Prompts: “My life is a reality show”. Write characters, plot, the set, and why people should watch. Or Advice for dealing with negative feedback.
“Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Does anymore else remember this little poem from their childhood? My Granny used to instruct us to speak these words to bullies. I can remember thinking even then… words do hurt. And as I became an adult, words become even more powerful. The words spoken by others can either build you up or tear you down.
And there are always people waiting in the wings to offer their thoughts on you, your life, and your choices. Seemingly, no matter what you do, someone is going to find fault. Take me for example….
In college, when I gained the freshman 15 and then some, I had friends who told me I looked gorgeous with my new curves while others whispered behind my back that I’d let myself go. When I lost the 15 pounds I had gained plus another 30, there were those who applauded my new body while others told me I looked skeletal or sick (side note: At this point, I did look skeletal. But I am using their words to contrast with those who praised me). And finally, when I kicked my eating disorder to the curb, and learned how to live a healthy lifestyle, I was met with even more flack.
“What do you mean you don’t want to eat fried chicken?”
“You are crazy to be running. Who in the right mind would subject themselves to that?”
“You are a girl…if you lift heavy weights you’ll look like a guy.”
These comments and the hundreds of others that I’ve heard over the past 4 years could have gotten under my skin. I could have let those negative words seep into my mind and lived paralyzed by the fear of more criticism. But I didn’t because I have learned how with the negative feedback that I often encounter.
- Stop and listen. When someone starts to criticize me, my first instinct is to become defensive. While they are going on and on about what I am doing wrong, I am formulating a comeback in my head. But if I stop and actually listen to their words, I might find that in amongst all the negativity there is advice that I can use to make myself better.
- Assess the criticism and not the source. I step back from the situation and think thru it as if I was observing another person’s life. If my sister/mother/father was doing what I am being criticized for, would I have the same thoughts as the person criticizing me? If so, I view the criticism as constructive and incorporate the advice. If not, I ignore the critic and move forward.
- Avoid the big critics. There have been a few people in my life who always found fault with my choices. Nothing I did was right or good enough. Rather than try to please these people, I simply ended our relationships. Perhaps, it is not possible to completely eliminate a critic from your life (i.e. mother/father) but you can limit you interactions with them. If you are not around the person, they won’t have an opportunity to criticize you.
- Remember that the criticism is just a person’s opinion. My father was right. Some people will applaud you at the same time others boo you. Just remember whether it is praise or criticism it is just that person’s opinion. And the only opinion that truly matters is your own. If you are happy, then move forward. If not, look at how you can change the situation and do it.
How do you deal with negative feedback in your life?