Note:Kayla Dugger has hosted business therapy sessions for Charlotte-based companies and cofounded Hygge Coworking. Want to participate? Send your career situation to firstname.lastname@example.org or just write a completely anonymous note in our feedback form. Either way, you’ll remain anonymous.
Dear Career Coach,
Something I’ve been thinking about recently is critical self talk.
It’s so easy to be hyper critical of ourselves during work and as a woman that has a side company.
I feel like I am constantly critical of myself and it comes across in the way that I interface with other people – being self deprecating. How can I take control of my power?
You suck sometimes. You have to learn to be okay with that.
What I like about your question is you said, “…take control of my power,” implying that it’s already in you. Which I happen to agree with.
In order to take control of your power, you need to reframe how you view your self-criticism.
We live in an Instagrammed world that tells us our self-criticism is an abusive relationship— so we just need to get rid of it. A world that is full of adult coloring books, lavender bath bombs and “yaaaaas, queen.”
It’s almost like our culture is telling people, “You showed up. That’s enough. Don’t think one bad thing or you’ll spoil your dinner.” It’s the adult version of a participation trophy.
I’m all for learning how to love yourself—it’s important. But, sometimes I feel like we’re teaching people if you don’t completely eliminate self-doubt it means you’re damaged goods. When the reality is there is no escaping it.
Because, if you are going to be a human in the world you will continue to do sucky things that warrant self-critique. I want you to learn how to be comfortable with your self-criticism and do it soon.
All of this to say, it can be abusive if you let it. It’ll tell you to set up shop in, “I’m-the-worst-ville,” but you’re smarter than your trash talk.
I have reread your question upwards of forty times. I have started and stopped this article more than I can count. I called myself an idiot. Said it’s not good enough. That it won’t get done. I owe that to you.
I have to be honest with myself that sometimes my writing sucks. Sometimes I give bad advice. I owe it to you to push myself. I owe it you to start and stop. It’s uncomfortable but it helps the work get better.
I’ve learned that a strong shot of self-criticism can humble the hell out of you.
Teach this to yourself, because if you’re going to continue to grow – which you will have to do as a business owner – you will have to be a beginner over and over again. And, beginners suck—that’s the whole point.
The last thing that I want you to know is, there is a stadium full of people who wish they could be more like you. There are people who are intimidated by you—people who look up to you. They admire your hard work and self-awareness. They are the people that you interact with everyday.
Without realizing it, you’ve made room for them. Somewhere along the line your self-deprecation has made someone feel better about themselves. Self-deprecation can be used to show others that there are successful people who are big dorks, that get it wrong—just like them.
Stop beating yourself up about beating yourself up.
No amount of bubble baths will shield you from negativity and self-doubt. The good news is, you already possess the power to reframe it—to make it work in your favor.
Invite those thoughts in, let them say, “You can do better,” thank them and then send them on their way.
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