What are recognizable signs that you’re too self-critical? And one thing you can do to defeat it.


What does it mean to be self-critical and how does it affect your life and job? 

Being self-critical is how an individual evaluates her/his performance, often in a disapproving way. Self-criticism, in the right amount, can protect you and help you learn from your experiences.
One must practice self-compassion to ensure that they stay in balance. If unchecked, this way of thinking can erode well-being and overall quality of life.
Being overly self-critical means that you have a louder “inner critic” that continuously pulls your attention to zoom in on your mistakes and magnify shortcomings. Your inner critic gives you no credit for your good efforts or progress which erodes the confidence and mental clarity that you need to be successful at work.
 
That continuous dialogue with your inner critic is also a massive distraction.  You miss out on what is going on around you and you cannot see opportunities around you.  This could mean that you appear distracted, unfocused, short-tempered, anxious at work.
And at home, you may appear to be just as distracted and short-tempered when talking with loved ones.

What are some ways we see it manifest in the workplace?

Everyone makes mistakes. Overly self-critical people keep beating themselves up, often long after it’s helpful or even necessary.
 
At work, this can show up in several ways. The most common is losing confidence in yourself because your inner critic convinces you that you are defective.
 
Even if trusted managers tell you you are doing a great job and you win awards, you reject their assessments completely. Lacking confidence means that you unconsciously change how you communicate with others appearing scattered, preoccupied, or aloof.
Coworkers often read this as distraction or disinterest.
 
If your coworkers are friends, this behavior can hurt their feelings and even end friendships. For other colleagues, especially direct reports, this behavior erodes their confidence in your performance and work products.

Your leadership may interpret your lost confidence as restlessness and disinterest. 

Additionally, you aren’t expressing your opinions because you’re overthinking what the listener wants to hear. Others often read as a lack of authenticity because you don’t seem mentally present or sincere. Some may isolate you from key projects because they think you are looking for another opportunity.
It can also show up as having impossible standards for yourself and others.
You can develop an attitude that no achievement is big enough and no mistake is tolerated.  As an individual contributor, this will shrink your tolerance for mistakes with others, make you rigid in your thinking and actions which limits team engagement and productivity. 
 
As a leader, impossible standards for your direct reports will increase your workload because it creates a toxic workplace – high turnover, lower productivity, lower levels of creativity/innovation.

 

What are recognizable signs that you’re too self-critical?

– You blame yourself for every negative thing that happens (often ignoring logic and outside factors beyond your control)
– You feel that you must constantly prove you are good enough to your colleagues and leaders which often leads to overwhelm, overwork, burnout, and/or leaving the organization
– You feel you don’t measure up to your peers or just about anyone you compare yourself with
– You’re constantly apologizing for situations outside of your control which undermines your credibility
– You’re so risk-averse don’t take action because you can’t figure out the “safest” action 
– You miss deadlines or opportunities because you get trapped in “analysis paralysis” trying to figure out the right direction
– You’re holding back your opinions and ideas for fear of looking bad or saying the wrong thing again
– People tell you to relax, chill out or calm down regularly
– People tell you “Don’t be so hard on yourself”
– People say “Wow, congratulations” and you diminish your accomplishment and change the subject
– People say “Oh well thanks for trying” and you hear “Oh well thanks for failing”
You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.
-Louise L. Hay

Here’s one thing you can do to defeat self-criticism.

According to a Psychology Today article: 
Try using self-correction rather than self-criticism.
Use the following analogy:
“Let’s say you were learning tennis and you hit the ball into the net. Would you want the coach to have you hit your head with the racket to add to your self-criticism? Or would you want your coach to show you how to hit the ball correctly? Self-criticism keeps you stuck — it defeats you. It doesn’t teach you anything. Self-correction is how you grow.

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