Self-criticism and Improvement

I recently read an article on constructive criticism, explaining several ways you could help people improve something without offending them. One of the methods described was called “Positive-Improvement-Positive”, and it begins by focusing on the strengths of that which you are about to criticize, then pointing out the elements that could be improved, followed by a reiteration of the positive elements you mentioned in the beginning and, lastly, commenting on the potential positive effects of those previously suggested changes or improvements.

Yet, as insightful as the article was on dealing with other people, I couldn’t help but wonder: We spend our lives trying not to offend others, trying to make them feel comfortable and turn their flaws into strengths, but how often do we extend ourselves the same courtesy? How often do we pardon other people’s mistakes, but not our own?

Could it be that our internalized fear of being judged turns us into our own worst enemy, where we are our own judges, and our minds are our own prisons? And if so, how do we break free from this self-imposed sentence?

It is said that the first step to forgiveness is understanding. Perhaps if we spent more time getting to know ourselves better we could accept who we truly are and become more lenient towards our own faults or imperfections. Perhaps the road to inner peace is actually a journey to self-discovery.

In our daily lives, we tend to focus on the image that we portray to the public, on external appearance, on the way others perceive our manners, our gestures, our reactions, on the way we carry and present ourselves to the outside. Seldom do we take time to face our inner demons, our fears, insecurities and self-doubts, our values and beliefs, even our feelings, eccentricities, wishes or disappointments. However, at the end of the day, it’s our own inner thoughts that we hear before going to sleep, not other people’s. And in order to be able to live with ourselves, we need to understand and accept who we really are.

Today I have seen the irony in the fact that the person I’ve spent every single moment of my life with is the person I may actually know the least: myself. However, I am determined to know myself from a new perspective. Not as an enemy, but as a friend.

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