Back in the day I had an extreme fear of criticism.
A fear that became so overwhelming that I could barely leave my apartment to face the world.
I remember not being able to walk into department stores or drop off my resume at restaurants because I was terrified of the criticism I might face.
I would literally stand outside of a restaurant with my resume in my hand paralyzed by wild “what if” scenarios that ran through my head.
What if when the hostess looks at my resume and sees how little experience I have she turns to me and says, “You stupid bitch. Who do you think you are applying here?”
What if the manager comes out and takes one look at me and says, “Are you kidding me? You’re not tall enough to work here stupid. Get the hell out!”
The intense pain and insecurity I felt on a constant basis kept me trapped in a world that I wanted to escape.
It wasn’t until I made the connection between being an Adult Child of An Alcoholic (ACOA) and my unhealthy fear of criticism, that I was able to face my issues.
Which is exactly what I’m covering today: 5 Ways To Soothe The Sting Of Criticism.
Whether you’re an ACOA or not, if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the fear of criticism, today’s post is for you.
After you’ve checked it out, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.
How do you deal with criticism? Do you avoid it? Do you get defensive? Do you have any irrational fears about criticism that keep your world small?
Remember – in this community – your opinion, experiences and insights matter. And you never know who’s going to be inspired by what you share.
Thanks for reading!
I’ll see you next Tuesday. The first day of March. Yikes!!
#1 Meet Criticism At The Root
To properly deal with your fear of criticism you’ve got to meet it at the root.
That means you work your mental buns off to understand where your fear is coming from and why you react the way you do.
Before I realized that I was an ACOA, I had no idea that my reactions to criticism were rooted in the conditioning of my childhood.
I had no idea that every time I crumbled in the face of criticism that I was reacting to and reenacting some twisted moment from my youth.
Once I understood the root of my issues, and I started to map out my behavioral biography, I was able to deal with my fear of criticism in healthy ways.
Realizing the roots of my behavior has been the most important factor in my recovery. That’s why I highly recommend, especially if you’re an Adult Child Of An Alcoholic, that you learn everything you can about what it means to be an ACOA.
Getting to the root of your behavior will change your world. And if you want my help getting to the root of yours, then check out my FREE, online, self-study, mini-course,
#2 Everyone Shows Up With Their Own Shizz
The next time you get tossed up and twisted over criticism I want you to remember this,
Everyone shows up to life with their own shizz.
That means everybody has their own baggage, issues, misconceptions, preconceptions, judgements, hangups and insecurities.
So it’s more than likely that when someone criticizes you, especially if it’s down right dirty, it has zero to do with you.
To really help you get this concept I thought I’d shared a bit from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements.
On not taking things personally – he says,
Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Now. When you get this concept. I mean when you really get it, it will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
For example. Growing up my mom was hyper critical. And every criticism she threw my way, I owned it. I took it on as if the words had fallen right from my own mouth.
And it wasn’t until I realized that her issues were long in play before I was even born that I could see her criticisms had nothing to do with me.
They weren’t a reflection of me and my flaws, they were all about her. The way she viewed herself, the world, her relationship – everything.
Learning to apply this concept isn’t something that just happens it takes practice. One way to kick off your practice is to begin with yourself. That’s right. Because if we’re going to be honest here we all criticize. So, the next time you catch yourself criticizing someone, even if it’s within the privacy of your own head – get curious. And ask yourself where that criticism is coming from.
Is it truly a reflection of the other person or is there something deeper going on with you?
# 3 You’ve Handled Worse
If you grew up with parents that were addicts or alcoholics, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve seen a side of life that most people haven’t.
You learned to fear the worst possible outcome because it usually happened. When I was growing up I feared physical violence because it was a daily occurrence in my house.
Like most kids growing up in dysfunctional environments you were probably used to being berated, criticized and put down by the people in your life that were supposed to be protecting you.
There’s nothing worse than having your own mother or father reject you. The emotional and psychological pain it leaves behind can take a lifetime to repair.
And this is what you need to remember the next time someone criticizes you. If you survived your own mother or father picking you apart then you can handle the clowns and fools of life.
Really. What could a co-worker, a roommate or a random on the street ever say to you that could really break you if you’ve handled worse? Think about that.
And the next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel fearful of someone’s criticisms, repeat this mantra,
I’ve been called worse by people that have meant more.
#4 What’s The Price You Pay?
The fear of criticism kept me from excelling in school, promotions at work, expressing myself, speaking up for myself and from going after what I truly wanted in all areas of my life.
When you give the fear of criticism power your world shrinks dramatically.
Every time you give into that fear you’re paying with it with your life, your truth, time, talents, abilities and energy.
Bottom line is this – the fear of criticism will keep your world small. And no matter what you do with your life you are going to face some criticism.
Yes it’s true that some of it will not be worth your time but some of it will also be constructive.
Which leads me right in to tip #5
#5 Criticism Is A Lot Like Cow Poop
Cow poop is stinky, brown and it’s not something you’d be excited to step in.
But in addition to being fowl, cow poop also comes with benefits.
According to ecovillage.org, cow poop makes a great natural fertilizer, has natural anti-bacterial properties and recent studies have found that cow poop has naturally occurring mood enhancing agents.
I know you’re probably thinking what on earth does this have to do with criticism. Well just like cow poop, criticism has good and not so good qualities.
The right kind of criticism, the kind coming from someone that has your back and wants to see you succeed, can help you improve and actually beef up your self-esteem.
By fearing all forms of criticism, you could be blocking yourself from the insights you need to grow.
It doesn’t mean that the criticism won’t sting but at least it won’t smell as funky as cow poop!