“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
There was a time in my life when I hated, and even feared, being appraised or evaluated. I didn’t like being told I was wrong. In fact, I tried to live a ‘careful’ life or lied to avoid these horrible encounters.
Do you find yourself bending over backward to try to win someone’s approval? Or try to hide something you feel won’t get approval?
Do you pull yourself in and try to make yourself physically small when you are criticized?
When someone makes a comment about you, do you become defensive, or go take the other route of going quiet, while at the same time as your mind races around attaching all sorts of meaning to the comments?
Critics abound! None of us are immune to them.
You cannot control what others say to you but, when you learn to embrace criticism amazing things can happen.
New horizons open
Criticism can open you up to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. When you pay attention to the words being spoken and not the criticism itself, you just might get a glimpse of a brilliant idea that you can use or expand upon. Listening to criticism had lead me to make some positive moves that I hadn’t thought of.
Listening skills become sharper
When you realize there is value in listening to what is being said, you become an active listener. The typical reaction would be to mentally begin preparing your defense as you partially listened. When you stop doing this, you begin to listen attentively to the whole comment. Separating the gems from the rubbish and then use them to make adjustments and gain success.
Have more win-win scenarios
When you dig in your heels and defend your position at all cost, you could be doing so at the expense of losing friends, family or a job. Sometimes when you know there is no way to reach an agreement, the best thing to do is to agree to disagree. It is surprising how fast the tension eases and the conversation changes. An adversary could become a friend.
Criticism gives you the opportunity to explore your people-pleasing tendencies. Relationships based on the need for constant approval can be draining for all parties. You cannot control what other people think and it is an energy drainer to try. When you stop pleasing others it is very liberating and your relationships often strengthen.
Saves time and energy
After receiving criticism, if you spend hours stewing on what he/she meant, what you should have said, or engaging in mental arguments, you are wasting time and energy. You lose focus and become less productive. However, if you can refrain from reacting and quickly appraise the criticism for it’s worth then move on, you save time and energy. For me, this is one of the great benefits of embracing criticism.
Become less stressed
When you acquire the ability to let go of your feelings and thoughts around being criticized you naturally become less stressed. Letting go of worries and fears releases the stress that you hold when you are in a defensive mode. When you no longer make yourself small and start to curl inward like you want to hide, you know you have let go. You can stand tall, be open, and listen for what you can use.
Many times criticism magnifies you inner insecurities. You may have doubts or insecurities around something, but the moment someone points it out you are off to prove them wrong. I was great at coming back in attack mode. The beauty of it is that once you get beyond that which is holding you back you realize it wasn’t so bad after all. You might even be motivated to take on something completely new.
Recognize genuine vs false criticism
Some critics give you useful comments while others have no constructive value whatsoever. It is important to differentiate between what is useful and what isn’t. This is very valuable as you strive to do bigger and greater things in life. The greater your success the more criticism you will receive. Know what to ignore and what to heed can be invaluable.
Create clear boundaries
There are times when critics deliver their message in less than tolerable ways. When this happens you might reply with, “You are making some valuable points but, I think I would be more willing to accept them if you didn’t raise your voice.” It is one thing to give criticism, it is another to be rude or arrogant. Letting others know how you feel establishes a boundary of what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Receiving criticism well reminds you that it is okay to have imperfections – in yourself and others. If you can admit you aren’t perfect and strive to make improvements in these areas, you’ll experience more happiness, peace, joy and success.
Accepting that you, and everyone else, is perfectly imperfect makes life so much easier and happier. This is was a great relief in my life and I am lighter for it.
In what ways has embracing criticism enhanced your life?
Featured photo credit: Full Speed Engines on the Disney Cruise/TreyRatcliff via flickr.com