Do you find it especially difficult to hear negative comments about yourself, your actions or your performance, even from people who you know deep down have your best interests in mind? There are common reasons for feeling this way, Jonice Webb, PhD, writes in her blog for PsychCentral.
- Lack of self-knowledge. How well do you know yourself? Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses, talents and challenges, preferences and tendencies? What do you want? What do you like? And why?
“Not knowing yourself deeply and well leaves you overly vulnerable to other people’s opinions,” Webb says. “It also leaves you with little to call upon when you need it. If you knew yourself well enough, when your wife gives you a specific critique, it’s OK. Because you know you have plenty of other strengths that make you good enough as a person even if you make a mistake.”
- Low compassion for yourself. Everybody makes mistakes, no exceptions. “It is what we do with those mistakes that matters,” Webb says. “When you have compassion for yourself, there’s a voice in your head that helps you think through criticism, take responsibility for your mistake while at the same time having compassion for your humanness.”
Webb calls this the Voice of Compassionate Accountability. It steps in when you receive criticism and talks you through it.
- Difficulty managing your feelings. When some of us hear criticism we are flooded by feelings of shame and anger, emotions that render us helpless at the moment.
- Lack of assertiveness. “Assertiveness is a skill,” Webb says. “It is the ability to speak your truth in a way that the other person can hear it.”
To be assertive you must first know what you feel and manage those feelings, as described in No. 3.
“When you’re aware of your anger you can listen to its message,” she says. “It may be telling you to speak up and protect yourself, and it is vital that you listen.
HOW TO REACT WELL TO CRITICISM
There are ways to get better control of your emotions and learn to take criticism more constructively, Webb says:
“Begin to work on thinking of criticism in a new way: like someone’s opinion, which may or may not be true, and may or may not be useful to you. You can realize that criticism is often a useful and valuable way to become a stronger and better person.
“You can start to pay more attention to the best source of strength, purpose, connection, validation and direction available to you – your feelings.”