The other day I started writing a blog about the importance of accepting a compliment, something women find difficult. Well that day praise didn’t come my way, instead I got a dose of criticism. I recognized the irony of my situation right away. It was an important lesson that taught me that it’s crucial for us to learn how to accept criticism before we really can be open to accepting praise. It’s not until we do the work of growing from a critique that we can feel we have earned the right to receive the compliment.
First, I have to share how I personally differentiate between insults and criticism, because it’s how I decide how to react to them. An insult never produces anything good. It comes from a source of anger, dislike or, most often, jealousy. The intention is to tear you down and if you choose to accept it, it will be painful. Criticism, however, comes from a constructive place of compassion and is meant to make you stronger and produce positive growth.
These are the steps I take when I get a critique wrapped up in a bow with my name on it.
1. Recognize who’s dishing it.
This is critical. You must know that the person giving it cares for you and that their intentions are to help you grow. Often the person dishing it is nervous, which comes from the fear of how you’re going to react to what they are about to share. They love you and don’t want to hurt you. Sometimes their words can come out angrily but then they soften, and immediately you feel their compassion; you’ve probably experienced this with a parent, teacher or employer.
2. Sit back and soak it in.
When the words start coming at you, take them in and acknowledge the feelings that start coming up. If you really listen to your feelings then you will know if there is truth in the criticism. Personally, my critique hit me hard, and as I listened embarrassment and sadness washed over me. That’s how I knew this was something I had done that I wasn’t proud of. It was necessary for me to hear this to help me make a positive change.
3. Say “thank you.”
Why? Because it takes a very special person in your life to tell you something that is difficult for them to say, in order to help you be better. In other words, a criticism is a gift as long as you choose to receive it. Without the gift you would be stuck in the same place and mindset, embarrassing yourself around others who don’t yet love you enough to help you make the change.
4. Show up and get to work.
First you heard it and then you felt it, so now it’s time to put it in action. And when you do magic happens, I promise. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to pretend you’re Harry Potter and throw out a powerful “Expecto Patronum” spell. But seriously……
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