Aren't introverts brave enough to make suggestions

This is how you use criticism for your self-confidence

Guest contribution by 7Mind

Anyone who observes children quickly comes to the conclusion that self-confidence is something quite natural. The naturalness with which young people approach life seems to be lost with increasing age. No wonder, because after all, we go through a lot in the course of life. On the one hand, it is the small and large blows of fate and relationship crises that gnaw at our self-confidence. On the other hand, the demands of society, which pushes us forward with the pressure to perfect and perform. So being confident can be a real challenge, especially when we are confronted with criticism or negative feedback.

The fact is, a healthy self-confidence helps us face the challenges of life courageously. Regardless of whether it is a first date, a backpacking trip in India or a job change after decades at a job - anyone who gets involved in unknown situations absolutely needs the necessary confidence in themselves to take the next step. Unfortunately, as adults, we often become our own greatest critics. This makes it all the more difficult to deal with external criticism. How can we use negative feedback constructively to become more self-conscious? We found answers in psychology. And at the end of the day they will give you three valuable tips on how you can better deal with criticism while remaining self-confident.

The psychology of self-awareness

In our general understanding, self-esteem is often equated with an inflated ego. By definition, self-confidence means nothing other than being aware of yourself. And that is in any case a desirable state of being. In psychology, the concept of self-awareness takes into account both a person's strengths and weaknesses. When you know that you are creative, have leadership skills, or can work very independently, you are self-aware. If you admit to yourself that you are very introverted, have a tendency to stubbornness or lose your nerve quickly during lectures or presentations, then you are also “self-confident”. Knowing your weaknesses exactly has the great advantage that you can then accept them as part of your own personality and no longer have to try to hide them with all your might.

It gets tricky when your own self-perception differs from how others see us. Because we often have our own ideas of how we should be and which image we would like to give. An image that is not infrequently in conflict with our real inner life. How often do you wish to appear patient, frugal, or understanding, even though you are disappointed and struggling with an outburst of anger? The self quickly finds itself in a rather large contradiction. And through this internal split, you lose consciousness in the truest sense of the word. It sounds paradoxical, but the greatest threat to self-esteem is actually ourselves. So before we can deal with outside criticism, we must first learn to face the greatest critic of all: the voices in our own heads.

Meet the inner critic

As soon as a job rejection lands in the e-mail inbox, many people have a single thought: “I'm not good enough”, and even with small mishaps, an inner voice immediately sounds that asks “How can you be so stupid?” . In the event of negative experiences, we like to pull the club out and really hit it again. We know that this approach has not helped anyone. Nevertheless, it is always an act of strength to stand up to the inner critic. Our suggestion: try self-pity!

Granted, this tip sounds a bit strange. The American psychologist Mark Leary, from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem (USA), was able to prove, however, that people who are prone to self-pity are much better able to deal with negative experiences. In one of his tests, participants were asked to imagine what it would feel like to lose an important athletic competition. The surprise: subjects who assessed themselves as very self-confident at the beginning of the study found it difficult to cope with the defeat. They responded to the situation with inner guiding principles such as “I am a real loser”. The rest of the participants felt sorry for themselves, but treated each other more like a good friend, saying things like “Everyone makes a mistake”.

Self-pity is not your thing? You can also call it self-compassion. What would you say to a family member after losing a match? Of course, most of all you would try to mentally rebuild the loved one. Do the same with yourself and then evaluate the situation again very soberly. Maybe you didn't achieve your goal because you just set yourself too much. Maybe you spilled your morning coffee on your shirt because you started the day hectically. Or you simply lack the inner peace and serenity to meet your own requirements. Don't forget that everyone goes through periods of productivity and passivity. Sometimes we feel energetic and on other days we hardly get out of bed, even though nothing special has changed in our everyday life. Should you encounter the inner critic, first see how you are really doing. And start speaking to yourself in a supportive way!

3 tips on how to take advantage of criticism

Condemning ourselves for a mishap further weakens self-confidence and makes us less receptive to outside criticism. And we absolutely need that in order to grow and develop a healthy awareness of ourselves. That's why we provide three tips on how you can take advantage of external criticism without despair.

1. Use criticism as a mirror

Nobody likes to hear criticism of themselves. Nevertheless, we should not shut ourselves off from the feedback from our environment. We know from mindfulness research that every person has so-called “blind spots” in their self-perception. Classical psychology also regards the external perspective as extremely valuable. From others we learn something about our own impact, we can compare different perspectives and receive important clues about our own character. This gives us access to traits that we rarely or only reluctantly illuminate.

How do you manage not to despair of external criticism? In the first step it is important not to classify your different traits into “good” and “bad”. Accept yourself as you are, because every person acts unconsciously from time to time and sometimes hurts another person in the process. If someone points out your hurtful behavior, it is a valuable mirror that can help you to become more (self-) aware.

2. Actively request criticism

Of course, you should evaluate each situation individually. Criticism that becomes too personal or is deliberately phrased in a hurtful way does not have to be taken to heart. A tip to increase your own critical ability: Actively request feedback! If you are unsure whether you have behaved appropriately or whether you have solved a task satisfactorily, ask people around you for feedback. At first, this can be a real overcoming, especially when it comes to difficult colleagues or the manager. On the other hand, you are taking the wind out of the sails of critics and are more likely to reap constructive suggestions for improvement than encounter resistance.

3. Really take in criticism

The most important point is that you listen carefully and do not immediately react to what is said or follow overly violent impulses to act. Pay your counterpart your full attention and follow up if something is unclear to you. So nothing falls under the table and you are then less inclined to chase the criticism through your own interpretation loop again.

Take the freedom to get to know yourself in all your facets and use your environment as a source for your own self-knowledge and further development. And if criticism hits you unexpectedly, make yourself aware that nobody is perfect. Try to respond positively to criticism and take advantage of it rather than despair. Being confident also means being vulnerable. And that's human, so trust yourself!

In the 7Mind online magazine, new articles and impulses appear every week on the topics of mindfulness and meditation. The team provides up-to-date food for thought, coupled with scientifically sound facts on key areas such as success, work, happiness and relationships.