How to grow from criticism
On November 3, 2016 I wrote, “when I am not loving myself, criticizing me, judging me, hating me and waging war on self for all of the ways I don’t measure up, I react to other people’s harsh words as though it is the truth. I know they are only echoing my own thoughts but that bounce back is so painful I want to plug my ears and curl up on the floor.”
People who criticize you will give you your best work. ~ Byron Katie
That journal entry was written in the early days of a particularly painful chapter of my life and the beginning of another deep, transformational journey. This work is never ending. Whether you are just beginning your own journey or excavating a newly discovered layer, you’ll want to read on for some tips on how to navigate your journey so you stay on it and experience the gold that lies beneath.
Oxford Dictionary defines criticism as the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. No wonder it hurts! Criticism goes right to the heart of our deep need to belong. Criticism usually comes from an individual who has their own insecurity, a weak communication style and low self awareness. Sometimes leaders are aware of their impact and yet struggle to change it.
Make no mistake, it doesn’t make someone’s insensitive words permissible, it just means that focusing on what they did wrong, or getting caught up in the he said/she said takes you away from all the learning available to you.
If you go with self compassion and a curious mind through the initial discomfort and pain, you’ll develop a skill that will change your life forever and bring you much joy and satisfaction in your relationships – the art of self reflection. You can begin this inner work with the exploration of what resonated or seemed true.
Ways to engage in self reflective practice is to journal. Here are some prompts I use: What nerve did those words touch? What wants to be healed? What can you own? What might you do or say differently next time? What do you love about how you handled the situation?
With practice, you’ll experience lightness and ease with communication. You’ll develop the skill of being able to hear difficult things differently. In those difficult moments you’ll hear opportunities for growth and ways you might assert yourself in a healthy way. Self reflection will give you altitude, broader perspective and access to creative solutions. Perhaps this is an opportunity to be more direct, assertive or set boundaries.
During this process you’ll reconnect to the beautiful soul that you are, find your voice and your strength. Remember, no matter what anyone says, the gaps you experience are not flaws in you. Those gaps are invitations to grow, learn and expand who you are in the world.
The more at peace you are with you, the less likely you are to suffer when people are clumsy with their own communication styles.
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