Wake Up To Your Heroism (Don't Be Your Worst Critic!)
Today I wanted to write about something that's a really important topic for me personally. I want to help you deal with some of the harsh criticism that you hear on a daily basis from people that just don't get it.
I've been called weak, over-sensitive, a coward, neurotic, problematic and abnormal in the past. And I have thought a lot about these snide remarks. I tried to understand where they were coming from to take away some of the edge and also to discover the constructive criticism behind those words.
It hasn't been easy.
In my experience for many people unfamiliar with anxiety, it seems like anxious people are "playing it safe" or that they lack "mental fortitude." Of course nothing could be further from the truth but how do you tell that to someone who thinks that you choose to perceive the world the way you do? Or should you even bother to help them understand your experience of the world?
You Are Your Worst Critic
Well, my philosophy is that first of all we should look inside and try to set straight our own prejudices and misconceptions about our anxiety. Because what I've found is that when it comes to snide remarks, thinly veiled insults or harsh criticism, my inner voice is hands down my worst critic of them all.
And this is not all bad of course, being the worst critic of yourself kind of makes you a perfectionist, right? It makes you want to do a really good job, pay attention to detail and usually get pretty good feedback for what you do. But it also makes you stiff and anxious all the time expecting either dishonest praise or harsh criticism.
In the past it had gotten to the point where even if no one said anything even remotely judgmental, I managed to twist their words in my mind in a way that made their feedback look like a snide remark or some shady insult.
Treat Yourself Like You Would Your Best Friend
I think that one of the most important insights about my anxiety has been that I have to stop being my own worst critic. I've realized that I need to stop setting impossibly high expectations for myself. I need to learn to accept negative feedback and to take criticism.
And by accepting criticism I don't mean just grinning and bearing it, anxiously waiting for it to be over. You need to genuinely make a shift in your thinking to start seeing criticism from a different angle. Perhaps as a seed for change and growth or an opportunity for improvement.
For me that was the single most powerful leverage point in my life that allowed me to control my anxiety.
I started noticing that I was treating other people better than I was treating myself. It goes to show that anxiety has a terrific sense of humor. While it was turning me into my worst critic, it also endowed me with a great sense of empathy toward other people. I grew genuinely interested in the problems of others, I liked to listen to them and help them.
I realized that there was a very stark contrast between the way I was treating myself and the way I was treating others. I acted almost like a bully toward myself but I was a gentle, helpful and compassionate person toward others.
Wake Up To Your Heroism
And finally, give yourself credit where credit is due.
Anxiety might be in your head but that doesn't make it any less real. It's real for you and that's what matters.
Day by day you are waging a mental war against your psychological demons that are doing their best to drain your energy, distract your mind and steal your joy. Falling asleep every day is a struggle, getting out of bed every morning is a war and optimism is a luxury you can't afford.
And yet, you refuse to give up. No matter how bleak tomorrow may seem from behind a wall of fear, you pull through and embrace the myriad tests and challenges of a new day. Where other people only see a trivial daily routine such as walking into a room full of people, you exert superhuman effort and muster enormous courage to do the same.
And you do it.
Even though talking to strangers is a battle, you arm yourself with courage and willpower and rush to the front lines to emerge victorious.
You live a life halfway between illusion and reality where sometimes you know you're safe but your body is telling you otherwise. In these moments of panic and confusion where the very fabric of reality seems to fall apart, you arm yourself with composure and command your logic to dispel the illusion that's keeping you hostage.
Every single day you look your worst fears straight in the eye and walk away with a stronger resolve each time. You are a silent warrior whose battle cries no one can hear and whose triumphs only a chosen few can witness. You are a spectacular hero who has survived countless battles and tests and stands tall to tell the tale.
Very few people could do what you've been doing every single day.
You possess a special kind of courage and strength: you can achieve victory over yourself. You do that every day.
I learned from the brilliant thinker and marketing genius Eben Pagan that every external victory is proceeded by an internal victory. Own your internal victories and turn them into external victories!
Sometimes it's a good idea to stop and look back at how far you've come. When you look in the mirror, see how tough you actually are, how strong anxiety has made you and how courageous you have become. Be proud of yourself, see your improvements and own your achievements.
Stop being your worst critic and start treating yourself like you would treat your best friend.
As the Buddha said
It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Than the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels, or by demons, heaven or hell.
Alright, that's it for today guys. I hope you found today's post helpful. If have anything to add, leave it in the comments section below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.