I recently wrote a post that discussed ways of handling negative comments. Amongst that I talked about how one comment, within a host of positive comments, really dominated my thoughts. In this article I want to discuss the reasons for why that may be and how you can overcome it, as many of you reached out and said you have had similar experiences yourself.
So, why does criticism steal the stage within your mind?
Tapping into self-doubt
I think most people, in all walks of life, experience self-doubt at some point. I know I certainly do. Asking myself “Am I good enough?” or “I’m wasting my time pursuing this or that” – I often have to wrestle with these thoughts in order to keep pushing and working hard towards reaching my goals.
What these comments or feedback do is hold up a mirror inside your mind. They validate the thoughts you have had about your inability to do something, and to do it well. Of course, the positive comments should do the same, and whilst they do - they don’t quite stick as much as those that say you are not good enough.
My own experience of self doubt is that I use it as a way to protect myself. For example, I may start to put limitations on myself by saying I am not capable of something, in order to save myself from public embarrassment or criticism. It is much easier to not do something and save yourself from ridicule than it is to say “hi look at me” only to be shut down for it.
But of course, we would not achieve anything in life if we let that self doubt constantly control the way we acted. And whilst it can play devilish tricks with your mind, it is important to defeat the curse of mental barriers, and smash through them with your ability to create something great.
I have a few techniques that I use to combat self doubt (warning it is about to get obnoxious for some)
I make my bed every morning - Okay Dan, how old are you, 12? Granted most adults should be making their bed, but we all know many don’t. Why is making your bed each day important? Well it gives you discipline, and there is a positive in taking something that is a mess and making it tidy. If you can get into a routine of making your bed each day, you know you can then develop that discipline to keep working towards your goals. I have been doing it for 6 months now - and I can honestly say that I have been far more productive during that time. Try it.
- I listen to motivational videos - Yup, told you it was going to get obnoxious. For 4 months every morning when I am getting dressed, I have listened to motivational speakers telling me “Yes you can”. It does make you feel pumped and that it is up you to take the energy and use it productively. It is a positive way to start you day, far more than watching the morning news! This is an example of what I listen to:
Ask yourself "what is more important?" - When I take time to reflect I ask myself what is more important; Risking a negative response or not taking the risk at all? The answer is always the first one. I, like many of you, don’t want to reflect on my life and see that I did not try to achieve what I wanted. I would much rather look back and say “I tried and I tried and even if I did not make it - I tried”. Life is what you ask it to be, you have full control of that.
Be creative everyday - Tackle any insecurities by practising your craft. You will build confidence the more time you put into your skill. Become an expert in your field, the more you know the less room people will have to put you down. I have so much to learn in what I do, so I ensure I do something or learn something everyday so I can build up better knowledge and overall produce better content.
Accept self doubt will always be there
From the conversations I have with people, a common thing I hear is that they don’t like the anxiety self doubt can produce. They would much rather try to remove any form of self doubt, which unfortunately, is unrealistic. The best approach I have found is to accept self doubt is going to be there. The truth is, it cannot kill you - quite the opposite - it can spur you on in life. However it can stop you from being the person you believe you can and should be. Accept it will be part of your journey and can actually be used as elevation to be better and do better.
And in times when people validate your own doubts - remember it does not mean you cannot achieve what you want. It is just a minor door being closed, which you will always have the ability to re-open and walk through.
Thanks for reading.
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