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Thursday, 1 May 2014

What's so constructive about criticism??

“I’m no good at this”              
“I’m disorganised”
“I deserve to be told off”              
“I’m lazy”
“I’m usually wrong”

… are just a few of the self-critical thoughts that enter my 
head on a daily basis. These are usually accompanied by feelings of extreme uselessness. Logically and rationally, I know that I have been employed by someone, and continue to be in their employ, so I can’t be as useless as my inner critic makes out, but which voice dominates my mind? What do you think!

In teaching we are encouraged to be “reflective practitioners” which basically means we are encouraged to constantly criticise ourselves. I think this approach leads a lot of teachers to feel generally rubbish about themselves  - we never reach that unattainable goal of “good enough”. I’m sure this is the same for other industries and professions too.

I don’t know if it’s my moral, honest, self-sacrificing Christian upbringing (I’m very much of the atheistic persuasion, so that didn’t really work), or if it’s a British cultural thing, or maybe just a human disposition for martyrdom but I perceive in many people  a general feeling that we are not good enough in our work and our lives in general. Why is this such a pervasive theme?

Recently I have been reading You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, which was recommended to me by a lovely friend and colleague. The most powerful message of this book is that self-approval is far more powerful than self-criticism.

I don’t generally go in for affirmations, but since reading this book I have found myself reciting a few on the way to work each morning (and they do seem to have a positive effect):

“I release the need to feel anxious”

“I release the need for stress”

I can actually feel the knot in my stomach relaxing as I repeat these to myself, and a calming effect comes over me. Listening to soothing classical music also helps to mellow me out.

And when I’m in work I recite:

“I release the need to be criticized”.

For I’ve been criticizing myself my whole life and where has it got me? Bogged down by self-doubt, low self-esteem and depressive tendencies. In her beautiful book, Hay encourages us to “love and approve” of ourselves to overcome this. Sounds good to me!

          “Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change… Remember, you have been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” You Can Heal Your Life, Chapter 1, pg 9.

Tomorrow I’m going to approve of my lessons, my work and myself all day long :) 

If you like what you have read, please share this blog and subscribe with your email! Many thanks, ChamomileTea xxx

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