6 Signs You Are WAY Too Self-Critical
As life would have it, as I'm starting this piece, Kelis' music video for "Bossy" is playing on the tube. Something that I've always liked about Kelis, as an artist, is she's gonna do whatever she wants to do. We don't have to get it, so long as she does. If we like it, that's merely a bonus. Yeah, Kelis would be the opposite of the kinds of folks we're gonna talk about today. She appears to be very anti-self-critical. And that's beautiful.
I recently read two articles about why so many of us are so critical of ourselves (if you want to check them out, go here and then here). The therapists who were interviewed touched on things like us fearing complacency and also us choosing to engage in tons of negative self-talk. I think that another reason has to do with our childhood. Boy, if there's ever a time when my blood boils, it's when a parent is snatching up a young child and/or worse, cussing at them. Children's minds, hearts and souls are so fragile; they must be handled with extreme care. If that doesn't happen, if the very individuals who should be nurturing their spirits are constantly breaking them, a self-critical individual is exactly what they will turn out to be.
Some of us once were those children and, unfortunately, we are so used to treating ourselves with a lack of patience, forgiveness and self-compassion, that we don't even realize how self-critical we actually are. If you're wondering if this is something that you struggle with, perhaps more than you think, here are six blaring signs that should not be ignored.
You Find a Way to Tear Down Every ComplimentGiphy
There's someone I used to be close to who was pretty difficult to be around. A part of the reason was because I could never tell if her responses to compliments were a passive-aggressive way to get more or if she was a bona fide Olympian when it came to tearing affirmations down. I mean, no matter what I said to her, she found a way to knock it. For every time I said, "You look pretty today", she would respond with, "Maybe if I lost some weight." I'd give you some other examples, but I'm already worn out, just by reminiscing over all of that toxicity.
I get that sometimes it can be challenging to receive compliments or praise because you are so focused on improving the being that you already are. But if you don't know how to simply say "thank you" when someone commends you, or there is a part of you that doesn't believe them, something is very imbalanced when it comes to your self-esteem. Yes, there is something to be said for growth, but there is also something to be said for being proud of the person you are and appreciating when other people recognize the goodness that is already in/on you.
You Are Sorry for Things That You Shouldn’t Be
I've got a girlfriend who is mad humble. But, as a wise person once said, even the excess of a virtue can be a vice, at times. In her case, she has a tendency to apologize for things that she didn't do wrong or aren't her fault. If I call her, she's busy and has to call me back, she'll say, "I'm sorry. I was doing such-and-such." Is that something to be sorry for? Or when her husband completely shows his tail (if you've got a friend with a difficult spouse, I wrote about how I handle it here), she apologizes on his behalf (I get that married folks are "one" and all but he needs to take ownership for his own actions).
She apologizes so much that I finally brought it to her attention by saying, "Do you know that you say 'I'm sorry' for things that you don't even do wrong?" After responding with yep and, you guessed it, "I'm sorry" (LOL), she then said that she thinks it's because she struggles with people-pleasing a lot. Whenever someone is unhappy or even inconvenienced, she somehow believes that she has something to do with it. When I encouraged her to go deeper into where that stems from, she said that she had a babysitter from hell who used to berate and beat her and the other kids that she watched. My friend never told her parents; she just internalized it. She said "I'm sorry" a lot then to keep the peace and she does it a lot now for the same reason (self-awareness is a miracle cure, for real, for real!).
This example is a kinda cryptic form of being self-critical, but it is one nonetheless. It's also a reminder that we must handle all children with extreme care because they grow up to be adults; sometimes with the same wounds that they had from their childhood. Including being way too hard on themselves.
You Hold Yourself to Unrealistic Standards
Along the same lines of what we just discussed, another indication that you are too self-critical is the standards that you have for yourself are super unrealistic. You are a perfectionist. You don't forgive yourself when you make mistakes. You set way too many goals in a short frame of time. You see where I'm going with this, right? The problem with this is, because we all are flawed, we all sometimes make poor decisions and we all have moments of feeling totally overwhelmed, if you don't accept this fact about your own humanity, you're constantly going to feel like you are a disappointment, if not a flat-out failure.
Cut yourself some slack on the front end by aiming to do your best, but also predetermining that when you do mess up, you can let yourself off of the hook. Doing so is not letting yourself slide. It's actually an act of self-love.
You Don’t Ask for Help
Anyone who thinks that they don't need help is someone who not only has an ego problem (whether they realize it, like it or not), they also are setting themselves up for failure. If God wanted us to live without the assistance and support of others, we wouldn't have family members and friends. We wouldn't co-exist around other human beings on a daily basis either.
