Encouragement Part 3 Changing Criticism the Comes from Hurt and Embarrassment
Despite the fact that parents and administrators and well, just about all us, rely heavily on criticism as the main tool in trying to get other to change, the research has consistently shown that it is completely ineffectively. About one in ten people can use criticism constructively. What happens to the rest, to the 80-90% when we are criticized or put down?
Criticism, whether it is written or spoken, focuses the attention of the one that it is directed to on mistakes, weaknesses, what is wrong. The positive intention of the one doing the criticizing, such as a teacher looking at a student’s writing project, is to improve the quality of work. It is hoped that all of the red marks will somehow make the person write better. It is perfectly logical to think in this matter except for one thing. What is that one thing that we do not understand about corrections? If you could understand this one thing, then it might be possible to give feedback that actually works. Most of us just repeat what was done to us. It didn’t work with us, but it is all we know, so we use it anyway.
The one thing that most of us do not understand is that when people are criticized, the ego, rather than the true or higher self, is the first to react to it. If we were more developed and were acting out of our higher selves, then we would rationally look at the criticism and then change what needed to be changed. But this rarely happens. What happens is that the ego responds in a negative matter. Generally it has one of two responses, but it can also react in other energies as well. The two responses are with either hurt or with embarrassment. They both put you in a highly dysfunctional space that makes you either hide away and avoid showing your work at all costs or spurns a fighting response that makes you angered and against the criticism. Either way you are in trouble.
Hurt occurs when you take the criticism personally. You take it into your heart rather than keeping it at a distance and looking at it rationally. It can feel like the person is stabbing you in the heart or pounding you down or running you over. As soon as it goes to the heart, whatever the positive intention was of the criticism, is now gone. The heart feels hurt, takes it personally, and then reacts negatively in behavior. Fixing or remedying hurt requires strengthening the heart or strengthening the love. When hurt is the response, then the person does not have a lot of love for the thing they are involved in. If you have a lot of love for what you are doing as in your heart is full of love for writing, then the criticism can be seen as helpful, you can keep it out at a distance, and decide what to do it with it.
From the point of view of the one receiving the criticism the important thing to do when you feel hurt from criticism is to work on your love for the activity, to open your heart more to it. If you are the criticizer and the person receiving the criticism feels hurt from the criticism, then your work is build love for the activity. And this explains why managers and parents and teachers rely so heavily on criticism. It is much easier to criticize than to build love for an activity. Building love requires a lot of creativity and resourcefulness, whereas criticism is just plain lazy.
What if the response is embarrassment? Embarrassment is different than hurt in that embarrassment makes you feel put down in a way that you probably should have done better. When your response is one of embarrassment, it means that your ability to do the thing you are trying to do is undeveloped. You are new at the capacity you are trying to build. Embarrassment makes you feel down about yourself or your ability which then usually spawns a hiding or fighting response inside. The message of embarrassment is that you are new at what you are trying to do.
If you are the one giving criticism and the person reacts with embarrassment, it means that they are new to the act. How you give feedback is very important. You should be giving at least 5 times as many positive comments as correcting ones. This is based on research. To just criticize is the lazy way. To encourage with positive comments and then precise and nurturing corrections is much more effective. 5 to 1.
If you are feeling embarrassment, then you need a really positive voice inside to remind you of your positive ability to learn and spur you on. You also need to recognize just how new you are to the learning.
Building a Positive Voice Inside
A positive voice inside your head is a gold mine. As was stated in other posts, the tendency for all of us, because our cultures are so ineffective and lazy, is to have negative and critical voices inside our heads. Here is a little step by step to begin the process. In the next post I will help you strengthen it even more.
- Go inside and listen to the person’s voice that has been the most negative in your life. Especially listen to the tones and volume and quality of their voice.
- Next find a voice inside of you or someone else. The voice should be extremely positive and opposite to the one that was so critical. For instance if the tone was harsh, you would want to pick a voice that is more nurturing and gentle. If it was loud, you would want a softer one with less volume.
- The reality for us is that the first voice is our default one. Default means that when we are under stress, it is the one that turns on. Most people have a negative and critical default voice. The goal of the exercise is to make the second voice the default one. It is going to take some practice, but it is definitely possible. Here’s how
- You can start with hearing the negative voice in your head, but at the same time your positive voice is standing by ready only turned off. You hear the negative voice.
- Then you begin to turn off the negative voice, and at the same time, turn on the volume of the positive voice. You will notice how instantly you feel so much better after you make the switch.
- Repeat this 3 to 4 times until you can begin to keep the positive voice permanently.
- After you have done it, try doing an activity like washing the dishes or another simple task with the positive voice. Notice how much easier it is to move to the task.
- Sometimes when there is a lot of trauma the voice will not last. This is just protection for you so that you will do the deeper work on the trauma. For most people having a positive voice as a default is a total gold mine.