What to do when Criticism Gets your Goat
Hi and Welcome to Issue #022 of Devine Online!
Chances are you’ve been criticised at some point in your life. We all like to think of ourselves as open to positive feedback, don’t we? But what about the not-so-positive stuff? Well the truth is, that stuff can really hurt. So when IS criticism useful, and how do we know when we’re receiving constructive feedback or just bearing the brunt of another person’s emotional baggage?
How do YOU feel about criticism?
Regardless of how you feel about it, it’s always going to be there. Why? Because each and every one of us has our own way of looking at the world. We have out own beliefs, our own convictions and our own subjects that we feel passionate about. To some degree, these elements create the boundaries that we feel safe in. They represent who we are.
So what do you you do when 'who you are' is not acceptable to somebody else? Now, criticism is based on personal interpretation according to personal experience and personal history...so can you see how all of us are vulnerable to having our boundaries crossed? I'll give you an example; There are probably a good number of people out there who come across my website and say ‘what a load of sentimental ‘codswallop’! – and in their eyes it IS! They are simply speaking from their truth, and their reality. Who am I to challenge their reality?
The truth is, I don't like getting caught up in defending my own beliefs, but.... OUCH!! Sometimes it stings. So how DO we move though the hurtful experience of having our own ego-boundaries crossed? Do we seek revenge in the worst possible way? Do we round up each and every person who criticises us and lock them in a dark room without any food until they see our point of view? Hmmmm...tempting....but there has to be a better way.
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Everyone’s Got an Opinion
First and foremost, we need to come to terms with the fact that everybody has their own set of opinions. Personally, I think famous people have the hardest job in the world. One day, the media might be singing the praises of the next big ‘star’, and within weeks they'll publish the most scathing words imaginable about the very same ‘star’; how can they be talking about the same person??
A person with high self esteem is immune to the good or bad opinion of others. Let me explain that clearly; when you truly believe in yourself, then regardless of what anyone else says or writes about you, this does not change the way YOU see yourself. Think about it! This is a really powerful place to be in....when you can understand at a subconscious level that other people’s opinions of you have very little to do with YOU and a lot more to do with THEM, then you can really put things into perspective.
At the end of the day, you can’t please all of the people all of the time – what you can do is live your life to the best of your ability, and in a way that supports your own values. Be aware of allowing other people to make you 'wrong', and don't try to stick a square peg in a round hole. It's important to embrace who you are. Sure, take on board suggestions from others, but don't take it as gospel. It's just an opinion!
Why do people Criticize?
Feedback is based on observation without interpretation. Criticism is much more personal. Why do most people criticize instead of giving a feedback? There might be many reasons, some of which are below:
What are your habits? Did you grow up in a family where there was a lot of criticism? Often families can pass the habit of criticism onto future generations. We’re all guilty of criticizing others; become aware of your own behaviour. Often when we are criticized, we get ‘hooked in’ to trying to defend our position and make the other person wrong. This doesn’t work; at best, it simply produces more competition and encourages ego clashes. At worst, your need to be 'right' may destroy a relationship that is very important to you.
Sometimes you need to put yourself into another person’s shoes, and give them the benefit of the doubt – perhaps they truly believe that they are helping you. Or, this person might be in all sorts of emotional pain and turmoil that you’re not aware of. What seems on the surface to be an arrogant attack can often be a cry for help.
Occasionally, the criticism we receive comes from people who are in pain and have no other way to express it, so being aware of this can help you to avoid getting drawn into 'locking horns' with your critic. If you are receiving criticism instead of feedback, you are probably dealing with someone who needs to be right. In this case, you need to ask yourself some questions: Is it worth it to answer back? Am I going to change the other person by getting hooked into arguing with them?, Why do I get hooked in?, What am I afraid of?
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Some Final Tips
Most of us criticise more than we praise. Yes, that includes YOU! If you’re feeling criticised in any way, perhaps by your partner or your boss, be aware that we’re ALL guilty of judging others at one point or another; so make an effort to see the good in others. Hard when you’re feeling resentful I know, but this really is one of the best ways to move though it.
Criticism, delivered compassionately, can actually be helpful. However, demanding that a person changes to our way of thinking will only compel them to feel worthless and indignant. When you receive criticism, instead of trying to deflect it, you can defuse some of the negative feelings. Here's how:
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So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this issue of Success Express...have a great day!
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