“What you said was stupid!”
“What are you wearing? You look like a frump!”
“You didn’t do that right. What were you thinking?”
When you read those comments, do they connect with you in some way?
Do comments like that make you shrink? Shut you down? Put you on the defensive? Drive you crazy? Bring out the worst in you?
Critical comments are a HUGE trigger for me. HUGE. I always feel like they're a passive-aggressive way to tell me that who I am as I am is not cool or good enough.
“Don’t be you, Pam.” “Conform.” “Be what I need you to be.”
In short, I perceive criticalness as a means to get me to become a peacekeeping, good girl. A role that I’ve worked to let go of, because it doesn't fit me.
So, in the not too distant past, when someone would make what I felt was a critical comment I’ve done one of two things. I've either shrunk or I gotten pissed off to the point of shutting down.
I’m not going to lie, as much work as I’ve done around critical comments, I still fricking dislike them with a passion because they still hurt. Not to mention, they're a great way to shut down the connection.
BUT here’s something I’ve come to realize...
I can’t control what another person says or how they say it but I do have choices when it comes to being on the receiving end of critical comments. I also have choices when it comes to being on the giving end, particularly as it relates to my critical comments of me.
CHOICES AND OPTIONS FOR TAKING THE BITE OUT OF CRITICAL COMMENTS
(Disclaimer: IF the following suggestions don’t feel like they’d work for you, please DO NOT use them.)
During one of my morning journaling sessions, this little nugget came bubbling up to the surface. Critical comments are a demonstration of “false superiority” which often comes from a place of feeling insecure or “not good enough”. When I’m on the receiving end of a critical comment I can remind myself of this. This helps me to remember that I don’t have to shrink and I definitely don’t have to conform.
I can imagine myself in a cool, iridescent bubble. Outside of that bubble stand two big, burly bouncers. I can imagine them saying to the person who’s being critical, “Sorry...your energetic “outfit” is just not on our energetic dress code. NEXT person in line!” This one makes me chuckle! And laughing helps me to lighten the heaviness that comes with critical comments.
Oh, and if I’m the one handing out the critical comments I can remind myself of how unbecoming I find them to be and make it a point to stop and apologize. If I’m criticizing myself I can do the very same. Just stop.
I can also tell the person being critical that what they’re saying isn’t cool and that I’m pausing the conversation for a moment. Then I can take a deep breath and remind myself that I do not need to buy into whatever critical thing that person is saying.
At the end of the day, it helps to remind myself that I’m not here to conform. I’m here to be me, unapologetically and so someone’s critical comment is theirs to own. It’s not mine to take on or do anything with.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO TAKE THE BITE OUT OF CRITICAL COMMENTS?
So, my friends, I turn it over to you, the next time you find yourself being criticized what will you experiment with to avoid the bite marks?
Will you use one of the suggestions above? Mash a few together? Or try something completely different? The choice is yours!
Just remember that with choice always comes power. And that you, my friends, are far stronger and more powerful than any critical comment or the bite it has.