Criticism Leads to Negative Self Talk Leads to Inaction

Written by Jonathan

Earlier this week I was training a client that I have been training for several years. We train at 5am two mornings a week and despite the early time and occasional grumpiness we get along pretty well. She’s an avid reader of the blog and shares it with a lot of her friends and colleagues, which I think means, she thinks we’re creating valuable and useful information.

This week we were chatting as we normally do during the session and she asked me who edited the blog because there are always typos and speling mistakes, she said that really bothers her and I should do a better job having ‘my stuff’ edited. I replied ‘I edit my own stuff, so what do you like about the blog then?’ and she got a sheepish look on her face that only someone close to her would understand and she laughed ‘Okay, I get it’.
Constructive criticism has its place, I value all feedback I get and if I feel it will make the user experience or help better convey our message then I will try my best to implement it. Getting feedback and being open to receiving it is important, however all too often it’s our default response.

When our initial response to something we read, watch or talk about to ourselves, is critical, we can become so ‘brought down’ by it we forget about the positive and helpful things we do and consume and forget how much progress we’ve made. Being critical is so easy, it’s easy to say something is flawed, that someone speaks using incorrect grammar and it’s easy to tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough. When we look at the person on the other side of the street running in short shorts and a sports bra, all too often our default is to be critical of ourselves and to think we’re not good enough or worse be critical of that person and bring them down in our minds so we can feel better about own criticizing selves.

When I was younger I almost failed all the writing portions of all my English classes. I’m still not a very good writer, but I am much better than I used to be. We have a message we’re trying to get out, to look at fitness a different way and give people the tools they need to be inspired, motivated and exercise effectively for their whole lives. I think it’s a noble message in this era of quick fixes, fad diets and 90 day body transformation challenges. I could have sat on the sidelines with our message ‘stuck’ in my mind because I’m not a good writer and not done anything with it or I could choose my alternative (which I did choose) and that is to share our message and write anyway, to get better at it and not worry about the mistakes I’m going to make. As long as I’m continually trying to get better (which I am) then that’s what’s really important.

My writing’s not perfect the exact same way your first exercise program isn’t perfect or your first push-up isn’t perfect. What about the first time you walked into a gym turned around and walked out because you were afraid of what other people will think of you when you don’t know how to use the equipment? Too often our default is to be critical of ourselves, which leads to negative self-talk which leads to in-action, but to this I say ‘Neh, neh it’s time for that to change!’

The next time you read something, watch something or do something the very second you hear yourself being critical take two steps back and look at the positive. Stop making critical your default, it will never be perfect and there will always be something to criticize or someone to be critical of you. So stop being so hard on yourself. I know I have and it’s pretty liberating.

And yes I intentionally misspelled ‘spelling’ earlier in this post, but all the other typos and spelling mistakes are unintentional, so please over look them.

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