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.
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and check out the related reads below:
Featured Image by Unsplash.
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- 5 Signs You're Too Self-Critical — Aniesa Hanson Counseling ... ›
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- Signs you're being too hard on yourself - INSIDER ›
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- 20 Signs You Are Too Self-Critical | Psychology Today ›
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Keke Palmer and Casandra “Cassie” Ventura are two of the most recent prominent Black women who have spoken out about their current and past abuse by intimate partners. These conversations seem to be happening more frequently today, but the truth is domestic violence and sexual abuse of Black women within the Black community is not new.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 45.1 percent of Black women will experience physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, in contrast to 30.2 percent of their white counterparts who experience similar abuse. Additionally, the Black Women’s Health Project also found Black women are three times more likely to be killed by a partner than white women.
As a result of these findings, it determined that domestic violence is the number one health issue facing Black women today.
Despite these stark statistics the prevalent misogynoir Black women face within their community further reinforce the stigma , victim-blaming , and culture of silence that prevent Black women from seeking help when experiencing abuse. Both Palmer and Ventura are examples of how Black women suffer in silence for years at the hands of an abusive partner. In Palmer’s court filings , she alleged Darius Jackson, her son’s father, abused her in multiple instances over two years. Yet, not until recently did she seek help from the courts to obtain a restraining order and sole custody of her son.
Likewise, Ventura’s lawsuit highlighted over a decade’s worth of alleged domestic violence , sexual abuse , and sex trafficking . Though Ventura and Sean Combs’ relationship ended in 2018, she shared the importance of speaking out now instead of remaining silent. “After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships,” she shared in a statement .
Though many prominent Black women such as Rihanna, Tina Turner, Kelly Rowland, and Megan Thee Stallion have spoken out about their experiences with domestic violence , there is still a great stigma regarding the issue in the Black community.
This stigma and lack of protection for Black women manifests through people questioning the validity of Black women’s claims, which we saw on full display in the case against Tory Lanez on behalf of Megan.
We still see it in the way people make tasteless jokes about the late Tina Turner’s abuse from Ike Turner; and even in how people questioned “what Rihanna did” to Chris Brown for him to hurt her in such a way. Actions and behaviors such as these lead to the staggering reality that 91 percent of Black women are killed by someone they knew according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois Chicago.
This study also highlighted the fact that the leading cause of death for Black women between the ages of 15 and 45 is murder by an intimate partner.
As someone who has experienced physical violence in an intimate relationship, I can attest to the anxiety and doubt I felt in sharing my truth with others. Even though there was physical proof to corroborate my claims, all I could think of were the words my mother said when the news of Rihanna and Chris Brown came out, “She did something to that boy for him to do that to her.”
I share this story because even though the celebrities we see going through these experiences may never hear the conversations we have behind closed doors, there are women in our lives who are experiencing the same things and won’t speak up because of what we say.
I still remember the feeling of self-blame in my relationship with physical proof of abuse appearing on my body and the mindset that if I were only somehow a better partner and more “submissive” in my relationship these things wouldn’t continue to happen.
However, what I and all other abuse survivors know is that there is nothing you can do to appease your abuser, and the only true way to end the abuse is to leave the relationship in the safest manner possible.
Yet, what many abuse survivors also know is leaving is one of the most difficult challenges in an abusive relationship . On average it takes victims of abuse seven attempts to leave their abuser and stay separated for good according to RESPOND Inc. , New England’s first domestic violence agency. Though physical and sexual abuse are often discussed the most in conversations of domestic violence and abuse we need to acknowledge that it often begins with mental and emotional gaslighting and manipulation .
According to the (NCADV) 53.8 percent of Black women will experience psychological aggression by a partner in their lifetimes. In Kelly Rowland’s 2013 song "Dirty Laundry," she showcases how psychological abuse appears in relationships with lyrics, “he said, ‘Don't nobody love you but me Not your mama, not your daddy and especially not Bey.’”
As Black women continue to speak out about their violence and challenge their abusers, it is also important for the Black community to create a safe space for them to do so. If a friend or family member confides in you about experiencing abuse be supportive and listen, avoid casting blame on them, and most importantly ask them what they want to do in terms of the next steps or leaving the relationship .
Lastly, if you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner abuse and wants help reach out to National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for support and resources.
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