We talk about mindset a lot in health and fitness circles. In most of these conversations the focus is primarily on contentment, mindfulness, presence in the moment and overall appreciation of the positives. (In fact, Tibloom has plenty of articles on the subject). Promoting positive thinking is great and useful but after a while it might feel like an overwhelming task.
Today it seems like any kind of self-criticism is considered a bad thing. Don’t criticize your achievements, don’t criticize your body, don’t be critical at all. Instead you should always notice the positives and find a way to be happy as you are. Otherwise you’re telling yourself that you will only be happy when you have the right job/house/car/body and that’s the same as saying you won’t be happy until then.
You’ve heard this before, right? But is well-intentioned self criticism really a bad thing; is it always self destructive?
Don’t get me wrong, it is great if you are happy with your progress and proud of where you are BUT at the same time wouldn’t it be useful to be more objective and self aware? You should know what you could be done better and look to learn and grow from any mistakes or missteps. No one can claim only successes – it is important to be aware of faults too.
Without recognizing your faults you’ll never improve!
Messages like “you should find complete happiness where you are” and “saying you’ll be happy when…” only means you “won’t be happy until…” oftentimes just don’t work and can hamper progress.
I personally don’t believe that most of us can be happy unless we are actively working towards something and have goals to achieve. You need to know not only where you are but also where you want to be and the things you need to do to go from A to B.
Being too hard on yourself can indeed be an issue. But being able to healthily analyze your faults in a positive way – exploring what you need to fix or change and how – is actually a useful thing. Teaching people to stay away from the negatives and seek complete happiness in the present might not be the right solution. Such an inflexible approach might only lead to a constant battle to maintain a positive self view.
Instead we should preserve self esteem but practice positive self criticism. Don’t forget the positives when looking at the negatives but remember those negatives are the path to growth.