How does not asking for help equate to being too self-critical? Because a lot of people are this way because don't want to come off as appearing weak or needy. Or, they want to show others that they don't need anyone but themselves.
Being this type of person is typically a sign of also having some pretty serious trust issues. But here's the thing—if you constantly attempt things that would be easier for you to do if you had some back-up, then they may take a lot longer or not turn out as well as they could have. As a result, you become even more self-critical. Ugh. Doubly so.
You Are Never Ever Satisfied. Especially with Yourself.
Not too long ago, I was checking out the IG page for this site. Under a post that featured, well, go here and you can see it yourself, I appreciated what a male commenter said—"The Education us Men get following this page. I'm here for it." I took a sec to check out what the poster, @prewilliams has going on and he had a post that was so appropriate for this article—"You're over here doubting yourself while so many people are intimidated by your potential."
There's nothing wrong with being driven and ambitious. There's nothing wrong with wanting to become better on a daily basis. There's nothing wrong with going above and beyond what seems attainable. But a part of what comes with being a healthy and balanced individual is also being at peace with what you've already accomplished and just how far you've already come.
Stress, anxiety and frustration oftentimes arise out of not knowing how to be satisfied with oneself and/or how to stay in the moment. Life is too short to not know how to just be sometimes.
You’re Way Too Quiet
Some of y'all might remember the episode of A Different World when Tisha Campbell played a student who had HIV. Her professor was played by Whoopi Goldberg and the assignment that she gave the class to write their own obituary (a clip of the episode is right here). Something that Whoopi's character said, more than once, that has remained with me all this time is, "You are a voice in this world."
It's one thing to use timing and tact in delivering a message. It's another matter entirely when you have a desire to speak, but you don't, because you're worried about how people will react or respond. Your insight, your perspectives and your experiences are just as valid as anyone else's. Don't let your critical nature try and convince you otherwise.
A very wise person once said, "It's better to speak your mind and tell the truth, than to stay quiet and lie to yourself." If after reading this, you know that you are way too self-critical, start making some changes today by speaking up more, always remembering, that yes—YOU ARE A VOICE IN THIS WORLD. A voice that deserves to be heard, received and respected. With as little criticism from you as possible.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Ari Lennox Says She Wouldn't Hesitate To Leave Her Career Behind For Love
Imagine having the worst luck in love. Dating all the worst men but also being superbly desired in the process. Having to tell your truths, like how you became famous because you decided to focus on your talent after an old boyfriend left. Imagine putting all the hurt in your music through songs titled "Broke," "Waste My Time," or "Blocking You."
And imagine still being willing to trade everything you've worked hard for, for love. That's a hopeless romantic. More specifically, Ari Lennox.
Our fave hasn't had the best journey of finding her person, and she still wholly believes that it will happen for her.
On the heels of the release of her fourth album, Courtney Shanade Salter, known professionally as Ari Lennox, is entering her self-proclaimed 'Eat, Pray, Love season.' For context, she stopped by the R&B Money Podcast with hosts Tank and his business partner, multi-platinum songwriter, and executive J. Valentine, for almost two hours of raw conversation. And of all of the gems she dropped or the experiences she's had over time in her short time as a household name, it was the conversation surrounding her love life that drew me in most.
After Tank asked her if she always knew she would be famous, she responded, "Never. I just always just kept doing it, and I was ready to leave it all for this man, but he went to the military, and so I was forced to kinda like focus on my dreams. But really, I always want to leave this for love and start a family. I don't want to keep doing this." As the co-hosts digested what was said, she continued, "I don't want to give that much energy to this man or dream man, but it's like, I want a family. I feel like that's true life or true love. To have a family is beautiful, it seems, so I want that."
Lennox was last tied to a "mystery man" that it didn't take long for fans to figure out was Married At First Sight star Keith Manley II after sharing photos on IG. The duo split after a month of dating.
She is now prioritizing therapy and crediting her progress to going to help her navigate love to her breakthroughs on the couch. And despite being open about her dating life, even speaking with Huffington Post last year about how finding a significant other hasn't been the easiest journey for her, she is appreciating the tools she's gained to make that progress to having her family.
"[I'm] in a space where I've ignored the red flags too much for the last time, and now I'm so hyper-aware. And it's been a blessing to say, 'You know what? This is not right. This doesn't feel right. It's time to move on,'" she explained. "So it's cool learning about myself, learning my flaws, becoming more self-aware, and just realizing there's a lot of healing I need to do before I can even consider being in a situation with someone."
Self-love attracts love, ladies.
Watch the full podcast episode below:
Ari Lennox • R&B MONEY Podcast • Episode 024
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Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET