The Skinny – Amy Brunell

imgresHelpful Criticism?

“You didn’t do that quite right.” Helpful (?) criticisms are increasing lately. They come out of the woodwork from all sorts of expected and unexpected places. I’ve been working on handling people’s opinions with grace. They seem like a lesson that I need to keep learning until I completely let them go. What I’m practicing is my response. I realize that at times I don’t need to respond, because it’s not about me. Their ideas about what I do or don’t do is about them. I can check in with myself, ‘Is their feedback true for me?” but once I determine I’m good, I can just let it go.

Because if I get more “infamous,” I will get more criticism. And there is nothing to do about it except to deal with each interaction with grace. “Thank you” and let it go. Literally, not even holding it one moment any further in my body than I have to. I don’t want to spend any more time ruminating about, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe they said that, thought that, acted like that!”

Because I tend to ruminate on criticisms, I’m trying to come up with better solutions to truly letting them go. Maybe I should write down all possible criticisms I could receive and then I could desensitize myself to anybody’s stuff, simply saying, “I’ll consider what you are saying” or “Thank you.” Or even “No” when it is appropriate.

“You did that wrong.”
“You could do that a little better.”
“You’re not having fun.”
“You’re trying too hard.”
“You’re doing too much.”
“You could have handled that better.”
“Keep it simple.”
“Keep it light.”
“You’re not doing enough.”
“You’re not doing it right.”
“You just have to do xyz.”
“Well, if you had done xyz.”
“Why didn’t you know about xyz?”

Familiar list, huh? Now I just have to read it and realize each time one of these comes into my space. I can look at each sentence as a separate entity that walks in and simply say to myself, “Oh there you are. I know you and you don’t get to come in here today!” Because in the end, aren’t all the criticisms the same? Aren’t they usually someone else’s projections of who I should be, how I should act, or how I’ll benefit according to them?

In addition, I consider how I project my values on to others as well. How am I critical of their endeavors? Difficult to notice and pay attention to. Often I notice my own criticism comes from the feeling that I’m not getting my needs met. And in turn, I need to look at another’s criticisms as a method for trying to get their needs met. It doesn’t mean I have to take it in. I can keep my heart soft in light of their “feedback.”

So what are our needs? It could be some ideas of how the world should work and how we need to feel safe if the world works the way we think it should. Criticisms often come from a place of fear. It also comes from a deep need to have the world operate the way we think it should. It is a method of finding control.

Criticisms can be coming from a memory of an earlier experience (often unconsciously) that somehow the current situation reminded them of. Some people need to project their feeling of safety and perhaps justice, into the current situation.

If you think about a criticism you have offered to someone lately, ask yourself, “What would happen if they continued down their current path doing whatever it is they are doing?” And keep asking yourself, “And then what?” as you deconstruct the problem that you have. They don’t necessarily feel it’s a problem.

With an honest examination, you might think, “If they continue this way, then they’ll be unhappy, I won’t get my needs met and then they might get sad and I might feel unacknowledged, and then what?” This is the difficult work of true honesty. Often we realize that little of our issue has to do with the other person. It has to do with ourselves.

“Hello other’s opinions! How are you today? Are you coming from a deep need for control, fear or from a projected memory? Is there anything here for me? Do I need to embrace you or can I simply tip my hat to you and send you on your way?”

Then give yourself a big hug and be on your way.

The Actors' Gang

1 Comment

  1. 8am Debbie.

    This artiicle came at a most opportune time. I am a huge culprit of giving UNSOLICITED ADVICE. I do want to control, I do want to feel important, I do want to FEEL! I pray each day that I keep my unsolicited opinion to myself. it is hard, but I am getting better each day and feel that one day, I will be able to feel good about myself and not need others to “validate” me or my opinion, or my knowledge or whatever it is I need validated!
    Thanks for all the great articles!

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