Why do we become self-critical

Self-criticism: The art of criticizing yourself constructively

We learn most from our mistakes. However, this learning process is also one of the more painful experiences. And sometimes it can even do the exact opposite. Then, for example, when we judge ourselves too harshly and self-criticism mutates into self-tearing and self-sabotage: never satisfied, never right, never good enough - this attitude leads to an inner competition with oneself, in which there is only one but eternal one Loser gives: ourselves. Effect: Many people feel imperfect, inadequate and inferior for a lifetime, feel overwhelmed, resign themselves or even become depressed. But it doesn't have to come to that: Constructive self-criticism is an art - but also a learnable one ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Are you too critical of yourself?

Our harshest critic - we are mostly ourselves. No one else knows us so well. We cannot fool anyone else so little. We know what happened, why - and why it went wrong. Not infrequently, this helps us to ground ourselves and not take off. The Austrian film actor and theater director Peter Weck once put it this way:

Self-criticism is the art of staying on the carpet even though the parquet is so shiny.

For the Swiss social critic and author Hans Adolf Pestalozzi, however, self-criticism was an important prerequisite for self-confidence, because it prevented “imagination, arrogance and conceit - the characteristics of the power man”.

In the case of self-criticism, the prosecutor and judge are one person

However, when the prosecutor and the judge are the same person, that is not a sacred alliance. It is even more likely to have a destructive effect. There are usually two basic strategies for how we deal with it:

  • Self deception

    Instead of being honest with us, analyzing the situation openly and naming the real culprit (if we are the one or the other), we cite the circumstances, the stupid boss, the colleagues, the average moon humidity ... everything else but us . This tactic of self-deception is mainly used for self-protection and could be an indication of weak self-confidence or a bloated ego.

  • Self-criticism

    We find the cause and name it - if in doubt, ruthlessly and in person. It is good if this is done constructively. Bad if we notoriously overdo it, put ourselves down to extremes, deny all abilities and in the process degrade to uselessness and not-for-good. We only stir up feelings of guilt, inferiority complexes, fear and depression.

Constructive versus destructive self-criticism

Some may now object that it doesn't matter as long as we learn enough from our mistakes and don't repeat them any further. The last part is true: we can learn particularly well from mistakes. Studies show, however, that motivation and (improved) performance mainly depend on how realistic we assess ourselves and how constructively we deal with our self-criticism. Quite a few fall off their horses either on one side or the other.

This is especially true for women in professional life: In particular, women rate their own strengths lower than those in their immediate environment. This is, for example, the result of a study by the International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef (IUBH), which examined the skills of more than 1000 employees in various functions across industries.

The women were more self-critical than their male colleagues, especially when it came to skills such as strategic behavior, negotiating skills, sales / closing techniques and conversation skills. Conversely, the male participants tended to overestimate themselves slightly in areas of communication, such as empathy or customer and service orientation.

Where does the destructive self-criticism come from?

If people have a strong tendency to self-criticism and self-contempt, the roots often lie in childhood and the feeling of being “not okay”, which the parents have repeatedly conveyed to you (“You always cause trouble!”, “You can do nothing correct!").

As adults, we adopt this attitude and believe self-hatred and self-condemnation are tried and tested means to become better and to overcome the (supposed) imperfection. Fatal! The opposite is true. Here often only therapy can help to get out of the downward spiral and to reconcile with oneself.

The art of constructive self-criticism

Blaming yourself for something or confronting your own inadequacies is anything but easy to cope with emotionally. Guilt weighs heavily on your shoulders; Failure usually hurts more than physical pain. Nevertheless, it is a sign of personal maturity to take responsibility for yourself and your actions - but also to show benevolent forbearance with yourself. It is even a necessary condition for character development.

Hardship on oneself does not necessarily have to lead to making us better people. Rather, it sometimes leads to procrastination, brooding, and away from the real goal. Effect: We not only feel ineffective, but also worthless and incompetent.

Constructive perspective using the 5-finger method

It's easy to get lost in general questions like ...

  • Am i good or bad?
  • Can I do anything right at all?
  • What am i worth?
  • Why does this always happen to me?

But the questions are neither expedient, nor are they wise. Instead, the art of self-criticism is to take a constructive perspective. This is anything but a secret science; it is just as easy to learn as operating a color copier. For example, using the so-called 5-finger method:

Instructions for self-criticism in four steps

You can also learn to be self-critical - for example, with these instructions in four steps:

  1. Always criticize specific and changeable behaviors.
    In fact, studies repeatedly show that people like to drift into general and dogmatic signals when they scold themselves, motto: “I'm just too stupid for that.” That doesn't help much, nothing can be learned from it anyway. If you are already dragging yourself in front of the inner cadre, then please causally: "Because I stay up too late in the evening, I don't sleep well in the morning and make too many careless mistakes ..." This insight is also ruthlessly honest, but at the same time offers a possible solution.
  2. Be thorough, but not fundamental.
    The constructive critic gathers information and analyzes it thoroughly before paying critical attention. His conclusions are therefore not hasty, but balanced and practical. But they also offer alternatives. Constructive self-criticism therefore thinks associatively with the aim of finding solutions. Accordingly, the scolding never remains without a practicable counter-proposal.
  3. If the circumstances are complicit, try to change them.
    Granted, sometimes we can't really help things go wrong. They seem to do it all by themselves. Seemingly! After all, we at least allowed it to come to this. And that is exactly what needs to be done for the future. Those who criticize want something to improve. So errors that are recognized must have consequences. Otherwise you can save yourself the nagging. So do not leave it at the apology to yourself (which would be wonderfully comfortable), but work constructively on the obviously inadequate circumstances. For example: "Next time I will set myself tighter deadlines so that I can finish early and have time reserves."
  4. Be gentle - even to yourself.
    Perfection is a matter of the gods, while making mistakes is human. And they can happen to anyone. Because of that, they are no less lovable, rather the opposite is true. So be patient with yourself: Shit happens. With each of us. You can accept yourself and still be self-critical.

A poem about self-criticism

By Wilhelm Busch

Self-criticism has a lot to offer.
Suppose I blame myself
First of all, I have the profit
That I am so pretty modest;

Second, people think
The man is all honesty;
Thirdly, I also grab this bite
First of all the other criticisms;

And fourth, I hope so too
On contradiction, which I approve.
So it comes out in the end
That I have a very splendid house.

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