You can’t please everyone all the time, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying. When we hear the criticism that comes from not pleasing others, that knowledge doesn’t stop us from feeling the disappointment. Today, we’re going to take a thousand words to examine what criticism is, how it hurts us, and how you can stop yourself from feeding what can become an endless cycle.
What is Criticism?
Criticism is the analysis and judgment of someone or something’s merits and faults. It is an expression of disapproval based on perceived merits or faults. Criticism can come from sources outside of ourselves as well as from inside.
Regardless of the origin, the impact is the same. Criticism undermines a person’s sense of self, and the ability to think clearly and to have confidence. It makes one feel assaulted, rejected and hurt. It causes one to doubt their sense of reality. It builds on itself and will increase in intensity and frequency. Criticism carries
blame and an implied superiority of the one doing the criticizing. It develops into a way of relating, a mindset and a life style. It becomes a pattern for living.
Looking at everything criticism can and does do to the person hearing it leads us to three very important questions. Who gets to decide what a person’s merits or faults are in the first place? Who gets to evaluate a person’s value and worth? And why do we listen?
I Love to Sing!
As a child, Jannie loved to run around the house and sing. Singing entertained her and brought her joy. In her fantasy life, she was a song bird bringing life and joy to the world. Her family never evaluated her ability, they simply enjoyed her. When she went to school, she continued her singing and her belief that she was a
song bird. It never occurred to her that singing was to be evaluated.
Unfortunately, there was a bully in her class who saw her joy and was jealous. He decided that singing was stupid and proceeded to tell Jannie that her singing was ugly and off-key. He then proceeded mock her to singing.
At first she was startled by his remarks, but soon the words wormed their way into her thinking. When she would begin to sing she would hear his words of criticism. Her joy shriveled.
The purpose behind the bully’s criticism was to steal her joy and to make himself feel better. That is what criticism does, it kills joy, destroys happiness and takes away from others. It is for the purpose of making ourselves look better and feel better by making another less than what they are, or less than ourselves.
Throughout our lives, we will discover that there are people, places, things and events that are not pleasing to us, or good for us. Some of them we can choose not to keep in our lives; however, we don’t always have that choice. That’s why we need to decide now how we are going to interact with and relate to these people and things.
Evaluations Are Necessary
It is important to note that while we are making these evaluations, we do not get to determine the value of others. We are deciding what is good for us and important to us. How do we do that, and when needed express those choices, without criticizing that which we do not desire?
Self-awareness is the key. Probing to determine why you are thinking and feeling these things. Our feelings are there to bring us messages. Our thoughts are for us to ponder. They are there to inform our decisions, and both need to be examined and considered carefully before we talk to others about our preferences.
Within every criticism is a desire, a disguised wish and a negative
expression of a need. One way to identify these roots to your feelings it to take critical thoughts and put them into “I” statements, such as:
“I wish I could sing and find joy without judging myself.”
“I wish I was as well liked and respected as he is.”
“I want to feel as smart and confident as she does.”
The antidote to feeling critical is taking responsibility for what you want and need in life. It is the ability to allow yourself to know what it is you want and need, and have the self-acceptance to let yourself seek what you want. It is learning that there is enough to go around, that you can have your own joy and happiness without taking it from someone else.
An Idea to Try
Try this for every criticism you hear inside your own mind: turn it into a wish and a positive hope. Make a commitment to yourself to take each wish and articulate it as a positive hope. It could be as simple as starting your sentences with “I wish” instead of “I never.”
This exercise helps you identify what is missing or what needs to change in order to feel happier about yourself.
Criticism is an assault against the person to whom it is addressed, whether
it is against another or yourself. It is also a waste of energy. Joy obtained at the expense of someone else is fleeting, and doesn’t create the change that your self is pointing out with these critical thoughts. Criticism does not achieve your goals, and robs you of your peace.