The Right To Appeal
In the previous post, I spoke about the importance of evaluating things in the context and how this can improve our understanding and relationships.
However, you might want to extend the courtesy to yourself, when it comes to evaluating your performance, qualities, skills and value (-or lack thereof).
Because this can make the difference between being terrorised by your inner critic and using it as a tool for improvement.
When the nagging inner voice criticizes you, reminds you of past mistakes, failures or mishaps, it is usually drawing a conclusion based on some event(s). This conclusion is rarely a fact, many times is an opinion, and often, a generalization.
A lot of times the information about that event is omitted from the conclusion, so the conclusion appears to be an established fact, rather than an opinion. Since a fact seems to be absolutely true, it might look as if nothing can be done about it.
For instance, when your inner voice says “You’re (I’m) stupid,” or “You’re (I’m) a failure”, this is not a fact, but an opinion. It’s easy to conclude that this applies to everything you do, all time, everywhere, extending inexorably into your future. If you really are stupid or a failure in all contexts, then there is probably nothing you can do about it. It’s natural then to feel discouraged, depressed or even suicidal.
The event you based this conclusion on might even have only happened once, like missing a test in a class or failing to do complete a process correctly at a new job. Maybe you didn’t have time to prepare; maybe nobody explained to you how things work; you were sick, tired or other reason for doing poorly.
Not only this has nothing to do with being stupid or a failure, but it could have been something completely out of your control. You can thus discover that the conclusion is inappropriate.
Even when a specific event is mentioned, that still brings up only a small part of what happened. It may be useful to ask yourself:
- what was happening?
- what were ALL the things you said and done?
- how did you feel at the time?
- what did you believe when you acted that way?
- what was important for you at the moment?
- who else was there?
- what was the broader context?
When you review all the information about an event, all of that adds to your understanding. And more information allows you to have a more balanced response.
In mass media, when something is quoted out of context, the effects of the misrepresentation can linger even after the audience is presented with the original quote.
When you apply a judgmental label to yourself it also tends to stick.
It’s like applying the “guilty” sentence without a proper trial and without the right to appeal.
It’s not fair in the practice of law, and it’s certainly not fair when it comes to running your life.
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