One of the hardest things that we come up again in life is when someone is critical of us, it could be a colleague, a friend or a family member, it could even be someone we don’t like very much! However, it doesn’t seem to matter where it originates, criticism is the one thing that seems to stick to us like glue, leaving you wondering if in fact that terse comment is the reality of the situation.
For example, when I was about to publish my book Feel Good Factor in 30 days I remember someone I knew at the time literally throwing the draft at me and telling me it was complete rubbish; I was crushed. I didn’t know where this criticism had come from as everyone else had been very complimentary about it. However, I then proceeded to do an enormous amount of thinking about it, was she right, did she see something in it that no one else had done, was she the only person telling me the truth? I nearly didn’t publish because I wondered if she had got a point, would others then criticise me, was I setting myself up for a fall?
This is where the problem lies, because when we receive criticism it often speaks to our fears and insecurities, those issues that we’ve probably thought about already and tried to ignore. When we hear them from someone else they seem to have more weight, are more persuasive, it is like our fears are being validated. The difficulty is is that we don’t do the same with all the compliments, it’s not as if we weigh it all up in a rational way and conclude on balance as we have more compliments than criticisms the idea, or whatever it is, is clearly sound. No it’s more like one criticism cancels out pretty much all the compliments in their entirety, as though the compliments carry no weight at all!
Clearly I went on to publish my book and that criticism proved completely wrong, so what can we do to regain some balance, how can we get over the critics that crush?
First of all, take a moment to stop. Put aside the negative comment and focus on the positive comments that you have had or the positive aspects of what you are doing. If it helps write them down so that you can see them in black and white.
Secondly, so often with these things it isn’t about you, the critic has their own ‘stuff’ going on, they have probably talked to your own fears & insecurities because they are their fears & insecurities too. It may be that they are scared of failure or being criticised so it is easier to point out the negatives in whatever you are doing to prevent you from failure or being criticised by others.
Thirdly, it’s a good idea to ask yourself, is going over this one piece of criticism really helping me? Often it isn’t, it doesn’t make us feel good at all! It’s also important to remember than unless the person is there in front of us saying it, it’s us repeating that message over and over again, not them.
Finally, if all else fails, ask someone you really trust what they think about what has been said. This is what I eventually did with my book, it wasn’t that the other strategies didn’t work because they did. I realised that the person in question was projecting their insecurities onto me and that I was making the issue worse by going over it in my head. So as a belt and braces approach I ran it past someone I trusted and you could say the rest is history!
Andrea Morrison is a Transformational Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist & Speaker (andreamorrison.co.uk) and is author of The Feel Good Factor in 30 days.