A day without criticism

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My job sucks, I don’t like my boss. I hate my politician. I don’t think I can ever lose weight. There is no diet plan that works for me. These are just a few criticisms, we “mere mortals” harp on everyday. If we analyze our lives closely we will find that not only do we have an opinion on everything under the sun, but the opinion is mostly negative. Social media is a big testament of that fact. Log on to facebook and twitter, and you will know what I mean.

 As a sports and a fitness coach I see a lot of self bashing. Over indulgence in criticism is a big reason why we limit of our abilities. These are some of the criticisms I have heard on the field.

  • My athletic ability is not improving, it’s not meant to be.
  • I cannot even run 400 metres. I am good for nothing.
  • I am not losing weight. It will never happen.

Constant criticism of ourselves and others limits us in 2 major ways.

  1.  Limits our experiences: The more experiences we have in life, the richer our life becomes. It is not the age that make us wiser, but the varying experiences we encounter. However, constant criticism puts us in a state of negative emotion and that further dampens our desire to try different things and meet new people. After all, we all want to avoid negativity, don’t we?
  2.  Takes away our support system: Behind every achievement there is a team of people. Think of anything you have ever achieved and then think about how many people were involved. You did not achieve anything alone, there was always a support system present at all times. When we criticize, we draw people away from us. Not only the ones we criticize are drawn away, but also the ones who witness criticism. Would you like to hang out with a friend who is always criticizing?

 All we do during the process of criticism is put a ceiling above us, thereby limiting our growth. Wouldn’t it be great if we can somehow magically stop criticizing ourselves and others? Accepting and embracing people and events as they are. I decided to change things in my life a few years ago, and since then it has worked wonders not only for me, but for others around me. Here’s what I did.

 Recognize what you feel: Realization is always the first step. Simply paying attention to what you are thinking at a particular moment will get you closer to getting rid of criticizing.

 Accept and embrace: Accept things and people as they are and that will go a long way in coming out of the criticism loop. Let all the negativity you hold meltdown, and the moment you realize that things are getting messy, hold yourself back to pass any judgments.

Use social media as your strength: Social media has truly changed how we interact with the world, and we have almost come a full circle. We started with a lot of enthusiasm, but eventually burnouts and psychological issues started coming to the forefront. Sharing content that’s positive and motivates others will create the snowball effect of positivity. One can always find ways of putting forth ideas and views without sounding judgmental or negative. Think before you post.

 Criticism fast: Many cultures around the world observe food/water fasting at various times of the year and most of it is for religious reasons. The scientific rationale behind fasting is that it helps detoxify the body by giving our metabolism rest from the usual churning. What if we can detoxify our minds from time to time? That’s what I did 1 day a week a few years ago and now it’s a part of my everyday life. One day a week you will not pass judgments, but accept, embrace and not criticize anyone or anything.

I truly believe that we have the power to change our lives for the better. A lot of our problems in today’s times are caused due to criticism in various forms. Let’s all try and make small changes in how we think and act. Let’s make each day “A day without criticism”

Comments

  1. Dr. Mousumi Debnath says

    Well written with insights of the true perception of life, recognizing the strengths and endeavoring them to nuture

  2. says

    Let me share my story..

    During grad school I joined a lab of a PI who was known to be tough on students. But calling him tough was an understatement. He criticized me almost everyday during the two years I was part of his lab.. and the criticism was not just about work, it was about how I maintained my lab notebook, about my schedule, about how I organized my desk. It was so bad towards the end that I decided to quit. What I realize now is that the two years of constant and often harsh criticism I faced, actually made me a better researcher. I don’t regret quitting, but I do cherish that experience.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that criticism is a good thing.. You just need a thick enough skin to take it and make it work for you. It won’t be a pleasant experience, but it can be used as source of motivation.

    And I also think what your are describing as self criticism.. I would call it self doubt. Self doubt can be a trap, but self criticism can do wonders.

  3. Nipun says

    Thanks for sharing your story Kanhav. I see where you are coming from, since I have been in similar situations innumerable times. Feedback is definitely important and helps us grow. However, feedback is not equivalent to criticism. I believe that had your boss not criticized you, but focussed more on giving you a constructive feedback it would have worked out much better. All of us go through self doubt, but it should never end in criticism. I hope that makes sense.

    • says

      I know feedback and criticism are not the same, but they do go well together.. You have to criticize and point out a mistake before giving a feedback on how to improve it.. Had my boss just given me just a feedback rather than criticize me, I would not have been as good at my job as I am today.

      My opinion on this is completely different. Being judgmental and critical is in our DNA… this is what we do as a species.. I’ll rather embrace that fact and make it work for me. So what if someone criticizes me, I’m not going to sit around and weep about it. Yes I would be pissed, but I would make it a point to prove the other person wrong, either by improving myself or criticizing them back. It’s a tough world. We just need to suck it up and take it like an adult.

      Although when it comes to kids, we need to be careful. I’m not saying we should not criticize them at all.. but it should be directed towards building their confidence and self belief not the other way around.

  4. says

    As always, great blog Nipun :) My thoughts on criticism is that, we have two types: constructive and destructive. There is a fine line between the two which differs from each individual. A person who considers a glass half-full might take every criticism to be constructive, and thus, has a positive outlook on life. On the contrary, a person who thinks a glass is half-empty has a not-so-positive outlook. Rather than saying that every criticism has to be taken as constructive, I would say that we need to draw that fine line within ourselves that would clearly divide criticisms that we need to consider and other criticisms that we need to ignore.

  5. Nipun says

    Very well put together thoughts Shhyam. Thanks for sharing them. There will always be individual differences as all of us respond to the same stimuli in different ways. However, on an average criticism will leave a bad memory for all the parties involved, and bad memories lead to negative consequences. Our goal should be to create good memories for ourselves and for others.

  6. vikram arora says

    Hi Nipun

    I would like to add onto it. The individual giving the feedback and the person taking it are key in defining how that feedback is taken by the receiver. If the person giving the feedback is a just and thoughtful individual, his inputs will definitely be taken in positive light. In case the person giving the feedback is a person is always complaining about things and himself is not following what he is preaching will never be taken positively.

    The problem is these days people belonging to the second category are mindlessly clogging the net and social working sites with criticism.

    One example stands out is the public bashing Yuvaraj for his failure in a single match. Not many of us will be able to achieve 1 percent of what he has already done in his life till now. And the people were up in arms against him like a mob. I like your article and I feel having a positive attitude is the key.

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