If I were to tell you a story about someone I know who got unfairly criticized and was left feeling really shitty and helpless because, in fact, there was nothing she could have done to make things better … you’d probably be able to see it wasn’t her fault and that she would do well not to take the criticism so personally.
But, if this story were about me or you, not taking the criticism personally would very likely seem a lot more of a challenge.
To help understand your or my part in a criticism directed at you or I, it may help to consider 4 different scenarios:
1. It really isn’t about you: you simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ended up getting what anyone would get under those conditions. If you know you stumbled into a situation like that, don’t take it personally.
2. Look at the other person’s intention: was the person in a rush or pre-occupied, and ended up running over you because they didn’t notice you or your feelings? Perhaps they just got yelled at by their boss or had a fight with their spouse. Maybe they’re the type who just has to be right. Again, it isn’t about you. Probably best if you quietly left, or mumbled something about perhaps another time and then left.
3. Look at your own focus or pre-occupation: are you worrying over something, or in a hurry, or otherwise pre-occupied? Did you just get yelled at by boss or spouse? Do you need always to be right – possibly suffering from self-doubt or some other type of emotional pain? If so, you might have unwittingly set up a situation that invited criticism. Is it worth it to you to find out?
4. Mirroring. Is whatever the criticizer throwing your way something you have done in the past; or another member of your family growing up? In other words, you might just be triggered by unfinished business from the past. If so, now is a great time to begin the process of finishing that unfinished business.
That’s what therapists are for, if needed – to help you and I unravel past unfinished business so that we can walk lighter and connect better with others.
Or … better yet, it may help to lighten up a little. And give yourself a bit of space.
Don’t take life tutu seriously
Quote of the Week
““Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
– Mark Twain
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