ACoAs – Dealing with CRITICISM (Part 3)

taking criticism 

 Criticism (Part 2)

SITE:  “How to give Constructive Criticism

<—- Art by Leo360WalfasMix

Getting VALUE out of Criticism

Whatever the style of communication ‘sent’, remember you’re not responsible for what others say, but only for how you react. Using our Adult ego state, we can have our internal feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, confusion…. but it’s more self-esteeming if we don’t express anger & cause a scene. If we challenge the other person, it may escalate into an unnecessary & possibly damaging argument

Ultimately, if the criticisms are in fact judgmental, attacking our character, controlling, manipulative…. then it’s wisest to walk away, or be very brief in our response (See “Effective Responses” & “Useful, Clever responses”)

Suggestion 😣: No matter what – it’s not empowering to defend our position, over-explain or try to ‘make them see’…. which all comes from the WIC. (see ‘ACoAs & Anger’ post). This is especially important when dealing with family, a mate, friend or boss – if those people are in the habit of being emotionally abusive.

However, if the person offering criticism is reasonably fair-minded & genuinely wants to be helpful, you can :
1. Think of the criticism as a ‘suggestion’ rather than a condemnation or a command. Consider what you’ve been told carefully, thinking it over & looking at it from different angles.
KEEP in MIND: If you’re having a rage or S-H reaction you’ll need to process that first (in 2-handed writing, therapy, Program….).

ASK yourself:Self diagnosos
• is the criticism accurate & I’m ashamed of being exposed?
• is it similar to what I heard a lot growing up?
• is the ‘thing’ being criticized related to a deep need or longing in me?
• is my criticized behavior the result of my damage, or a disability (ADD, dyslexia), because of a recent trauma, a change in meds?…..

OR are you being actually misjudged & you just want to kill?  NOW, ACoAs tend —
• to get enraged when accused wrongly – as kids no one took our side or want to hear our explanation of reality, there was no justice…. AND
• we feel terrified when accuse rightly! because as kids we got severely punished, often unfairly, in a way which left us deeply alone, nor did we don’t get help to learn what we did wrong & how to correct it!

2. With due consideration, decide if you agree with the critic’s ideas.
a. If you do not agree, either wholly or in part, take the time to form your reasons, based on intuition, experience & positive information. You may or may not choose to express this to your critic, depending on how important it is to your well-being or to your work, & depending on whether the person is dangerous or not – to your livelihood or health

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISMb. If you do agree, hopefully you’ll have dealt first with any negative fallout from you WIC or PP. No one can be perfect – it’s not human! Agreeing with the other person is not an admission of failure or worthlessness!

• Consider how you can apply the offered suggestion to your communication or actions.  Whatever you choose to change must be suited to your personality, abilities & current circumstances.
• Once you’ve made a change, note how it has helped or hindered you. Was it a good, neutral or bad outcome? How does it feel?
• If one revision didn’t work very well, don’t give up. Try others.

Double check:
• is there any reality to what I’m being told? If you’re not sure, ask someone else – who is safe & trustworthy 
– did the ‘sender’ provide any alternatives? Were they useful?
•  if there is some truth in it, am I interested in making a change?
• is the ‘sender’ simply telling me about themselves – nothing to do with me? Or are they seeing me clearer than I can see myself?evaluating
• if I think they may have a point, do I have the courage to ask for more information & suggestions?
• if I don’t agree with the criticism, can I keep my ‘center’ & either not say anything, or just say thanks & drop it?

ACoAs have a hard time knowing the difference between the + & – kind. In either scenario always try to remember that you can use criticism to your advantage.

REVIEW posts:‘What to do when confused” // “Victims or not?
What just happened?” // “Noticing Painful Events” //
Positive Responses to Painful Events 1-5” // “Actions – Healthy opposites

NEXT: ACoAs Being Negative #1

ACoAs – Dealing with CRITICISM (Part 2)

being criticized


 Criticism (#1)

SITE:  “Varieties of criticism”(Aesthetic, Moral, Practical….)


