Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. The purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome.
I understand this definition, but why is it so difficult for me to accept? Growing up and well into my adult years I have had a low self-esteem and therefore react to any type of criticism. My reactions are the ‘fight’ in the ‘fight or flight’ response. Criticism of any type, to me is a threat or attack to my self-esteem that in the past was beaten down by me. From a very young age, I punished myself for not being a good person, I degraded myself, I abused myself and I belittled myself. I criticized myself for not being a good person.
With help through therapy, support from others and myself changing my way of thinking; it has taken me decades to overcome this self-criticism, this low self-esteem. But I still have difficulty receiving good and bad criticism from others. I feel threatened, for that person with the low self-esteem continues to exist; he is just kept to a murmur in my brain and not allowed to control me any longer. The threat from criticism is the fuel that will ignite the murmur to once again take control of me and try to defeat once again.
My conscience mind will not allow the murmur to ignite, so I fight the criticism, just not with a good positive approach. What will it take for me to accept criticism and not react in a ‘fight’ response? I know patience is required; then there is the ‘Golden Pause’, from listeningpays.com –
“I put my foot in my mouth.” “I should have bit my tongue.” “Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut? “
Any one of these self-statements points to one of the most simple and powerful listening tools being violated….the GOLDEN PAUSE. It is such a simple thing to do, yet it requires tremendous amounts of self-discipline to make it a practice.
I do try to attempt the ‘Golden Pause’ as much as possible. I am practicing this when criticism comes my way – stop, wait, cool down, and do not use the ‘fight’ response.
Remind myself bad criticism is just words and they cannot hurt me – remind myself constructive criticism is just words and they can help me.