Welcome to my first article in the Think Twice Series. This series is about the quotidian shit that we face on a daily basis, but often overlook due to our hectic schedules. Essentially, I want to bring attention to aspects of our lives that we don’t think about twice—we just do it. Don’t get me wrong—establishing a routine and philosophy is important when trying to meet goals, but sometimes changing your perspective is what you need to add a little spice (or kick) to keep you ascending in your uphill journey to success.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Tick Tock, Tick Tock: The Critic That Never Sleeps:
It’s 11:59 pm—only 60 seconds until a new day begins. My eyelids begin to waver; how much longer can I keep them open? I decide to use the last 60 seconds to reflect on my accomplishments for the day: finished my paper on fatty acid metabolism, hit a 3 rep PR on the squat, and aced a mid-term. Some people might say I had a great day, but I am NOT some people! I can’t help but wonder: Is my paper good enough? Was I capable of squatting another 5 lbs.? If I studied longer and harder, would that have been the difference between a great score and perfect score on my exam (the highest in the class).
30…29…28…27. Most of my contemporaries have called it a day, hit the pillow, and are slowly dowsing off into bliss—I continue to work. Much like the clock that lies in front of me, I run morning, evening, and night. Until my heart ceases to pump—the batteries run out—I will continue to tick closer to attainment. I cannot be stopped; my biggest critic (myself) won’t allow it!
Who Is Your Biggest Critic?
Maybe your biggest critic is your mom, dad, sister, manager, coworker, teacher, or a fat middle aged troll (still living in his mom’s basement) hounding you relentlessly in the YouTube comments section. It seems like they are always getting on your case about something: “You are getting fat; did you stop working out.” “You did ____ (insert activity) completely wrong. Do it again!” “Shouldn’t you be studying for your exam instead of hanging out with your friends tonight?” Don’t you wish everybody would shut up?!
Be your own drill instructor. Never satisfied.
When your biggest critic provides criticism (constructive, positive, or negative), how do you respond? In my experience, people are less open to external criticism; they often ignore the critique or attack the other person giving the critique. In both cases, the person fails to make any changes. On the other hand, some people rely solely on other’s feedback for improvement. If their critic doesn’t lay it out for them, they continue on with their lives without making any beneficial changes. In essence, we either put too much emphasize or not enough on external criticism. In either case, we fail to make positive changes that will ultimately make us a better person.
What Happens When Criticism Comes From Within (Internal)?
Unlike external criticism, which is limited by what others say, internal criticism has no limits. When critique comes from within, the possibilities are endless—the only thing limiting you is you! Not only is internal criticism limitless, it is more powerful—leads to long term changes. For instance, let’s say I want to get an A in the hardest chemistry class in my major—organic chemistry. My biggest critic (myself; let’s call him Mr. Critic) points out that I have been slacking off and lack a well-thought-out study plan. The internal pressure from Mr. Critic galvanizes me into action—I put together a study plan and increase my studying time to 10 hrs./week. My hard work pays off—I finish the semester with an A! Consequently, the changes made for organic chemistry carry over to my other classes. As a result, I graduate at the top of my class. In this scenario, the internal critique led to short-term—and eventually long-term—positive change.
Do you feel that? There is something inside of you that wants out—it’s time you let the critic out of their cage. Don’t worry—he won’t bite (too hard).
Become Friends With Your Biggest Critic:
The critic inside you doesn’t have to be your mortal enemy; he isn’t a bad guy/gal when you get to know him/her—let’s give them a chance. The key when critiquing yourself is to focus on constructive criticism—feedback that you can put to good use and will lead to positive changes. Allowing your critic to demean or chagrin your efforts may lead to positive changes in the short-term, but can be enervating in the long run. For instance, Mr. Scathing Critic calls you out for putting on weight. “Hey Fat Ass, when was the last time you worked out? Looks like you have been enjoying those Big Macs from McDonalds too. You are such a slob.” Mr. Scathing Critic’s words yank you off the couch and into the gym. Within two weeks you lose 5 lbs. However, within days of hitting your weight loss goal, you relapse and binge eat off the dollar menu at McDonalds. And so it begins—the perpetual cycle of yo-yo weight loss.
In contrast, Mr. Constructive Critic takes a different approach. Instead of calling you a “Fat Ass” and “slob,” Mr. Constructive Critic aims to find the root cause of your problem. He asks, “Why do crave unhealthy, fat inducing foods? Are you stressed? What can we do to improve your stress management? If we make these changes, I think you will not only lose weight, but also feel better emotionally, mentally, and physically.” By getting to the root cause and providing optimism, Mr. Constructive Criticism helps you lose 10 lbs. and keep the weight from returning. Thanks Mr. Constructive Critic! Homies for life!