Context: This is a series where I dive into nuggets of wisdom that Habit Gym participants self-discover through the program.
This week, we’re featuring Greg’s check-in.
What obstacles did I face?
“Last week did a number on me. I think I got tired of being so critical of myself about everything all the time. My patterns are pretty much the same always: feel overwhelmed and block the world out.”
Though this wasn’t a fun experience for them, it was a necessary one. It led to a crucial realization: being overly critical isn’t healthy.
If anything, it’s counterproductive to your progress.
Brutal honesty vs harsh criticism
Don’t get me wrong. In order to grow, you still need to be brutally honest with yourself; just don’t be overly critical.
It’s a fine line. There’s a subtle difference between the two. Honesty is accepting the situation for what it is. Being critical is beating yourself up over it.
If self-criticism is a liability, honesty is an asset. The former holds you back; the latter reveals the path forward. It sheds light on the problem, a necessary step before you can arrive at a solution.
In other words, you can’t fix what you don’t know.
Don’t take it personally
So, how do you strike that delicate balance? By reframing your attitude towards failure - it’s simply a data point, not a reflection on your identity. It doesn’t define you.
When you take it personally, it cripples you. It affects how you see yourself. You assume that you are a failure instead of just a person who failed. “I’m not capable of anything.”
As Greg observed, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You lose belief in yourself and stop trying. As a result, you don’t make progress and you get even more demotivated. It’s a vicious cycle with no end.
But when you see your failure objectively, it’s empowering. You see it as merely a problem to be solved. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not a reflection on your identity, but a valuable data point that you can act on.
This mindset shift results in a healthier internal monologue. Instead of thinking “I’m not capable”, you ask yourself “it sucks that I failed, but how can I fix it?”. You understand that you can’t change the past, but you do have the agency to write the future.
Why is this attitude so important? Because setbacks are inevitable. Everyone faces them.
Since you can’t avoid failure, you need to learn how to embrace it. This is what separates the people that succeed from the rest - their approach.
They don’t take it personally. They don’t get overwhelmed and retreat to their bubble. They know that only leads to a vicious cycle.
Instead, they boldly confront the truth. They look themselves in the eye and admit their mistake - not to punish themselves or assign blame, but to ask how they can do better next time. They know the only way out is through.
It’s never too late
If you’re reading this and are disappointed that you don’t have these qualities, you missed the point.
Your past doesn’t define you. Sure, you can’t get back that lost time, but you do have control over how you react now. It’s never too late.
So, use this as a learning opportunity. It’s a blessing in disguise. Now that you’re finally aware of the problem, you can solve it.
Again: you can’t fix what you don’t know.
Note: Want to experience this for yourself? Check out Habit Gym.
This post took redacted minutes to write.
P.S: You can find more of my thoughts on Twitter @_suketk.