Be honest… with yourself! Why we are idled by criticism and/or simply reject it blindly.

Be honest… with yourself! Why we are idled by criticism and/or simply reject it blindly.

Today I was trying to get a message through to a friend, who just cannot take any kind of criticism. At best, he does not listen, at worst, he makes an endless statement about how much of a horrible person you are.

I get it, I used to be like him.

One day he told me something that really had a strong effect on me. I always love a good metaphor, maybe you start to see that in my posts. And, anyway, that’s exactly what he gave me that day:

“Stop attacking me while I am in a retreat licking my wounds”

But wounds from what? His life wasn’t all that bad, he was working a lot but mostly successful. Love life was not going extremely well but at least he was in control of most aspects. So what was the catch?

Well, truth is, the wounds were self-inflicted, as they often are.

You see, despite what we usually think, it’s mostly not the people that are easy on themselves that don’t listen to criticism. No, most of the time, it’s people that are not able to forgive and accept themselves as they are, who cannot hear anything from the outside world.

And then, I related to my own personal history. How did it go that I’d come from a point when each bit of criticism was massively rejected to a point where I could hear, bear, calmly think and act on it?

Well, first of all, I had worked with a psychologist for some time now, on some things including learning not to hate myself. That was a start. One reason why I’d hate myself, I realized, was because I was holding impossible expectations for my work, my body, my love life… For everything. I was never enough, always incomplete! And I say impossible, because my expectations were 1. Too high, but more importantly 2. Incompatible with each-others.

Whenever I was doing something, I had 2-3 or more voices in my head that were telling me at the same time to do and not do it. And most of them did not even come from me! I had my mum, my dad, my teachers, my grandparents, magazines, my friends etc. with me all of the time and each time I was following one voice I had a couple of others telling me that what I was doing was not right, not enough.

Within all that noise, I couldn’t stand another voice adding-up. Whenever somebody tried to give me advices, not alone criticize me, I was all: “Don’t you think I already know that?” I’d become aggressive, like an animal attacked while wounded, just as my friend was telling me.

So, how can we lower the voices, avoid hurting ourselves to be open to others’ remarks?

Thing is, when you start to already simply realize you’re being too hard on yourself to begin with, half of the way is already done. Realize, that all the expectations you have of yourself are often too high and too many. To take an expression from Scott Dinsmore, whom I really thank for everything he is doing on helping people following their dreams:

“Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself”

Review your expectations each time you are “shoulding” and try to choose the one that you really believe in. It may help to work on which value is most important for you first. Cut yourself some slack and accept to be imperfect. Focus on learning more about yourself. Chances are, you don’t know what you really want.

Another important point is to Be your own best friend Each time you are blaming you for something just ask yourself: “How would I treat my best friend in that same situation? What would I tell her/him?” I bet you would not be that hard, would you? (and if you would be, then, yes, move your butt! ;) )

And it does not mean you have to stop growing or getting better. You’ll do it even more, because you’ll know you are capable of doing it, you’ll not be pressured by perfection because you’ll know that one step forward is already a lot, and that enough is good enough.

You’ll not grow because you must, you’ll do it because it’s fun and because it’s rewarding.

Then, next time someone criticizes you, say “thank you”, at least for spending time paying you some attention. Try to see if it can be constructive by asking for advices, how they’d recommend you’ll change, what steps do they advise. And, in the end, decide if it’s good for you or not, and if it is, if it is the right time. You can always answer “sorry, but my goal is to do this, and I am afraid this is incompatible with what you advice, but thanks again, I really appreciate that you spend time trying to help”. Or “Thank you, for the moment, I try to focus on getting better at something else. But when I am done with this I will work on that as I feel this is important.”

 
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