I am a recovering critique-a-holic. I have critiqued myself and others all my life and it wasn’t until recently that I realized the depth of the problem.
Critiquing myself and others always instilled in me a sense of pride. It gave me the feeling that I was not going to settle for anything less than perfection; I was pushing myself and others to greatness. To not critique was to settle, which in my world was to fail.
As a child, I never settled. In my teens, I volunteered to work with children with disabilities every year; got a job, or jobs, every summer; got a scholarship to high school and to colleges; worked hard to get As in all my advanced classes; went to Georgetown, a top-notch college; and worked hard to get good grades, participate in extracurricular activities and work.
Ultimately I never took more than a moment during all that time to really tell myself great job, and feel fully a sense of satisfaction at achieving. Almost immediately I would begin to compare and contrast how it wasn’t the best scholarship; or I missed one answer; or that was nice but I haven’t reached goal X yet. Friends, families and strangers were not immune from the critiquing, but I was a little easier on them than on myself. From time to time I had a sense that “this isn’t healthy”, but I dove back in because it had become such a habit that it was almost impossible to break.
Well I am breaking it.
Finally after almost 40 years (yes this mentality started early), I am looking back on my life and praising myself. I did well. I achieved. I have touched lives in a positive way. But it is a struggle every day to not fall back into a well developed habit of critiquing. I have to force myself daily to praise myself and others.
Some might say this is happiness, others will say it is positive thinking, and some might say “Finally she is less bitchy.” To me it is relief. To me it is the right way to live life – to try hard, to say good job, to really mean it, and to be satisfied – that deep in your gut kind of satisfaction. Remember ultimately it is about the journey not the goal. With every honest step we take moving forward in life, as parents, as employees, as individuals, we need to revel in the greatness that is already “you” and not tarnish that with constant criticism.