Many of us are great at helping others see the best in themselves but fail when it comes to seeing the best in ourselves. We may have something that we would like to try but our inner critic tells us that we’re not good enough, so we don’t proceed with the pursuit.
I’ve been guilty of reminding myself of all my faults and past failures and if I did not choose to silence the criticisms about me that I believed were true, I would not have accomplished much of what I had wanted to achieve in life.
There are times when criticism can be a good thing. Perhaps you are familiar with the term, constructive criticism. The problem with constructive criticism is how it is sometimes received; what might have been intended as good advice can come across in an offensive way to the person receiving it.
I can vividly recall an instance from my corporate work experience when our department conducted a 360-degree feedback session among each team of the department. The concept was for our team, consisting of 15 employees to gather around a table in a meeting room and share our thoughts about how each of us worked together. Each person was assigned to share two excellent working qualities about a particular person and also mention one thing that the individual team member could improve on regarding the work environment. Most everyone on the team cringed at the idea at first, but as mature adults and due to it being a corporate-wide initiative, we all proceeded with our assignment. The day arrived for our team to meet and things seemed to progress along rather smoothly but everyone appeared to wiggle a bit when the part about improving something about themselves commenced.
Most of the participants were gracious and they did a good job with the assignment. The experience was many years ago, but I can still remember the things that each person shared with me regarding what area I needed improvement in. There was nothing bad that was said about me, each person was kind and had excellent things to say but all I could remember were the things about me that were lacking, in my mind.
In hindsight, I wish I had kept the list of all the right things, but at that point in my life, I thought it was a good practice to focus on what was wrong and work on correcting it. I held myself back from experiencing many great possibilities due to this type of thinking. Shifting my focus to positive traits instead of negative ones has helped me have more confidence in myself. It is important to remember that there will always be some things we need to work on improving for ourselves, but we must not let them define our worth. Everyone has an area that they could improve on in one way or another. Throughout our lives, we may succeed in overcoming an issue or changing something and soon after, another struggle comes along. Looking at our challenges, analyzing things that we can learn from and making an effort to do our best is all a part of our continued growth.
There are many times when a trusted friend’s constructive criticism can be helpful. They can keep you challenged and point out some things that you might not see. Don’t let any negative comments take root in your mind. Remember all of the qualities about you that are good. It’s OK to have conviction about some things but don’t let the conviction turn into condemnation. If there is something that you would like to do better, view it from a personal growth perspective rather than something about you that you think needs to be corrected.
Romans 8:38-39 English Standard Version (ESV)
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.