Thursday, March 10, 2011

Criticism Will Come: How Are You Preparing? (Read Time: 3 min.)

"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." - Aristotle

At the heart of people-pleasing is a desire to be liked. There are offensive and defensive components to it. On the offense, people want to be approved of. On the defense, people don't want to be criticized. Somewhere in the middle is the truth: everybody's not going to like you.

How do you handle criticism when it comes?
Do you take it personally?
Do you build resentment?
Do you let someone else's opinion become your belief?

Part of being MORE of who you are is getting used to the idea that there will be those who won't get WHO that person is. On all levels, criticism without begins with criticism within. When we criticize others, it's a deflection from the inner critic we're tired of having criticize us. Even in a Pollyanna world, you need to expect that criticism's bound to happen. The real question is: what will you do with criticism when it comes?
Here are 7 things you do with criticism:

1) Hear it and clear it. Most of the time, you won't expect criticism before it comes out of the mouth of idiots (notice the criticism there, right?) and, by the time you receive it, you can hardly believe it. Your goal is not to avoid criticism or pretend that it didn't happen. Hear it (because you will) and then clear it by letting it go as easily as it came in. In other words, remind yourself that what that person thinks of you is none of your business.

2) Reconnect with who you REALLY are. The moment after the criticism comes, you need to find a way to reconnect with who you are. Mantras or affirmations are great ways to do this. Steal away for two minutes, get in front of a mirror, and say to yourself, "I am MORE than good enough" or "I am wonderful just as I am!" Whatever it takes to remind yourself that you are who you say you are is exactly what you need to spend 2-3 minutes doing.

3) Get the anger out without allowing the bitterness to seep in. This is a tough one. It's so easy to get hung up on one person's comment or bad behavior. But, when you take on resentment and bitterness, the only one left holding the bag is you. If what you want is a peaceful life, at some point, you're going to have let the anger go by getting it out instead of holding it within. Anger held inward becomes resentment and bitterness and the only person that those two chew out is you. Find a way to punch a bag, go for a run, or scream in your car but get all that out... and then choose to let it go.

4) Know that all criticism is some form of flattery. Yup, read that one again. If someone's going to waste life energy criticizing you, then it means that your life is interesting enough for that person to be spending time on. I don't waste time thinking about things that don't matter. Do you? Take the 'matter' part of that equation and show gratitude that who you are shines through and has an impact. At the same time, give those emotional vampires your best smile and keep it moving!

5) Redefine your circle of influence. You don't need to spend time with people who criticize you. For even the strongest person in the world, that kind of negative feedback is bound to bring you down. When you find that you're involved with people who have nothing but negative things to say about you or what you do, take care of it immediately: cut them off. If this is family, you might not be able to do that so kindly and with much compassion and grace, spend less time with those people. Either way, remember what your mother always said, "You are the company you keep." As old as that saying is, it remains true.
The bottom line on criticism is this: everybody gets it but not everybody swallows it. You don't have to take criticism personally. You don't have to be afraid to receive it. When you know how to handle anyone's critical comment, you know how to handle all of them. At the end of the day, a person can call you any name he/she wants. It's not what they call you that matters; it's the name you answer to that counts.

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