The interesting thing about writing is you become aware of some of your idiosyncrasies (I couldn’t spell that without spellcheck by the way). I am painfully aware that I am way too hard on myself, I’m my own worst critic.
This morning after I composed my blog entry I was looking at some of my previous blog entries, I’ll let you in on a secret, I read and re-read my posts many times before anybody sees them! I often run the posts through a text to speech generator just to get an idea of how it flows when I’m not the one reading the post. I’ll be the first to admit that grammar, run on sentences and punctuation are not my strong suite and at least to some degree I want it to sound as if I’m talking, the way I talk. Recently I did a post “The happiness bank- Be a happiness Ninja” that explored the concept of the happiness ratio that basically says for every 1 unhappy thing in our life we need 3 happy things to maintain the current level of happiness. Seems simple enough right? I gave 3 examples of unhappy situations and explained it would take 6 happy things to maintain the previous level of happiness …. Did you catch it? The correct statement would have been that for every 3 bad things you need 9 good things, 3×3=9 , all day long! I’ll be honest I was way more upset with myself than was even remotely necessary, correct the math and move on, instead I dwelled on it and it literally took away some of my happiness! I bet you can think of situations in your life, maybe even today that you made something way harder on yourself than it needed to be! I wonder if at least in some instances we could simply choose to find humor in ourselves as a healthier approach? Would it not have been way more productive to simply laugh at myself. maybe some inner or even outer monologue “Really ?? Multiply, not add, silly!”, something like that. Way more productive and I lose no happiness because it’s no longer an unhappy thing! Perspective! 😊
Beyond my very simple example, there are some evil elements of being too hard on ourselves that will not only leave happiness in ruins but can actually have some far-reaching effects on our mental health! Probably goes without saying, but anything that damages our mental health is not going to be conducive to finding or sharing happiness!
If you get nothing else out of this blog post this is what I want you to remember … “Growth is not synonymous with failure or success and only exists with the combination of both”, certainly this could be applied to any aspect of your life but most especially your level of happiness. If when we make mistakes we are so hard on ourselves that we can’t find the humor, can’t find the lesson, can’t find the “perspective” then we are doing a great injustice to our level of happiness. I blame our culture for the emphasis on success while ignoring growth.
As it turns out being hard on ourselves has some very real consequences, in an article in The Huffington Post, author Margie Warrell promotes her new book ‘Brave’ with an article on why it’s so important not to be so hard on yourself:
“The negative emotions we create by being overly hard on ourselves not only erode our happiness but change our physiology. Beating up on yourself actually narrows your peripheral vision so that, both metaphorically and literally, you can see less opportunity to address your challenges, fix your mistakes, and create the opportunities you want.”
Simply put: Self-critique is important for growth as long as you commit to being fair with yourself. Constant negative self-assessments lead to low self-esteem, which in turn lead to acts of self-sabotage. You begin to feel like you don’t deserve happiness; you put less effort into achieving your goals; you fail; you feel bad. Wash, rinse, repeat.”
Who knew! Not only can happiness help promote better physical and mental health but inversely being too hard on ourselves, takes away some of our physical and mental health! Perhaps this is why we see the words happy and healthy used together in language, even advertising! You may recall in my post “Happy Thanksgiving” I talked about words that promote happiness, sure enough both are on the list 😊
We can all benefit from finding ways to be kinder to ourselves, our worst critic (ourselves) needs to find a way to be a productive rather than destructive force in our lives. Learn to laugh at ourselves, change our perspective on the way we view mistakes and value the growth opportunity associated instead. We are all human, we all make mistakes, to some degree being so hard on ourselves cripples our ability to deal with and rectify mistakes, it doesn’t make us a better person and steals our happiness! Lighten up! Share the happiness !