When we decide to live according to the values that are important to us, we’re going to make some changes. We’re going to look at our situations and think creatively for new paths. That’s when the onslaught of negative feedback begins. Here are a few facts:
- Being creative draws critics.
- Criticism is never fun.
- If we don’t learn to handle criticism, we’ll never reach our potential.
So, lets look into this criticism thing together. Yes, I’m still learning, but here are a few tips I’ve picked up from years of study:
Consider the Source. What is this person’s agenda? What does he have to gain or lose by what you are doing? I see this principle discussed regularly in weight loss literature, debt reduction books, addiction seminars, and other areas that deal with breaking a cycle. People are used to having us a certain way. When we make changes in our lives, we force people to look at their own lives, and they may not like what they see. Before you take to heart what others are saying, consider all the personal reasons they may have for giving you this feedback.
Determine What’s Really Being Said. Sometimes criticism is simply a cover for a deeper message the person can’t express. A while back I met with a woman who wanted to give me feedback on a recent talk I had made. After being grilled and critiqued for what seemed like forever, I realized the issue wasn’t anything in my speech. This woman was upset because she hadn’t been embraced by a certain group the way she wanted. She never said this openly, but after listening to her for over an hour, the message was clear. If I had gotten upset and only heard her criticism, I would have never understood her real heartache.
Focus on the Message, Not the Messenger. Sometimes the message we most need to hear comes from a person we’d most like to tune out. Don’t fall into this trap. Once you’ve already done the first two steps, pause for a moment and see if there is truth in what is being said. If there is, take the message to heart. It’s so easy to disregard people who annoy us, but just because someone is irritating doesn’t mean he or she isn’t right. Be smart. Separate the personality from the pronouncement and work on the area in question.
Know Your Reasons. Books on building positive habits often start with this exercise: write down all the reasons why you want to change. That’s a good beginning, but it’s not enough. You need to know them by heart. Post them as reminders in easy to see places wherever it makes sense. Know them so well, you can be roused from a deep sleep and rattle them off. Make your reasons a part of how you think, and they will become a part of how you live.
Renew and Recharge. You can do all of these things and still find yourself struggling. When that happens it’s time to renew and recharge. One of my favorite ways is to listen to powerful music while doing something physical – exercising, housecleaning, digging up weeds in the yard. Here are a few of my top “keep going” songs:
Practical Living Tip of the Day: Put good things into your mind. You have too much to do to waste time with anything that is unworthy. …Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. – Philippians 4:8