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Being Judged – (Usually) being told / have implied there is something terribly wrong with your fundamental identity (Mother to daughter: “You’re not smart enough to become a doctor” / “You’ll be the death of me yet” …)
Having Good Judgement – deciding between an objective positive or negative alternative (that fruit is spoiled, I’ll take the fresh one / the left trail is safer than the right one….)
OR between something that personally suits you – or not (I’m allergic to sugar, so I avoid it / I regularly watch comedy shows but never horror flicks)
Being criticized – when a mistake in our behavior is pointed out – OR when our behavior or communication is not liked by the criticizer.
The critic may or may not add telling you how to do/say it correctly. But it is often done with anger, disdain, superiority – in order to control & manipulate.
In rare cases it’s done with caring & good will, if the person is healthy & you’ve agreed to learn from them
Given a suggestion – When we’re told of a better way of doing something – to make it easier or better for us, or our environment (“If you added an aspirin to the water, the flowers would last longer / When you travel, why not take less luggage?…”).
This is done with kindness, respect & from a genuine desire to make your life better
‘Negative’ Opinions: When someone says what they think or feel about something or someone – having nothing to do with the object of their criticism (I hate that hairdo / You’re doing that backwards / That’s no way to….. / they’re just stupid)
Being judged vs. legitimate criticism
The main difference is that judgmental comments are about the essence (being) of something or someone, & is generalized to the whole category (Blue is ugly, all men are pigs….) —
— while legitimate criticism is aimed at someone’s behavior (doing)(hitting your little sister is not OK & not allowed) or the state of something (that building is a mess, & needs a lot of repairs)
Children & wounded adults do not make the distinction between BE-ing & DO-ing. So – it’s imperative for ACoAs to ‘hear’ whether we’re being told something about our behavior (speech or actions) vs. our identity. Attacks on the latter is absolutely not acceptable, & healthy adults don’t stoop to this low blow (usually), nor will they tolerate it from others
ACoAs confuse criticism with abuse
Legitimate criticism is an ‘evaluation of the merits or weaknesses of an action, choice, decision, thought process….’ & at best used as a method of correction. It is NOT a de-valuation of our whole being or identity! as ACoAs believe.
We confuse or blend the two because:
a. In the past – our family almost always judged & misjudged, attacked & humiliated us. There was little or no balance provided: no praise, encouragement or patience – when we couldn’t do something – the first time, or perfectly – without guidance or when we were too young
b. Now, having absorbed the original abuse into our PP, it’s become the essence of our S-H. So any ‘disapproval’, slight or even a correction from others is taken as a personal indictment
OUR confusion, because of a Double Bind: (see ACoAs’ D.Message)
— on the one hand we agree with them: any time others are not positive & supportive, S-H flares up because it mirrors what our PP has been saying/ implying all along, AND what the WIC believes as absolute truth.
— on the other hand we’re resentful: we hate the person who hurt our feelings, or makes us feel disrespected…. We’re depressed or rageful, BUT on our high-horse, thinking “Who do they think they are saying that to me, judging me, ignoring me?” ….
We ruminate about what we should have said, what we will say or do to get back at them, that we’ll get them to see how wrong they were, wanting to justify ourselves to them….. we go round-&-round, digging our hole even deeper, getting nowhere.
NEXT: Criticism (Part 2)