Barbara Sher On Criticism: This Might Help You Get Why You Feel So Inadequate
Understanding our feelings of inadequacy might very well help to dispel them next time they come knocking
Barbara Sher offers some priceless insight into why we might feel so inadequate, regardless of evidence to the contrary.
Marrying together three areas - criticism, inadequacy and perfectionism - Sher explains how they come together to create a perfect storm that can be difficult to get out of.
When it comes to criticism, Sher signs up to the old saying, "if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all".
Why? Well you might actually be wrong, for starters. But vitally, on a psychological level, she says, the criticisms (particularly if they are plenty) will do far more than just sting the recipient.
It will leave them feeling rejected, wounded and distrustful, and, Sher says, "they will remember the hurt", no matter how many compliments follow.
How Criticism Leads To Perfectionism
If the criticism happens in childhood (particularly if it is chronic), the deeper the issues take root. At an early stage, we can get hooked into feeling inadequate and easily triggered later in life.
One of the ways we can try and compensate for this is by being perfect, which even then, says Sher, is never good enough, either.
Perfection becomes a necessity as opposed to an achievement, as she explains in the video below:
"Being perfect is simply a "C", it's simple an average for you. You get no satisfaction out of being perfect. You're just out of danger's way, temporarily."
This feeling of never being good enough makes it impossible to get the feeling of getting an "A+", despite these high standards, she explains, and god forbid we get less than that:
"The slightest flaw [means] all is lost".
Simply understanding how these three factors link together - criticism in childhood, feeling inadequate and the need to be perfect - can be cathartic enough in itself.
But next time you need a reminder, it is worth watching this short clip.
It is a great way to recognize why you feel the way you do - and snap out of any kind of spiral those feelings of inadequacy can bring on.
Barry Schwartz On Satisficing: When "Good Enough" Is Better Than "The Best"
It's not giving up and it's not settling for second best. Why learning the art of being "satisficed" is key to decision-making & happiness
Can "good enough" really ever be good enough? Your answer to that question will determine which of the following two categories you typically fall under: Maximiser or Satisficer (and yes, it is spelt that way).
According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, a Maximiser wants the absolute best of everything. It has to be perfect, nothing less will do and all options must be exhausted before the holy-grail-of-whatever is finally found.
While this might seem admirable - and in certain situations, it is - a Satisficer is often the one who actually wins out in the end, according to research.
Satisficers Vs Maximisers
A Satisficer has a clear idea of what they are looking for but will happily settle for the first option that meets their requirements.
They make their decisions quicker (saving time), maintain higher levels of satisfaction with their choice, have fewer regrets and are less likely to compare themselves to others, leading to higher levels of happiness.
Conversely, Maximisers might ultimately be more successful in life - including financially - but are less grateful for what they have.
The issue is perpetual dissatisfaction, always wondering if there is something better out there that they have not yet discovered. Not surprisingly, people in this category can be prone to depression.
Why We Need Satisficing
Being satisficed with your lot, then, might be something worth considering, at least in the a short term. Getting tangled up in a quandry over every single decision can be frustrating, self-defeating and demoralising.
It can also distract you from other things you can be getting on with and there is a lot of evidence to say you will come up with a "better idea" at a later point, anyway, if you switch off and walk away.
And if that's not enough, practicing satisficing as a technique can be a nice way of confronting any perfectionist tendencies you might be secretly harbouring. So the next time you spend an innordinate amount of time internally anguishing over the ramifications of that decision you just took, then this might be just the thing for you.