Don't let criticism in!
We’ve all experienced criticism, comments that cause us to think less of ourselves instead of loving who we are. The sick feeling of criticism can come from someone else or from within you, sucking you from that happy place where we should all be to a place that just doesn’t feel good. Some of you may even be stuck in personal relationships that thrive on criticism. We’ve lived through it, grown up with it, and, weirdly enough, some of us are still living with it, often unknowingly.
We live in a society that seems to run on criticizing. It’s everywhere—in our schools, workplaces, homes. I bet you’ve even caught yourself criticizing yourself or those you love at times, whether to their faces or behind their backs. What’s worse is those everyday harsh comments people direct your way, things like “You shouldn’t have cut your hair,” “The work you’ve done isn’t your best,” “That skirt isn’t flattering,” or “Geez, you’ve really put on a lot of weight.”
When someone says something critical to you, don’t let it in, don’t feed it, and don’t stoop to dishing it back, either. What you want to say is something like “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that. Can you repeat it?” Few people will. Try it! However, some people will double down and say something like “What I meant to say is I really don’t like that haircut. Your other one worked better,” or they might even elaborate on their criticism in more detail. If they do, just say, “Oh, it sounds like you’re trying to make me feel bad.” That alone can be enough to make people catch themselves and check their mouths before saying something to hurt you further.
The odd thing is that people who criticize, in a weird, twisted way, think they’re trying to help you. I’ve done it, and I think back and ask myself, Why would I say that? Even if someone were to come at you and say, “Hey, I hate you, and yeah, I really want you to feel terrible” (which I hope someone wouldn’t do, but personal relationships can bring the nasty out in people), you need to tell that person, “I’m not going to let that in. You can think what you want about me, but I’m not going to let that in.” Tell him or her, “It’s really sad. In being a critical person, you’re just showing me and everyone that you’re unhappy and dissatisfied with yourself.” Don’t be mean or sarcastic or even say, “How dare you!” When you do that, stoop to that, you’re letting the criticism in.
Having an autistic child and being a writer, I have often experienced criticism. In the early days when my child was diagnosed, I often had teachers, professionals, and other parents criticizing everything, and their criticisms were never the same. Some didn’t agree with early intervention, some said I had used the wrong method, and some said my being an advocate offended them. As a writer, too, I found those first critical reviews devastating. I had to develop a thick skin. I now have a lot of books up and a ton of reviews, many fantastic awesome ones that make my day and put a smile on my face, but there are those horrible mean ones that still linger, along with people in my community who don’t get what a parent of a child with autism goes through. But my life experiences have taught me and made me realize that I wouldn’t want to be those people sitting at home, writing or saying mean stuff. So I choose not to let it in. At one time, I did, and it was devastating, but I do not anymore.
It really is a work in progress, lifting your own awareness and not being critical, not letting criticism in.