Dealing with criticism

We live in a world of freely shared criticism. Because the barriers are down and almost everybody has the means to criticize almost everybody else– at least it seems that way with social media. Yet I do wonder where all these folks that freely exercise their ability to criticize, get the impression that they have the right to criticize anyone that they take their fancy to.

Are we just plain stupid? I mean, those of us that put ourselves “out there” and go public with our ideas and thoughts and opinions? Opening ourselves up for those critics – getting a hard left swing, while we have our cover down?

I think not.

Although it seems like we, the open ones, are vulnerable, I prefer to see “putting myself out there” and expressing my thoughts (or choice of whatever it is) as a show of my strength and my individuality.

Yes, as we say something or do something that is not in line with general public stance at the moment, we could get verbally beat up. Yet we are also being ourselves, the incredibly valuable individual that we are. (I saw this on a T-Shirt somewhere and love this saying: “If I were you, I think I would rather be me.” How is that for not-so-hidden criticism?)

If I mess something up – then, ok, stuff happens. Nobody’s perfect. Tell me in a way that will help me to make myself better the next time – don’t bump me off my tree stump just so you can stand over me, dwelling on your self-righteousness.

Oh, so you know more than me? Well, you and about a billion or so other people on the planet do, I’m sure. Not in everything though – especially not about me. In my life, I am the Chief Experience Holder. And that means my logic or reasoning is a bit different than yours. I could reach different conclusions, see things differently, feel differently about things than you do. That is just another one of those quirks, about me being me and you being you.

There are all kinds of reasons to criticize. It is the easiest thing in the world to do, to find fault with someone else.

So how can you cope with criticism?

Here are some not-so-good coping options:

The iceberg. Go cold. Stop all communications. Do not look at the critic and do not reply or respond. Ever. Again.

The argumentative type. These are the ones that really get down to defending themselves. Even as far as getting very personally demeaning with the critic.

The justifier. These folks can give you a lot of reasons why they did what they did, said what they said, wore what they wore, or even why they danced a walzer to a fox trot beat.

The ridiculer. Put that critic down! Minimize their intelligence, their research ability, their IQ, their EQ! They are total nincompoops! The school they went to and the music they listen to, the car they drive and the dog they have… it is all so, so “ugh”.

Do you waste a lot of words explaining to someone who doesn’t care why you did what you did, or what you do what you do (if they even bother to listen)?

Or do you “roll with the punches”and put on your shiny armor and fake smile and at the next best opportunity slip away to cry in the bathroom?

When criticized, what is your go-to coping mechanism to manage your feelings about the criticism? How do you manage your relationship with the criticizer?

Here come my favorite coping options – and believe me when I say that I have learned these hard way:

Ask – always stop and always ask – yourself: Do I believe this criticism? Is it really true?
The answer will generally be “No”. Because the critic is not in my skin, and their neurons aren’t firing like mine.

Ask again: Can I fix it? Whatever “it” is. If it is in my power to fix “it”, then I just go do that. End-of-story.

Just one more thing: if what you think I said is criticism, then tell me how you feel about it. I sincerely hope that the words that came out of my mouth or (through my fingers) was intended to be loving, constructive feedback, because that is how I want it to be for me. I appreciate to be helped. Because without good feedback, I will not be able to grow (you probably neither – but you are the Chief Experience Holder of your life – so maybe you are different).
This part – about loving, constructive feedback helps me to grow – holds especially true if one of us automatically tends to take on one of those not-so-good coping options mentioned above.

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