Or, when criticism comes do you feel like hiding?
When a person feels valued, they are more likely to be open and receptive to what is said to them.
Have you ever been in the position where someone is giving you some well-meaning advice? Perhaps that advice is sorely needed (making mistakes and needing guidance is a normal part of human life). Perhaps you don’t actually need the advice but they are the type of person who has an innate need to give it to you anyway.
How do you respond when that advice is given?
Do you nod your head in appreciation of their wise thoughtful comments?
Do you give them the impression that you are listening, giving careful consideration to their thoughts whilst internally screaming at them to, “Shut up!”
Do you tell them what you think?
Are you so used to hearing well-meant suggestions and criticism that you doubt your ability to effectively deal with the scenario or activity at hand?
Have you been in the reverse situation where you have been giving a friend, colleague or family member some sound advice? How have they responded?
Being able to give advice or constructive criticism is a valuable skill to have in life. No one likes to hear they are doing something badly. Imagine a teacher who tells a pupil that they work hard, their spelling could be better but the imaginative story lines they come up with are great. That teacher will likely get a more positive response from the child than the one who only points out the spelling errors.
I once heard a statistic that for every positive comment a child hears, they hear ten negative ones. That is not just from teachers but parents, family, friends, strangers, the world. Is it not surprising that their eyes glaze over when we point out they would have a fully charged phone if their room was tidy enough to find the charger in the first place!
Just stop and think for a moment. Who in your life (real or imagined/fictional) are you most likely to listen to what they say, receive it and then weigh it up to see if it applies to you in your situation? What were they like? How did they treat you? How did they speak to you?
I am guessing that they are someone who listened to you, would have heard your opinion and, most importantly, communicated that you are a valuable person.
Why not spend a little time imagining the “perfect” characteristics that would allow you to be receptive to advice that is being offered. That doesn’t mean that the advice given is correct but that you can hear it, consider it and weigh up whether it is appropriate and then feel free to act as you choose.
Having spent some time thinking about how you would like to be advised, spend some time contemplating the other side of the coin and how you could better communicate ideas to others.
As an aside to all this; if you are someone who does not love or respect yourself it is hard to love and respect others. Struggling with self-hate and self-name-calling sabotages our ability to live life to the full and affects our relationships with others. Learning to love and respect yourself is not about becoming selfish or self-centred, it is about becoming self-aware and learning how to grow as a person and setting yourself free from yourself.
Just as a child will often hear ten negative comments for every single positive, the same was probably true for you when you were a child. These words are “graffiti” written on our hearts and can become incorporated into our identity. The good news is that they don’t have to stay there!
If you would like to explore more, then please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Newcastle Counselling, helping you to explore wherever you are on your person journey.