…by Prill Boyle

Most of us are our own worst critics. Why is that?

I started thinking about this a few years ago when a friend confided to me that he didn\’t think he was particularly successful This man is a partner at a large law firm and on the board of several civic and professional organizations. He\’s constantly sharing his expertise with colleagues and lending others a hand. I don\’t know what benchmark he\’s measuring himself against, but if he\’s not successful, who is?

Another friend is the CEO of a technology company. He\’s confident in the business realm, yet considers himself a failure as a family man. I wish he could see what I see, which is that until his wife divorced him, he was trying to be a good husband-not an easy undertaking when one\’s job requires constant travel. He\’s also an involved and caring father.

Countless women I\’ve met rank even lower on the self-esteem scale. As a matter of fact, letters from my readers indicate that lack of confidence in one\’s own worth and abilities is the hurdle women struggle most to overcome.

If only we could see ourselves the way our dearest friends see us, we might be kinder in our self-judgment…and perhaps kinder to others. Keeping this in mind, here\’s a suggestion:

For one day, replace criticism of yourself with the same compassion you extend toward those you love most.

I know it\’s a tall order. From adolescence on, we grow up believing that others are scrutinizing our every word and action, even though they\’re often too consumed with their own lives to worry much about ours. Then because we think they\’re judging us, and because they think we\’re judging them – and, of course, we do judge each other to a certain degree — everyone becomes self-conscious. (Self-consciousness, mind you, is not the same as self-awareness. The former holds us back; the latter propels us forward.)

But if we can break the cycle of judgment – of ourselves and others – we might just find that we\’re already the beautiful beings we\’ve always wanted to become.

And in that knowledge, we can truly take flight.

Prill Boyle is the author of Defying Gravity: A Celebration of Late-Blooming Women (Emmis Books, 2004). To learn more, go to www.prillboyle.com or visit Prill\’s blog at http://defyinggravitynow.blogspot.com.