If you follow sports, you have seen the fallout from overconfidence. A boxer boldly claims he is going to knock out his opponent in the first round. Only, he is the one who gets knocked out in the first round. Or a basketball player insists his team is a title contender for this season. When even casual fans of the league know that the team is not going to make the playoffs, talk less of being a title contender. If you want to give yourself the best chance at succeeding, it is best to find a balance between hyper self-criticism and overconfidence.
This post is directed at those who often criticize themselves, to the point where they are unable to function without overthinking. Too much self-criticism is a symptom of chronic anxiety, especially social anxiety. People who hyper criticize themselves, often cringe when they encounter others who appear delusional due to overconfidence. On one hand, they envy the shamelessness of these overconfident persons. On the other hand, they dread falling into the trap of overconfidence and making fools of themselves.
A Healthy Balance
The good news is that it is possible to strike a healthy balance between being self-critical and being overconfident. It is important to note, that by balance I don’t mean you will have to waiver back and forth between the two extremes. I do mean that you can begin practicing a healthy mindset, without having to be hypercritical of yourself or deluding yourself.
To accomplish this, you need to begin practicing an unconditional acceptance of your self with positive regard. This means two things. First, that you accept your flaws and shortcoming without shaming yourself. Secondly, that your accomplishments do not make you more or less deserving of accepting yourself.
Accept Your Flaws without Shame
To accept yourself without shame, imagine how a child should be raised. If you experienced a less than favorable childhood, then I would recommend thinking about a two or three-year-old. The transition from being an infant to being a toddler marks the first signs of independence, from potty training to the child putting away his or her toys. Here is a question, if a child struggles with these milestones should he or she be shamed?
The correct answer is no. Even in the absence of developmental issues where the child is simply being stubborn. The answer is still no. To shame the child would be to communicate a falsehood to the child that he or she is less than. Now, bring this to yourself, should you be shamed for your flaws and shortcoming? The answer again is no.
Regardless of the consequences, you are forced to deal with, regarding your shortcoming, shaming yourself, will not help you with your issues with anxiety. It will also not motivate you towards any type of change.
Unconditional Acceptance with Positive Regard
To accept yourself unconditionally is to regard yourself objectively and positively. You see your flaws as challenges you have been destined to address and overcome. You also see yourself as fundamentally good and lovable, simply because you exist.
Accomplishments Are Not Substitute for Self-Acceptance
Your accomplishments are simply the outcome of the mental and physical efforts you have invested in a task or project. Your accomplishments do not entitle you to any praise, approval or love from anyone or group of people. It is understandable if this is confusing as people who accomplish feats are often praised.
While they are deserving of the praise, people have chosen to give to them, they are not entitled to such attention. For two reasons, first, such praise is not guaranteed and secondly, even when praise is received, it cannot replace the void created by a lack of self-acceptance.
Most people are aware of celebrities in the entertainment industry, whose lives seem to descend into chaos despite having acquired acclaim. This is because these persons haven’t learned to love and accept themselves unconditionally. Further, despite the love and attention they receive from others, they still feel unloved.
Striking the Balance
So, what is this balance between hyper self-criticism and overconfidence? The balance is, from a place of unconditional self-acceptance, you can embrace the possibility of failure without fear. If you can embrace the possibility of failure without fear, you are motivated to invest more effort in facing more challenges in your life.
With such a mindset, when you experience failure, from a place of humility you learn the lessons you need to learn and move on. Also, when you experience success, from a place of gratitude you learn the lessons you need to learn and move on.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions a counseling and life coaching practice in Tucson, Arizona. Ugo helps individuals and families in office and online. If you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call and book an appointment or fill out my contact form and click Send.