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IT’S OKAY TO SELF-CRITIQUE
I've spent the past four years trying to uplift myself and become the kind of confident, powerful woman that I've always wanted to be. I developed a deep spiritual practice and read a ton of self-help books to help me overcome anxiety and depression, so that I could live my life to the fullest. I meditated, practiced yoga, studied mindfulness, and learned about a multitude of different philosophies that I believed could help me be happier. All of these things did help me. I no longer heavily struggle with mental health problems and, overall, I have truly blossomed into somebody who can confidently enter a room and not be plagued with negative thoughts about how no one would like me. Truly, I've come an exceptionally long way. However, it seems that on my spiritual and self-help journey, I missed something: self-critique.
Although I've definitely changed for the better and corrected some of my not-so-great qualities, I've truly forgotten to take a good, hard look at myself and be honest with what I need to work on. Often times, we're told that we're perfect just the way we are and that people should accept us and, if they don't, they're the problem. In some ways, that's certainly true. We are all created equally and perfectly and no one's opinion should influence how we feel about ourselves, but part of progressing as a person is truly seeing where we need improvement. If we continue to explain away all of our bad habits with "this is just how I am" not only will we drive away true connection in our lives, but we'll fail to truly be happy with ourselves.
I learned this lesson while reading the book, The Game of Desire by Shan Boodram. Even though, on the surface, this is a book about dating, when you take a deeper look, it's really about making meaningful connections with people, including yourself. This book had five women taking an honest look in the mirror to figure out what was holding them back from creating the kind of relationships and connections that they wanted. A big part of this process was self-analyzing and getting real about what traits they had that pushed people away. This particular part in the book really stuck with me because, being someone who prides themselves in "self-improvement," I realized that maybe I wasn't doing quite as good of a job as I thought.
I expected that people should like me because I like me, but, upon second look, maybe I've been focusing way too much on myself and less on who I am in relation to others. For example, I expect people to take a genuine interest in who I am and my life, but I might not always come across as being interested or caring about theirs. I spend so much of my life being silent and not speaking my mind that, now that I've found my voice, I have a hard time stopping myself from using it too much. I also have found that, because I can be so sensitive, I often put up a front of sarcasm that really borderlines just being mean and that's not attractive to anyone.
My point here isn't about changing ourselves to become appealing to others, but realizing the negative patterns in our lives that are stopping us from finding true happiness. Personally, I think that human connection is one of the most important factors in our lives that keep us feeling fulfilled. I know that for myself, when I feel secluded and alone, those are the times when I'm most prone to depression. But, self-critique doesn't have to just be for the sake of your relationships with others, but also for your relationship with yourself.
Having a good relationship with yourself is absolutely paramount to living a happy healthy life, yet, we don't often prioritize that relationship. Self-love and true acceptance is a huge part of this, but so is self-improvement and truly getting to know ourselves, the good and the bad. You can't have a good relationship with yourself if you're not seeing yourself for who you really are. That means, taking it all in, looking at your positive traits, but also your negative ones and how you came to be who you are today. It means, true analysis into the depths of yourself, figuring yourself out. This process isn't easy and you may find some things that you don't like about yourself. But, that gives you the opportunity to evolve and change for the better and truly fall in love with yourself.
As usual, this got a little ramble-y and probably off topic, but what I'm trying to say is: don't be afraid to get real with yourself. To live our lives to the fullest, we must become the greatest versions of ourselves and keep striving to do better. I know that it can be hard to face the truth about negative patterns in our lives, but the strength that it takes to do just that will only make you a stronger and better person.
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