The Post-Game Analysis: How to Be Kind to Yourself and Keep Growing

Growing and developing our social skills as we strive to relate to others is made all the more difficult by our own self-criticism. End the reflection brutality with these four strategies.

If you’re like most people, you can be pretty harshly critical of yourself — especially in social situations. If you read enough personal development and self-improvement books, it can be even easier to start focusing solely on the things about you that aren’t up to snuff.

Sure, reflecting on your weaknesses and focusing on areas you could improve will help you grow and excel. Like they say — the unexamined life is hardly worth living, right? But ruthless self-evaluation is more likely to stunt your growth than help you succeed, so it’s pretty important to effectively analyze your progress without being too hard on yourself.

Luckily, we’ve got a few pointers to improve the post-game analysis of your social skills. Regardless of what setting brought you outside your comfort zone, these tips are sure to help you maximize your self-assessments by keeping you honest while encouraging and accelerating your personal development. End the reflection brutality with the following four strategies:

1. Acknowledge Your Thoughts and Feelings

Obviously you’re not going to get much better at being nice to yourself if you don’t learn to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, so learn to listen to the way you talk to yourself and the way you make yourself feel. Don’t discount your feelings or run from them. When you understand how you feel and where your anxiety comes from, it can be really empowering. We can be quick to try to “cure” or remove anxiety from our lives, but oftentimes that looks like removing ourselves from anxiety-inducing situations entirely. When you learn to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, you will also learn to manage your anxieties and empower yourself.

If you’re participating in the Art of Charm 30-Day Challenge, you might have experienced some anxiety doing Challenge #2. Just read through the Facebook group page for the Challenge — you’ll find plenty of people introducing their video by admitting it took multiple takes to complete and even that they delayed the project for days or weeks. Putting yourself out there publicly, especially on video, is a challenge. But it’s one that adds an additional level of accountability to help us improve.

Action Step: Keep a journal. Write about your thoughts, feelings, and struggles. This will allow your thoughts and feelings to come out more freely, so you can account for them and notice personal improvements along the way.

2. Pay Attention to the Small Victories

There will be a lot of them along the way, of course, but actually taking the time to notice them inspires you to take further action. We’re programmed to look for dramatic, explosive victories — those happen, too, but they come after a longer period of time. When you’re just starting on a journey of personal development, you want to pay attention to the smaller victories along the way. It’s really easy to identify and obsess over the negative, so be sure you keep that tendency in check by celebrating even the smallest wins.

Action Step: Reflect on the thoughts and feelings you had before you started working on celebrating the small stuff — then think about where you are now. What’s the difference? What made you feel frustrated or defeated then versus now? Notice the small steps you’ve taken toward a larger victory.

3. Set Attainable Goals

A lot of people are quick to set lofty, long-term goals, but then forget to set up intermediate goals that lay the foundation for reaching the bigger dream. When it comes to growing socially, most of us picture some version of ourselves running the room, everyone flocking to them and hanging on their every word.The good news is that there will be nights when that happens…the bad news is that it’s not the reality of what happens every time you go out, even for seasoned social pros.

If last week it was difficult to even get yourself out of the house, then this week’s goal should be to introduce yourself to two or three people — and that’s a win when you do it. You might set a big, hairy, audacious goal, but there are intermediate steps you should be taking to make it less intimidating. Those little steps are also goals, and you can work toward them and reach them in a measureable amount of time. This is a way better strategy than setting some nebulous goal.

Action Step: Write your social growth goals — the big ones, the little ones, and some that are in-between. Check them off and celebrate as you accomplish them.

4. Find an Accountability Partner

Life’s sweeter when you’ve got someone there to support you on the journey. That’s a great thing about the Challenge — you’ve got about 10,000 built-in supporters. When you get to Challenge #3, you’ll find people — complete strangers — supporting you, checking in on you, and holding you accountable.

In your everyday life, there are undoubtedly people who’d be happy to tackle challenges with you as well. Hanging out, working out, going out together, accounting for progress, noticing and celebrating victories with you…it’s not just valuable feedback, it’s making things a lot more fun. Sometimes another person notices the small victories we gloss right over ourselves. An accountability buddy should push you in moments when you feel weak or like quitting. When you’re both working toward a goal, you’ll push yourself that much harder to make sure you’re not letting your friend down — or that you’re winning, if you’re more the competitive type!

We see this all the time in our immersion weeks, as participants make friends. It takes some vulnerability to let your guard down and show someone else where you’re working to improve your life. But when you’ve got solid, like-minded people around you, being vulnerable is easy — and hugely beneficial.

Action Step: Use the buddy system. Find a friend who’s eager to grow with you. You may even want to consider paying for a coach — whether it’s a personal trainer, someone to help with your golf game, or a mentor who can help you grow as a person — working with a coach can help you grow even faster.

A little light in the close friend department? If you’d like to attract more positive people into your life, the first step is to make sure you are living in a way that makes you attractive to that kind of person. Understand the difference between high-value and low-value behaviors, and begin cutting low-value behaviors out of your life. As you do this, you’ll naturally attract more people into your life. Then it becomes a matter of filtering so that you end up with a circle of friends who are all striving to become high-value people alongside you. Remember, you get to decide how much time you spend with the people in your circle and who’s going to influence you most.

Pro Tip: What if you catch yourself slipping up?

Own it! Call it out rather than taking yourself out of the game entirely and getting stuck in the feedback loop from Hell. Maybe you weren’t on point — it happens to the best of us! But if you try to hide your anxiety after it’s totally derailed you, the other person might walk away from the conversation thinking you were rude, mean, or just not interested in them — the opposite of the vibe you’d like to create. You can course-correct right there in the moment. Just come clean and share that you got lost for a moment. Be honest and admit that you’re feeling anxious. Odds are good that they were feeling the same way, and now you’ve turned it around. Instead of looking like a jerk, you’ve just endeared yourself to the other person and probably even created space for them to feel more comfortable, too.

Growth never happens as quickly as we’d like…but it never takes as long as we think it will, either. That’s another reason to write your thoughts and feelings down and to notice your progress. Give yourself a little compliment sandwich: take note of what you did well, reflect on the things you can improve next time, and then celebrate the small victories in big ways with your supporters.

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