Has someone has ever caused you emotional pain with careless, mean or sarcastic remarks? What follows are some practical ideas to avoid that sort of pain in the future, and to also make sure that someone is not your own self.
Criticism can be a positive force at times. We must be able to handle it if we are to learn new skills. Without some form of feedback it would be hard to improve our performance or behavior.
But criticism also has the potential to inflict pain. It can cut very deep and even stay with us for our lifetime. Depending on how well you handle it, criticism has the potential to put serious limits on your life, or to take you forward into higher levels of personal performance.
The secret is how you handle the criticism you receive. The best response to criticism is to separate the facts from the opinions of others. A fact is something that is somehow provable and can be shown to be true. An opinion is an idea, or someone’s personal interpretation of something.
Take your dog, for example. If you were to think, that’s a beautiful dog, it would be an opinion. The underlying fact it that it is a dog you are referring. Your neighbor might think your dog is ordinary looking or even ugly. One thought – it is a dog – is an objective fact. The other thought – it is a beautiful dog – is a subjective opinion.
There are periods in our lives when other peoples’ opinions of us seem more important than our own opinion. This especially occurs during our sensitive teenage years. When we are beginning to take our place as a young man or woman, the opinions of our peer’s often have a huge impact.
Actually that is a natural part of becoming socialized. But we need to correct this as we become adults. Sooner or later we have to make a serious decision to have our own opinion of ourselves be the most important opinion.
A good skill to develop is the ability to choose your frame of reference. A frame of reference is the criteria by which we judge something to determine if it is valid.
There are two possible frames of reference: internal and external. Suppose you have completed a task at work. How do you know you have done it well? Does your direct supervisor tell you have done a great job, or do you just know without anyone saying so? The first frame of reference is external, and the second is internal.
Actually neither frame of reference is better than the other, and both have their own importance. When learning something new, having an external frame of reference may be useful. It can otherwise be difficult to reach beyond what we already know.
An internal frame of reference, on the other hand, has you deciding what is good, bad, or otherwise. If you use a personal feeling to judge yourself, you are using an internal frame of reference.
Deal positively with opinions. When you are thinking about yourself and how you are regarded, it is beneficial to create some solid, positive internal frames of reference.
People with strong self-esteem operate from a positive internal frame of reference regarding their personal worth. People with less self-esteem operate from an external frame of reference, and are more likely to accept other people’s opinions of them. This is does not lead to a positive life experience.
Correct your own negative self-talk by focusing on what you what you do well. Be a little kinder and forgiving of yourself, and stop re-creating past painful judgments by bringing them into the present moment. The interesting to note is that this actually creates positive changes in your brain.