Do you go into “pout” mode once you find yourself on the receiving end of some scathing criticism, deservedly or not, while not being able to dish it out yourself. Some of it may be misplaced, perhaps even slightly mean spirited, playful, or constructive, but it stings and is painful to hear all the same. Intellectually, you know that you’re prone to blunder, make the occasional mistake, but you’re a big boy (or gal) now, so you’d rather believe that you’re free of it.
Once you’re reminded or told, you then instinctively begin viewing yourself in the same way that others do. It then creates, at times, not a very pretty picture of painful cognitive dissonance that most of us know all too well.
No one really enjoys or are wanting to be criticized, or judged, and verbally told so. We want to imagine that we’re without flaw, but in reality, we all know that no one ever is perfect.
The way that the majority of us unfortunately seek to resolve ourselves is just by discrediting any criticism which comes our way. We don’t enjoy criticism about ourselves, or receive undeserved judgement about anything which emanates us, such as the work we do, our material possessions, or our opinions. We often even bristle once any associated groups that we identify with, such as our favorite sports team, comes under any type of fire.
Criticism Should Be About Getting Better
Deep down we know that criticism, much like failing at something, also gives us the opportunity for self improvement. If no one bothers to tell us that we’re doing something wrong, we’ll then mostly likely just continue doing the same thing, over and over again, going down the same path.
This is why any external judgement which can sting us is a good thing. Certainly, we don’t want to hear it, and will avoid it at all costs, including initially denying the fact what we know is most likely true.
But the verbal slap also provides the impetus for examining ourselves with a critical eye, so we can then make a positive change usually for the better. After all, feeling bad once criticized, even just a little bit, then what incentive is there to consider the criticism on its own merits.
What We Need To Ask Ourselves
It comes down to two issues that we should be asking ourselves once someone criticizes us, whether we like it or not:
• How are we able to prevent ourselves from dismissing the criticism before we even have an opportunity to evaluate it, and
• How can we effectively determine what’s a valid criticism, and what’s an invalid criticism
Accepting The Criticism
Placing the all almighty ego aside, the following is how you should be attacking any criticism that’s directed your way:
• Never Respond To The Criticism Immediately
Your first initial reaction and impulse should be dismissal based on wanting to preserve your self image. Most will also fail at this, but you can always…
• Reconsider The Criticism More Logically Later
Just because you rightly defended yourself against whoever dared to criticize you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should just dismiss their criticism, and just forget about it. But to do this, you need to…
• Spend Time To Continuously Improve Yourself
You need to establish this as a habit and find the time to do so, by having an honest dialogue with yourself. This will give you the opportunity to consider the criticism based on its own merits. This is when you ask yourself…
• What If The Criticism Is True?
You need to honestly ask yourself this question, strictly as a hypothetical, and then begin to explore its true implications
Analyzing The Criticism
What you need to do is determine if the criticism is valid, or if it’s completely bunk. Just as any hypothesis which is scientific, it needs to be validated for truth.
If you realize that a criticism is indeed true, then the claim should be able to predict or explain other things. For instance, if someone says that you become inappropriately angry, then you should be able to account multiple instances when you’ve lost your temper, and then later regretted it.
Also, if these instances should occur sometime in the future, and if the criticism accurately predicted your future behavior, then that’s a sign that you should take it seriously, and as valid.
Looking At Yourself
At times, it helps to evaluate these scathing criticisms more objectively if you vision yourself much like you would watching a movie, or a video of yourself, so you can then better judge your actions, seen through someone else eyes.
Ultimately, what should really motivate you to take criticism seriously are the consequences if you don’t. For example, if someone threatens to leave you if you don’t resolve your anger issues, you’ll then most likely take that criticism a lot more seriously.
So generally, even though you may lament that you should be facing the consequences of ignoring criticism which are true, those consequences, similar to the wrath of the criticism itself, can also be your ally, which can then motivate you.
This because the actual threat of the consequences will force you to make the changes that you’ll most likely need to make.