In my past, I have known myself to not take criticism well, even constructive criticism – instead, I would take it personally (unfortunately,you can see it all over my face). I know that I am a perfectionist and strive to not only do my best, but the best in everything that I do. I also know that when someone tells me something I did wrong and ways to improve it, I become very hard on myself because I feel that I should have never made the mistake in the first place. This changed when a previous supervisor sat down with me and discussed ways of improving how I respond to situations when my work is critiqued. As we discussed my typical response in these situations, I realized that the problem I had was not that I couldn’t recognize my own mistakes, but rather how hard I was on myself when I did mess up. During these times, I would begin to focus on my inabilities instead of my abilities.
While I know that this is normal for many people, I also know that this is an unhealthy habit and way of thinking because in reality, we all need some constructive criticism to be able to understand where we need improvement. It is silly for anyone to think that they are perfect at what they do, or that there is no room for enhancement – humans are not perfect, as much as we wish we were or like to believe we are. With this mentality, one will not make progress because they are not willing to grow. It is also silly for someone to believe that they are not good enough because they messed up and did something wrong. It is completely human for us to make mistakes and to need improvement, small or large. And yes, maybe it was a one time mistake and you normally never make it – but who is to say that you would not have made it again. Take these one-time mistakes and learn from them to the same extent as you would learn from a continuous mistake.
This week I received some constructive feedback that I knew was warranted but I began to have tremendous self-doubt and feel bad about myself. When I notice myself behaving similarly to how I use to behave, I searched the web for some tips and advice. I came across an article from TinyBuddha, entitled “How to Deal with Criticism Well: 25 Reasons to Embrace It.” Reading over these 25 reasons to embrace criticism really helped me step outside of myself and see how I was reacting. I knew that beating myself up over a mistake that I had made was not the answer. Instead, I felt myself relating very much to the author of the article, especially when she wrote “Because I was desperately afraid of being judged, I took everything, from everyone, as condemnation.” This sentence is me in a nutshell. I am not one that likes to be judged, nor can I easily brush off these judgments. I believe that there are many others that feel the same. But as I said before, this is not a healthy behavior or thought process.
The author then went on to break down the 25 reasons into 5 specific areas where we can benefit from criticism the most; Personal Growth, Emotional Benefits, Improved Relationships, Time Efficiency and Self-Confidence. Personally, I related to every reason under each category on accepting criticism. I felt as though each of these reasons resonated with me as to why I do not take criticism well and to have someone else be able to understand and describe exactly how I felt made me realize that I am not the only one (something we all like to hear when it comes to mistakes that we make). Even when I tried to pick out my favorites I kept finding a new one and couldn’t choose!
We can all make efforts to revamp our lives, and we should not be afraid or unwilling to hear these changes pointed out by someone else. Aristotle said, “Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Are we so afraid of being criticized that we are willing to stop saying, doing and being? – or will we come to recognize that feedback and commentary is typically given to help us make positive realizations about areas in our lives that need growth? Remember, when our imperfections are brought to light we must not do the very thing we got upset over in the first place – criticizing ourselves.
Yes, it is human nature, and even healthy, to take things personal but only to a certain extent. That being said, we must not let what others say have such an impact on us that we begin to doubt ourselves and our abilities, but instead take what is said as a lesson in which we can learn to better ourselves. So make sure you check out the 25 reasons to see if any resonate with you. If they do, try to remind yourself the next time you receive criticism and feedback of all of their benefits!
If you have a hard time positively accepting and adjusting to criticism, know that you are not alone. If you are having trouble dealing with criticism, judgments, or self-doubt, give us a call to set up a free phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378. Our Orlando therapists and Orlando Life Coach are experienced in helping you work through dealing with criticism and judgments from others and yourself.
Here’s to us making strives each day and remembering to never be too hard on ourselves and always being open to recommendations and change. ~Sabina