Ever received the wrong package at the door? Receiving a message from someone whether in person or via text or another method is similar to receiving a package. There is a messenger and a recipient. All messages don't get sent to the right recipients. Some messages are laced with insecurities, fears, concerns, or worries.
Criticism is often experienced as destructive, and other words used interchangeably to describe critiques are put downs, feedback, advice, or negativity.
Another metaphor utilized for criticism is noise. Tuning it out can work, but sometimes, it's so loud, we internalize it. Sometimes, it's too loud to just let go of. Yet, holding onto it can throw us off our game.
Some things to question or consider when confronting criticism:
Did I actually request it? Am I asking or did I send for the person providing feedback?
Who’s actually criticizing? Is this someone who’s opinion matters to me?
What’s the actual criticizing statement? Do they have the credibility to criticize or affirm me regarding that specific matter?
Can I filter out what I need? Is there something from this critique that I can utilize to help me? Can I use this feedback as fuel to keep going?
Is it the right information, yet am I experiencing an undesired feeling?Does the message trigger discomfort because I'm just not used to hearing it? Ever heard the phrase "Asking for a friend?" We will use this to not expose the truth that we desire to know the answers to what we are asking or to cover up a need of our own. We'll also use that phrase to soften the blow that can come with hearing the truth.
Is the person projecting a need instead of clearly communicating one? Is the intent of the criticizer to deflect from exposing themselves from accessing information that they need? Does the messenger not know how or not feel safe to properly express that they need assistance navigating an issue that they are having?
Is the tone criticizing or is the statement criticizing?
Am I triggered by the tone or the statement? As Sarah Jakes Roberts (Pastor/Author/Phenomenal Woman) has previously expounded upon, Does it speak to an unresolved experience or a lie or underlying truth that I believe about myself? Triggers can lie dormant yet when awaken they can expose some internal self beliefs that need addressing.
Is this person upset because they haven't been a part of my process? Have I not given them permission to be a part of my behind the scenes development? Is their critique confirmation that I made the right choice in setting a boundary with them?
Is there another way I can ask for the person to communicate to me and provide me with necessary feedback?
As Brené Brown (Author/Researcher/Another Phenomenal Woman) shares often, we will receive criticism because we are the ones putting ourselves out there in the first place. The criticism may be sent by ones not putting themselves out there due to their own insecurities.
Being criticized can also develop our self-talk, be mindful of your inner critic voice, because the initial package may have never been meant for you in the first place. There's a different way we can send any message.
Criticism can be helpful for the messenger and the recipient, but it is up to each to see it as an opportunity. Each can ask the above questions to gain clarity and to access a newer level of growth and breakthrough.
What critique are you returning to sender? Why?
What critique are you keeping? What truths has it revealed to you?
It’s different when you have to be in environments as protected, boundaried, intentional, mindful, mature, aware, and wise; Places where you have to be buttoned up and in high self-control.
The spaces where you can’t just be you, but you have to be the evolved you; the "professional" you; the you that can't just...relax.
Evolving is not the concern, but it does take energy to carry that armor. There's a weight to growth. There's a weight to the titles you have. There's a weight to the roles you fulfill.
Imagine as a football player putting on your cleats, helmet, pads, mouth guard, chin strap, face shield, and any other piece of protection to prevent you from getting too hurt from hits, tackles, and barriers. Imagine wearing all of your equipment...
everywhere you go...
Sometimes, we just want to play and show up without all the armor on. My corner team get to see a side of me that people, who know me otherwise, may not get to see. It’s the part of me where I can experience lightness and ease, and not have to be present with assertiveness or show up with my intent and mind on my boundaries. I can just be...me.
We need a good balance of both. Balance doesn’t always mean equal. We need to go to certain places with armor on, and we need to have space spaces without it on, and still have peace and still have ourselves; To be in a space where we don’t have to communicate or be so mindful about the honoring of our boundaries, where lines are respected without effort...so we don’t have to walk around with armor on all day.