Self-criticism can help with an individual’s growth, but Danny Baker wants you to remember that it’s important not to let it get out of hand.
Let me start this post by asking you a very important question:
When you have an interaction with someone that doesn’t go according to plan, do you automatically assume that it’s “your fault”, or a consequence of one of you “personal failings”?
For example, you give your boss what you feel is a really good piece of work, but your boss isn’t particularly enthusiastic about it—and as a result, you jump to the conclusion that you’re the weak link in the team, and that your boss doesn’t value your contribution at all.
Another example: you partner says they’re not in the mood to have sex, and you jump to the conclusion that they’re losing interest in you.
A third example: you go on a date with someone, and they don’t call you for a second date––or when you call them, they turn you down; as a result, you jump to the conclusion that you’re boring and unattractive.
Have you ever done something like this before?
I know I definitely have. I’ve definitely caused myself a lot of pain by convincing myself that the way someone else reacts to something I’ve done is a direct reflection on me.
But what I eventually learned is that when we think like this, what we’re doing is completely ignoring the fact that the way someone reacts to us is not only a reflection on us, but also a reflection on them and their circumstances.
Let’s go back to our examples.
Firstly, you give your boss what you really feel is a good piece of work, but they aren’t enthusiastic about it—and as a result, you jump to the conclusion that you’re the weak link in the team and that your boss doesn’t value your contribution.
But isn’t it also possible that they were just in a bad mood because of something else that’s entirely unrelated to you, and that their less-than-enthusiastic response to your work was just a projection of their bad mood?
And if you’re honest with yourself, haven’t you done this before? Hasn’t there been a time when your partner or your friend or your son or your daughter has come to you with something they’re really excited about, and you’ve brushed them off because you’ve been angry or upset about something else?
Now let’s turn to our second example, where your partner says they’re not in the mood to have sex, and you jump to the conclusion that they’re losing interest in you.
But isn’t it possible that they’re just tired and not in the mood? Isn’t it possible that they’re stressed out about something else, and for that reason, not in the mood? Isn’t it possible that they have something on early the next morning and just want to get some sleep? Aren’t any of these reasons possible—in addition to a bunch of other reasons?
And, hasn’t there been a time when you’ve done the exact same thing yourself? Haven’t you turned down having sex with your partner before not because you’re not longer attracted to them, but because of some other completely unrelated reason?
What about our third example, where a first date with someone doesn’t lead to a second, so you jump to the conclusion that you’re boring and unattractive.
But isn’t it also possible that the reason that person decided not to go on a second date with you is not because they think you’re boring and unattractive, but because they have a fear of commitment? Or because they met someone else? Or because they’re coming off a recent break-up and on second thoughts, aren’t ready to start dating someone again?
And again, haven’t you at some point decided not to go on a second date with someone for a reason that’s actually completely unrelated to that person?
Here’s the point: just because somebody has a less than positive response to something we do, we can’t jump to negative conclusions about ourselves—because when we do this, we are completely ignoring the fact that we are only a part—and sometimes only a very small part—of that person’s world. They—like us—have got a million things going on in their head that influence their decisions and their responses to certain events, and for this reason, it’s entirely possible that when they have a less than positive reaction to something we say or do, it has absolutely nothing to do with us.
And knowing this, and being conscious of it, can be a very powerful, soothing concept that can eliminate a lot of our stress.
So the next time someone has a bad response to you in some way, just remember this, OK? Remember that not everything is about you, and remember not to use that person’s actions to jump to a bunch of negative conclusions about yourself that probably aren’t true.
If you can do this, you’ll be all the happier for it.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you may also like Danny’s book titled “MY RECOVERY BLUEPRINT—How I overcame depression in three straightforward steps and how you can do the same.” Grab your copy from Amazon here.