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How To Prevent Criticism From Programming You With Self-Doubt

Have you ever been criticised?
And found this criticism has influenced your later actions?
Even though you didn't think those actions were the right ones to do?

My uncle Tom was the owner of a butcher business that was performing well, in fact better than most other businesses in town. He liked to run it as an old-fashioned style butchers. He did it this way for two reasons:

  1. Appeal To An Older Demographic: An old-fashioned style butchers would appeal to the older people in the town who missed the old style of butchers and the way they used look and operate.
  2. Unique Selling Point To The General Public: An old-style butchers would provide a unique selling point that would stand out amongst the other butchers in town and give him a unique selling point the other ones didn't have. 

One day a friend of his told him, “I don’t think your old fashioned style of butchers is working that well. You should change it.” With his business succeeding, my uncle didn’t acknowledge his friend’s criticism and completely ignored it. Then another friend gave him the same advice about changing the old-fashioned style of the shop. Again, Tom brushed this advice off too.

In 2011, Toms business ran into some serious trouble with the recession and he was facing the prospect of going bankrupt. Suddenly, along with his rising self doubt my uncle remembered all the criticism he had brushed off and began to question whether he had been right. He thought maybe he had better change his style.

Fortunately, Toms butcher shop weathered the crisis and it once again began to prosper before he had made any drastic changes. With his confidence restored, once again Tom brushed away the previous advice to change how he ran his business.

So here's the question I now want to ask you...

Why did my uncle only take his friend’s criticism to heart when he was full of doubt? And what caused him to confidently see past their criticism when he was successful again?

Here's why...

The subconscious mind attracts whatever it is focused on. If the mind is anxious about failure and consumed by thoughts of failing ...then you will find yourself remembering every comment or experience related to failure. Self doubt causes the mind to focus on all the negative comments and experiences that confirm these doubts. The mind attracts thoughts and feelings that confirm what it is already focused on.

In other words, the mind works like a magnet. Whatever it is thinking about at any given moment - it attracts corresponding thoughts and ideas which re-inforce what it is already thinking about. Overcoming self doubt can only be achieved when you understand this key point.

Yes! This happens to me! What should I do?

If you find this type of negative thought spiral happening to you - don’t panic! Instead, acknowledge the thoughts and feelings you have but don’t place too much weight or value on them. Simply let them float away rather than add to your negative burden.

If you have been having success and suddenly find yourself in a difficult position don’t let your default reaction be to question yourself and drag up a host of negative thoughts. Look for other explanations for your problems and avoid pinning the blame on yourself or remembering negative comments and experiences you’ve had.

Remember the power of focusing on positive outcomes. If you focus on criticism and negative comments you will inevitably stay in a negative cycle that only attracts more negativity. However, if you focus on your positive abilities and the support you’ve received you will attract more support and positive feedback.

Express This Positivity Outwards

Knowing the difference between positive and negative thinking patterns like this is important. You can use it as a tool to decide who you should and shouldn't hang around with ...if you want to maintain a positive outlook.

Build a network of people who believe in you and support your ideas and efforts ...and ditch the people and frenemies who only drag you down. 

But it doesn't stop there. You should make it a life habit to spread positive and self affirming ideas to all those around you ...even those who seem uninterested or unrelated to your goals. Each comment will act like a seed that one day will blossom into support when you are facing a challenge or great opportunity. Suddenly in this situation they will recall your words and actions and they will support you and believe in you.