Any form of criticism challenges our thinking, behavior or skill, so it’s normal to feel uncomfortable.
When we are dealing with actual criticism (not just when feeling judged, nor when our essence is being attacked, but rather just a comment about our ideas or actions), we need to understand what we’re hearing.
Is it legitimate vs. negative ‘feedback’? Are the comments constructive or destructive?

1. Are we receiving:
Hurtful criticism? This is most likely a form of thoughtlessness, not consciously meant to injure, but can nevertheless be insulting & insensitive. It’s usually ‘perpetrated’ by garden-variety narcissists who are simply expressing their point of view, as if it’s a given that others will see the world in the same way. (“That’s a stupid thing to say” // “I can’t believe you didn’t know that”…..).
They’re generally unaware of their effect on other people’s emotions & sensitivities, since only their own feelings & ideas are real to them

Destructive criticism? This type is a direct attack on someone, generally given with the intention to harm, belittle & destroy their creationcriticism, prestige, reputation &/or self-esteem. It’s malicious & hurtful without adding any suggestions for growth or improvement. It’s meant to show that the person or object has no worth or validity, so no practical advice or consideration is included. Naturally, this can do a lot of damage, & in some cases trigger verbal or physical retaliation.

While anyone is capable of this kind of attack – occasionally, & under great stress – here we’re talking about people who use this style as their main way of communicating about anything they don’t like or don’t approve of.

They are generally the angry & controlling narcissists, who may or may not acknowledge other person’s feelings, but don’t care. They want everyone to be like them & can’t stand anything that isn’t. Under the facade of superiority they’re deeply insecure, so bringing others down boosts their False Self, & temporarily satisfies their ego.
EXP: “You’re wrong. You’re always wrong! // You shouldn’t dance – you’ll just embarrass yourself // You have lousy taste”……

2. OR are we being offered:
• Constructive criticism? This type also points out faults, but without attacking the person’s identity, AND can includes practical advice on how something can be corrected. That way the Receiver can choose to improve – but only if they agree with the solution AND if it suits their personality.

Often using gentler language, constructive criticism aims to help the Receiver do better in the future, by kindly suggesting what to work on, & without being controlling (as in “do it my way or you’re stupid”). Therefore, it allows the Receiver to have a choice.

EXP: “Your painting looks nice. Would you consider adding brighter colors?” // Your Math grades would improve if you let a tutor help // Practice keeping your back straight so you’ll feel stronger & more confident….”

HOW something is said is just as important as what. Suggestions & alternatives are offered without the Sender being superior, manipulative, insistent – or superior as if only they have ‘the answer’.  This usually makes it easier to accept, even if it still hurts a little.
As a Sender:
📌 FIRST, be sure it’s appropriate to put your 2 cents in
◆ if you feel the need to tell someone a harsh truth, be sure it’s not offensive
◆ make it clear that it’s your personal taste, & just your opinion – even if it’s based on first-hand knowledge or hard-won experience
◆ if you’ve tried your best to be respectful, but it’s still taken badly, then it’s not your responsibility to fix their hurt feelings or pride

senderof criticismAs a Receiver:
a. If you get negative criticism you can say
• “Thank you for sharing”
• “Ouch, that hurt, now say it nicely”
•  just shake your head, change the subject or walk away.
Do NOT get into a fight or try to convince them they’re wrong. It never work.  If the comment is simply not relevant to who you are – just say “Thanks for the info” & move on

b. If you get helpful / constructive criticism:
❥ always take it positively. Think about it & if it applies, use it to grow. Remember that anyone willing to be careful in how they talk to you are reasonably healthy, & likely care about you as well, so take it as a sign of good will or love.

NEXT: Criticism (Part 3)

ACoAs – Dealing with CRITICISM (Part 1)

being judged 

PREVIOUS: Helpful/clever responses

SITE: ”7 Realizations to Help You Deal with Feeling Judged




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 themcriticism styles

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 (usabuse vs criticismually), 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.

When someone points out what they consider to be our imperfections – even when it’s only their opinion or projection – we feel exposed & worthless, endlessly obsessing about what we did wrong

— 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)