This positive-thinking experiment has been enlightening already, and I’m only two days in. I’ve found that it’s easier to notice your own negativity when you have others to point it out for you. Be overly-critical or negative in your conversations with someone, and they’re likely to point it out to you eventually.
But when that negativity is directed at yourself?
No one else hears it.
No one else is hurt by it.
No one else can point it out to you.
It just festers in you, and eventually it’s going to make you sick.
My blogging probably makes it clear that I don’t take myself too seriously. I have a self-deprecating sense of humor that I inherited from my dad’s side of the family, and I really like that I’m able to laugh at myself and all the goofy and embarrassing things I do. But sometimes, we can use a self-deprecating sense of humor to make light of a serious habit of self-criticism.
I know I sure have.
Trust me, I’m one of the last people you’ll hear spouting some “self-love” ideology (I think Oprah has that market pretty well-cornered…), but I have learned that it’s actually healthy and productive to acknowledge your own achievements, progress, and strengths. It’s not easy when you’re used to focusing on your weaknesses and failures. Heck, it’s easy to convince yourself that being critical of yourself and seeking out your weaknesses will “inspire” you to change and overcome those weaknesses.
Except it doesn’t work that way.
Recognizing your failures and examining them will allow you to see what you did well and what you did wrong; armed with that knowledge you can adjust accordingly and come back stronger. But fixating on your failures will eventually lead you to seek them out. If there aren’t enough objective failures to find, you can find ways to create them by putting a negative spin on benign qualities or accomplishments. And all this time you are focusing on what you’re doing wrong or the impossible roadblocks you have to face, you are ignoring what you’re doing right.
What you are accomplishing.
What you have already overcome.
What you’re doing that works.
It’s a vicious cycle, and it does no one any good.
That’s why I’m taking 30 days to try to rewire my thought patterns towards a more realistic perspective, where I notice my victories as much as my defeats.
Negative thought patterns are habits, and they’re damn hard to break.
But they’re damn worth breaking, that’s for sure.
After all, perpetual self-criticism makes it easy to forget the compassion of Christ. He, in all His holiness and perfection, saw you, in all your brokenness and humanity, and declared you to be worth His compassion, His mercy, and ultimately, His life. Do you not think He, the omnipotent One who created you, knows your worth far more deeply than you do? For me to wallow in self-criticism is to tell my Maker that He somehow got it wrong.
If He deemed us worthy of compassion, then who are we to say otherwise?