This week I am honored to have Amber Beam share her incredibly wise article:
Stop criticism in its tracks with these 7 tips
Over the past three months, I’ve practiced smiling on command, standing in a Wonder Woman power pose to build self-confidence, and decluttering my home to finally understand what valuable really means.
It’s all part of my quest, as a self-help crash test dummy, to find which self-help techniques really work to improve your happiness, health, and connections with others. I scour through thousands of intriguing TED talks to find the inspiration for my experiment, then the fun begins. Every week on my podcast, I recount my experience testing the inspiration.
Sometimes, I see immediate success or a great improvement in my happiness. If so, then I continue to repeat my newfound behavior over and over until it becomes my newfound habit. Like when I started using a tomato timer to improve my focus and productivity. I now have an app and a site bookmarked on my desktop that I use almost daily to skyrocket my productivity, improve the quality of my work, and generally feel like a superhero!
Other times, I find the experiments make me uncomfortable or feel silly and juvenile. That’s when the real personal growth starts! Like my experiment to hold the Wonder Woman power pose in a mirror in a bathroom in my office for two minutes. Imagine the statuesque pose of the DC comic heroine Wonder Woman – hands on your hips, eyes straight ahead, shoulders relaxed that’s what I did. First, I was in a public restroom – eewww. Add to that looking at myself in the mirror for two minutes – 120 seconds. Just me. In a mirror. Staring back at me.
At first, I felt really silly and then I started to feel awkward and then embarrassed. I was letting my body-image-baggage get in the way of testing my experiment. I was on the negative self-talk train bound for nowhere good. You know, the stream of consciousness that starts with “uuggh my hair is so thin, my stomach is too big, what’s happening to my skin, is that a wrinkle…” then concluding with an all-out bawling session in the bathroom stall.
At this moment, a path presents itself – turn left and proceed with criticism or go right and proceed with curiosity. You can continue on your voyage to nowhere good until you self-destruct or you can stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself with kindness and curiosity:
- “Where’d that come from?”
- “That’s interesting, why would you say/think that?”
- “Hmm, that came out of nowhere. What’s really going on here?”
It’s curiosity that’s at the center of my need to better understand the self-help crash test dummy experiments that make me uncomfortable. I found this seven step process helps me navigate crises personal growth moments more successfully (while minimizing tears):
- Acknowledge the discomfort. Simply saying out loud, “that didn’t feel good” starts the shift in perspective. I’m labeling the feeling. I don’t have to react –instead I’m responding.
- Don’t solve for x. Try not to solve the problem or remove the discomfort. Again, acknowledge your feelings without the need to make them go away.
- Try to find the source. Where’s that feeling coming from? DON’T JUDGE. Don’t say it’s bad or silly to feel this way. Merely investigate where the feeling started.
- Understand your beliefs. Ask yourself if the feeling is connected to a limiting belief. Limiting beliefs are ideals that no longer serve you or your current situation. Is the limiting belief contributing to the discomfort? Is the belief manifesting in a way that shames or guilts you?
- Examine the larger context. What’s happening in your personal life? Is this feeling merely a side-effect of something bigger you’re battling? Are you in the middle of a meltdown personal growth moment and its clouding your judgement or influencing your perception of the situation?
- Consult a trusted friend. Tell her about the experience and ask what she thinks might be happening. A good friend knows your strengths and She will be able to provide valuable insight or confirmation of your thoughts.
- It is what it is, right now. This is the current situation. It’s temperamental. This is how it is right now. Tomorrow will be different.
Curiosity and criticism are closely related. It’s unlikely to experience one without the other. If you can respond (instead of react), your journey will be filled with curiosity and personal growth.
Amber Beam is a self-help enthusiast who hosts The Art of Personal Growth podcast. Every week she reviews and tests self-help techniques in real life to find what truly works to improve your health, happiness, and connections with others. She lives and works in Washington DC and loves brunch, sticky notes, and English bulldogs.
Here is an interview I did on Ambers podcast, follow this link to listen to it.