Thursday, 26 February 2015

#4 learn to cope with criticism

a strong woman accepts both compliments and criticism graciously.... Mandy Hale

As much as I hate to admit it, in life I know have to expect some criticism. I take criticism VERY badly, I agonize over negative comments, I read criticism into comments that were not even intended to be that way. I know this is a reflection of poor self esteem and a childhood that was sadly lacking in positive reinforcement. I made extra sure that I gave my own children positive words and encouragement and taught them to be proud of themselves, but there is still the voice of my father in my head telling me I'm not good enough at whatever it is I'm doing.

My father is now in a care facility with advanced Alzheimers disease, but his influence still hangs over my head at times and comes through when I hear someone say something that I perceive as a negative comment about my work performance, or whatever area of life they choose to comment on. I even anticipate criticism that doesn't come to pass - that is a real talent I know!

For instance, I got a small tattoo on my foot (I may cover that in another post down the track) and I was sure that I would be cast out as a scarlet woman at church, that people would think less of me and my choices etc etc. In the 18 months since it was done, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON has been critical to my face - in fact, most people haven't even noticed it! I have heard many negative comments about tattoos in general, but none directed at me personally. So, I spent a chunk of wasted time working out how I would respond to criticism that I never actually received!

Self image and self esteem are difficult areas for me to deal with - a compliment can have such a positive effect on a person (me especially!) and I have learnt over time to accept a compliment graciously. I now need to work on how to accept criticism graciously - assess it and see if it is constructive and if I can learn from it, or alternatively it may be someone else's low self esteem coming through and they are trying to bring me down to their level. I need to disengage my emotions and insecurities long enough to think it through and see the comment for what it truly is. I know I am not perfect and I am sure there are many areas I can grow in, so taking criticism with the right attitude (rather than getting defensive and trying to justify myself and my actions) may be a way of growing and changing in a positive direction.


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