Watch out! Criticism coming in fast from the right! “Wham” – It’s a hit. Did you feel it?
The biggest criticism hitters are usually the ones we don’t see coming, or spot just a second or two before they hit, making it too late to intercept, swerve, dodge or deflect. That’s it. It’s an “ouch” on a scale of 1-10.
Here’s one of those stop and think for a moment questions: We know not to go around deliberately hurting others. Yes? However, how often do we apply this to ourselves? In fact, do you apply it to yourself at all?
Back to that “ouch.” Why the “ouch”? There are two main reasons we ‘feel’ the criticism so deeply. One, we want others to think well of us and right now that clearly isn’t the case. Two, we want to please others and they are telling us they are far from pleased with us.
The answer? Self-respect. When we are hit by criticism it is a signal that we are basing our self-respect on others’ opinions of us. One day we are riding the crest of the wave and the next our boat is full of water. Instead, we need to look to our opinion of ourselves.
No-one know us better than we do, we know our intentions and motivations. Yet, whilst knowing ourselves the best, how well do we really know ourselves? Solid self-respect is built on deep self-knowledge of who I am, my qualities and values. When this foundation is strong, we are able to see the criticism coming, evaluate its merit objectively and discard it or use it to see where we are going wrong. We can then use it to drop our unhelpful habits and swap them for more beneficial ones.
Be patient. It does take time to build a solid foundation. However, in the meantime, what can we do about any darts, arrows or rockets of criticism that are launched at us? Here are some ideas.
- The Neutraliser. Seen it coming? Neutralisers are great intercepts, they cause anything launched at you to fall flat. Neutralisers are phrases like, “Have a nice day”, or “It was nice to meet you”. The one who launched the rocket may be offended that their rocket didn’t have its desired effect, however, your neutraliser may have just averted a war. These are great to use with someone you know criticizes you a lot. Visualise the scene and your neutraliser in advance. Be careful not to get smug though or it won’t work so well.
- The Soap Opera. Lots of drama? Soap operas require drama and lots of it. Play with the idea that you are in a soap opera. Imagine the scene you are in is a scene in a soap opera and you are all soap opera actors. Can you see the drama, the script and the funny side of it?
- The Replay. This one is for people we know well. Watch for patterns, such as, the lining up of the rocket launcher with phrases like: You always…., you never…. They know what irritates you even if you don’t. Once we notice the pattern, we can then choose to edit the scene by eliminating our irritations one by one. Practise: press the replay button, let the scene run and then re-run it trying out different responses.
- The Cartoon. Do you tend to take it all too seriously? Don’t – see it as a cartoon.
- The Tortoise. Create your own sanctuary. A safe place where nothing from outside can enter. When a disturbance erupts, withdraw there like a tortoise does into its shell. Then come out refreshed and recharged and ready to help resolve the situation.
- A final note: Be Prepared. Practise your skills in advance so that you have them down to a fine art for when you need them.