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How To Give Criticism To Your Man Without Getting Mad

How To Give Criticism To Your Man Without Getting Mad

Unless your guy is from outer space then there have probably been times when he’s done something to upset you – most likely unintentionally – after all they are from Mars and we are from Venus.

It’s no secret that men and women have different brains and the way in which we think and perceive things can vary from each other. This can inevitably make relationships trying at times and conflicts can arise but there is a good way to deal with these differing of opinions and a not so good way. If you know you have a genuinely good man in your life then you know that dealing with life’s arguments and conflicts need to be dealt with in a balanced constructive way. If you find yourself getting mad, angry and acting out when you feel he’s done something wrong then you might want to learn to deal with the situation in a healthy, calm way using what I like to call ‘constructive criticism’. It’s not about playing games or manipulation – it’s understanding the fine balance of human relationships, interactions and emotions that can lead to less conflict and upset.

The following points can be applied to any situation where constructive criticism is needed but for this article I’m going to use a common pet peeve: communication – or lack of it. This can leave a woman to pull her hair out with frustration and a man left wondering what the heck he’s done wrong.

1. Self-Evaluate

This isn’t to try and point blame at you but we are all complex beings and issues are part and parcel of every person. It’s natural to want to stick up for yourself if you feel you’re being taken advantage of but it’s also important to stop and check your thoughts, feelings and actions before you dive into the crux of the matter. If you’re feeling angry and upset, ask yourself some questions – why do you feel this way? Is there another root cause or issue that you’re not dealing with e.g. past bad relationships? Has something triggered this reaction? Is it a reoccurring emotion that may need looking at more closely? Are you being fair?

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This isn’t to say you should just let it lie if you feel the situation is genuinely upsetting you. Stepping back and looking within yourself first can eliminate any unrelated issues and could possibly diffuse the conflict before it’s happened.

2. Pick The Right Time For Constructive Criticism

Even though you are giving him constructive criticism in the best way possible, timing is still an important factor when bringing it up. Find a time when he’s ready to listen and not just when you’re ready to talk. Make sure it’s not the moment he walks through the door after a long day or any time that he might be tired and unable to process a serious talk with you. After all you want to have his full attention so you can get the best out of him. It’s also good to bring up the discussion with a question – this makes it feel like you’re willing to talk about this at a time when he’s ready and shows consideration. It will go a long way from his point of view.

For example, when you think it may be a good time just go ahead and ask “I wanted to talk to you about something, is this a good time?”

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Think twice and try to figure out the possible root problems before giving out any criticism. Jumping to conclusions and assumptions will only create more unneeded upset and drama for both parties.

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For example, if you haven’t heard from him for a while or he hasn’t let you know he got somewhere safely then maybe there is a genuine reason – he’s busy and stressed or he’s been distracted by something. A lot of the time people have genuine reasons for not getting in touch (and this isn’t exclusive to men). Giving them the benefit of the doubt is the least you can do before jumping to conclusions and turning it into an expression of emotion especially if you don’t know the full story. Find out the facts first – at least your criticism will be more concrete this way.

4. Highlight How It Makes You Feel

The key is not to do this in an emotional way but calmly and to the point. People react much better to criticism when they can relate to the consequences their actions have to others. Sometimes people just unintentionally don’t see others’ perspectives and gently shifting this is a good way to allow them to see how what they’re doing is affecting you.

For example, explain to him that his lack of contact makes you worried about him and you don’t like feeling this way. After all it’s natural to feel worried especially if it’s someone you care about and it’s not unreasonable. This will allow him to see the consequences of his actions from your perspective and also show that he’s cared about.

5. Don’t Make It Personal

We have a tendency to point the blame when we’re angry and this can cause the other person to feel victimised and become defensive creating more anger in the process. Try to point to the problem instead by using non-judgemental language.

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For example, instead of piling on the blame with statements such as “it’s showing to me that you lack responsibility!” use more descriptive statements such as “you haven’t contacted me for a while and it’s starting to upset me”. When you put yourself in their position, getting blamed for things and having your character questioned is no fun for anyone whether they’re in the right or the wrong so there are better ways to approach this.

6. Listen To What He Has To Say

This can be hard especially when you feel you are the one upset by his actions – it should be him listening to you, right? Make sure you don’t make it all about you as this just opens up the divide and really creates a you vs. him situation. No matter what he has to say, listen to him and take what he’s saying onboard. If you feel his response is unreasonable or he shows no remorse or lack of understanding as to why you’re upset then tell him in a calm way using the other points listed here.

7. Include The Things He’s Done Right

Remember that you’ve chosen to be with this guy so hopefully he’s worth it and does a lot of great stuff for you. Whatever he’s done may be an annoying habit but it’s important to keep in mind all the wonderful qualities he has and the times he’s gone above and beyond for you. This doesn’t mean you should dismiss what he’s done but use this to diffuse the criticism and get him to understand that you do ultimately appreciate him. Guys do love a bit of appreciation!

For example, either before or after the constructive criticism just add in “I want you to know I really appreciate you and what you do for me”. You can even give examples and saying this will reenforce his status as your man and allow him to take the criticism with a more balanced view instead of feeling victimised and unappreciated.

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Conclusion

Feeling our emotions both positive and negative is a good thing but when we’re in a relationship these emotions can get intertwined with the person we share our life with. When something is bugging you then you need to bring it up and not box it up and lock it away as that only results in it manifesting somewhere else down the line and to a more substantial degree.

Constructive criticism is a way to allow you and the other person to view each others’ perspectives and solve the problem in a calm and ‘adult’ manner. All relationships are complex but if you find that using constructive criticism still doesn’t resolve the problem over time, then it might be time to question the amount of respect your partner has for you.

Featured photo credit: Charlie Foster via stocksnap.io

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

The Importance of Living in the Moment

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being[1].

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

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Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

Calm Your Mind

When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

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In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

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You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

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Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Live in the present with mindful eating.

    Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

    So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

    • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
    • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
    • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

    You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

    Mindful Activities

    Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

    Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

    You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

    Final Thoughts

    Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.

    Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

    Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.

    The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

    More About Living in the Present

    Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

    Reference

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