The Release From Criticism

If you’ve grown up in America then you’ve been privy to how critical and judgmental the world can be over the most miniscule of things. If you’re black and have grown up in America, you know just how much more intense it is being raised within a black family. We’re taught from the time we are able to comprehend that we have to be the best of the best, we have to always give and go the extra mile to be recognized and respected, and that we have to “look the part,” no matter what. Looking the part most times means hiding our insecurities, faking it until we were making it, putting on our corporate voices, and making sure that we cross all our t’s and dot all of our i’s.

Because this is so common, most people don’t realize how adapting to these types of mindsets and beliefs cultivate extreme anxiety in our culture. Statistics show, “When African American and Caribbean Black respondents met criteria for anxiety disorder, they experienced higher levels of overall mental illness severity and functional impairment compared to whites.” This means that while whites have a higher diagnosis rate, we experience the most damaging outcomes because 1. Whites are conditioned to embrace and engage in therapy from a small age, so they treat themselves in a healthy manner and 2. Mental illness, anxiety, and therapy have been taboo within the black community for so long, it goes untreated, and we’re left to deal and heal in the most maladaptive of ways. So what does this mean for us millennials? We’ve got a lot of unlearning and re-conditioning to do if we want to 1. Experience our true healthy, highest selves, and 2. Give our babies forerunning the next generation a chance!

One of the first steps is releasing the need to criticize and be overly critical of one’s self.

If you’re a chronic criticizer you may find that from the moment you wake up you’re immediately thinking about what you can do to make the day flow perfectly. You may ruminate on the mistakes you felt you made previous day, and formulate an entire plan to eliminate it from every happening again. You may feel like the more you “mess up,” the less and less you have a chance of success, or believe that you’re even worthy of it. Moreover, you may spend a lot of time trying to figure out where you went wrong, and how it’s your fault things aren’t the way you pictured them. These types of negative ruminations and limited thought beliefs are a sure path to self-destruction, and an even more sure way to manifest the very things you do not want. We must start by eliminating the belief that in order to be deserving of good things, we have to put ourselves in a place of physical endearment and eliminate mistakes and blemishes. Getting it wrong is a part of the learning process, and as long as you’re trying your best, it’s good enough. There is nothing we need to do to be deserving or worthy of anything, except be our true selves. When you’re operating in your true self you naturally align with all that is for you.

Constructive criticism can be good and necessary, but you should not be receiving criticism from just anybody. Below are some ways you can assure you’re not being overly-critical of yourself, others, and to ensure you don’t fall into the trap of accepting criticism from those who are not for you: 

  •       Speak truth over yourself daily: Affirm: “I am a work in progress.” “I am on the path intricately designed for me.” “I am making small necessary steps towards my end goal.” “I am getting better every day.” “Things are ALWAYS working out for me.”
  •       Limit constructive criticism to you support system: those who champion you, have your best interest at heart, and inspire you to do better, are the only ones who should be giving you any type of criticism that you take to heart. Your life path and journey may lead you to places where others feel the need to voice their opinion but the only ones to take into consideration are those who are supporting you in building your empire. The only opinion that truly matters, is YOURS.
  •       Trust your first mind: Stop second guessing yourself, your ideas, and inclinations. If you feel the need to start something new or get the inspiration for a new project/relationship, don’t talk yourself out of it by meditating on all the reasons it could go wrong. Focus on the many reasons things could go right, and align with your desires. Rarely will you feel strongly about something that’s not meant to be a part of your divine alignment, so take the pressure off yourself, and let yourself BE.
  •       Adapt the belief that “getting it wrong, is learning it right:” everything can be a learning experience. If you never did anything wrong you wouldn’t need to learn anything at all. It is normal. You are living. You are evolving. Embrace it.
  •       Take things with stride: Nothing is 100% solidified in our lives except death, so approach everything light hearted and in moderation. Be open to change, evolving, and starting over however many times you need to. Being fixated on things causes resistance and you block the natural flow of what is meant for you. What you want, wants you. Remember that.
  •       Be Confident but not possessive: The late Nipsey said it best. “We cannot possess people, we can only experience them.” This holds the same weight for material things and achievements we get so anal about. Be sure of what you’re working for, who you’re working with, and what you deserve, but don’t obsess or hold on too tight. You’ll be sure to lose it.

This is one of many things to unlearn that we’re conditioned to since adolescence. Therapy is recommended if you feel like you can’t stop these negative thought processes, or if you can’t reach a level of some type of satisfaction and goodness about yourself. Engaging in activities that allow you to enjoy nature, and that fuel some type of passion you have can also be a form of therapy. Journaling and/or joining a book club can also help with taking it easier, and being a little gentler with yourself moving forward.

You are delicate. You are to be handled with care. You are not a victim to criticism.

Author: Shawana 

 Shawana Ward of Norfolk, Virginia is an Author and Motivational Speaker/Advocate for Self-Care, Mental Health, and Healing. She loves to spend quality time with loved ones, travel, and connect with other femmpenuers who enjoy empowering, building up, and giving back to their communities. Get acclimated via Instagram: @predominantlylove).  Shawana Ward of Norfolk, Virginia is an Author and Motivational Speaker/Advocate for Self-Care, Mental Health, and Healing. She loves to spend quality time with loved ones, travel, and connect with other femmpenuers who enjoy empowering, building up, and giving back to their communities. Get acclimated via Instagram: @predominantlylove).