Do you take criticism personally?

depression and anger

A friend of mine asked me if there was any material she could read about how angry she feels when she experiences criticism. Whilst I pointed her to a couple of different texts I thought it would be useful to have my thought and experience of this in one place.

Let’s first examine criticism itself. No one, not even me, is perfect. We all make mistakes (one of my common mistakes is thinking I am perfect), and when me make mistakes we get feedback. That feedback may be from the environment such as landing painfully and embarrassingly on a hard surface when I try to run across a clearly marked wet floor (of course being perfect those signs don’t apply to me). Or I get feedback from others who may wish to point out my mistakes, or offer advice on how I could have done better or improved what I have done.  The point I am making is that everywhere you go and in everything you do you will get feedback in different ways unless, that is, you are perfect and no one is perfect. So this does apply to all of us.

There is a saying in coaching circles that goes something along the lines of “there is no such thing as criticism there is only feedback.”  That is a mantra to keep you going at times when you feel burdened by the criticisms of others. In my opinion this is good for short term use and works reasonably well if you are feeling emotionally resilient.

But what if you are not?……Here’s an idea of what may be going on for you?

Your level of self esteem is not as healthy as it could be.

As a result you may be using the world around you to make yourself feel better. Are you someone who measures their self esteem by the job they have? I was that person once. Perhaps you put extra effort into work and extra hours because it feeds your need to be respected, acknowledged or appreciated? I have acted like that. The problem with behaviour like this is that it can become a beast that needs ever more feeding.  For me the more I came to rely upon working harder or delivering higher results to boost my feelings of respect and appreciation the more I needed it. Icouldn’t stop and before I knew it I was the one that arrived earlier and left later than anyone else. I’m became the one who was disenchanted with the fact that I was no longer appreciated and respected for the work I did when in reality people had just got used to my work rate and perhaps a little bored with continually stroking my ego to keep me happy. I create that issue. No one else.

Are you taking it personally?

May be you are managing to take the most innocent and well meant comment and turn it into a deep personal insult?

Can you hear “thanks for doing the washing up really appreciate it but did you notice you missed a cup?”  and react with words to the effect of  ”well if it’s so important it’s done to your standards why not do it your effing self?”

If you can then after you have blown up and you are in a calmer place ask yourself this question “what did I really make that mean?”

The chances are you made it mean something like “you think I am useless!” or “you think I am worthless”

That being the case you have negative core beliefs. These little parts of negative programming are a really great way of rejecting yourself time and again. The person who gave you feedback is simply doing that….giving feedback. It’s you who takes it and makes it mean something far more sinister.

Back to no one being perfect.

No one is perfect but there are a lot of people out there who are trying to appear perfect. These are the people that carry shame with them and think the only way they will not get found out is to act and appear perfect in every way. That way we won’t discover their dreadful secret.

Shame bound people don’t make mistakes. They think they are a mistake and to cover that up they seek perfection in everything they do.

To those who carry shame criticism is the equivalent of being found out, being caught in the act of something indefensible. The only way out is to attack back and get angry. It’s what we call self defence anger.

For some of us, when we hear criticism just one of those mechanisms may be going on inside us. For a lot of us it will be all three. That’s why we deal with all three as a matter of course.

Stopping these mechanisms happening is about emotional self maintenance. You don’t drive a car without getting it serviced regularly but we neglect our own emotional state until it’s too late and we have a blow up.

So next time you are offered some criticism look for the positive place it will, be coming from.  Ask yourself what really nice reason could be true that explains  why this person is saying this? In my experience 9 times out of ten the positive will be true.

For the other 1 in 10? If they are deliberately seeking to undermine me then that’s their issue to deal with. They are the one with a problem not me and if they are trying to hurt me the last thing I am going to do is give them the satisfaction of thinking their plan worked.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

If any of those briefly summarised issues apply to and you would like a confidential chat call Calm People East Midlands  07850614042 and ask for Julian or Calm People West Midlands 07950344658 and ask for Paula

If you want to know more about the anger management, stress management, and emotional resilience courses run in Derby & Birmingham call the above numbers or click here


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