Do you feel hurt because someone has criticized you? Are you unsure on how you should react towards the person who has criticized you? To help learn how to overcome criticism and how to deal with the person who criticized you, I have interviewed therapist Steve McCready, LMFT.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I’m a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a private practice in Sacramento, California. I specialize in helping people improve their relationships, especially those who are ‘too nice’ and have difficulty standing up for themselves in their personal and work relationships.”
What type of impact can criticism have on a person’s overall life?
“Criticism can be very damaging if one allows it to be. The old cliche ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’ isn’t necessarily true. We’ve learned that the same part of the brain that is triggered by a physical attack is also triggered by criticism and other ’emotional’ attacks. The key is what you *do* with the criticism once you’ve received it.”
How can someone overcome criticism and not allow it to impact their life?
“Criticism can be constructive or destructive. The key to keeping criticism from having a negative impact on you is to examine it, rather than just internalizing it as fact. Constructive criticism can provide useful feedback that can help motivate and guide self-improvement. Destructive criticism, on the other hand, can be very damaging to one’s self-image and can lead to unhealthy relationships with a severe power imbalance. When I’m working with clients on dealing with criticism in healthy ways, the first thing I encourage them to do is to see if criticism they’ve received matches their self-image. If it does, then the question is whether the individual wants to make changes in that area, which can then become a focus of our work together. If the criticism does not match the individual’s self-image, though, then I encourage them to check with trusted friends to see if it matches their image of the individual or not. If not, then we work on helping the person to recognize it as an opinion instead of a fact, and use a review of facts to ‘disprove’ the criticism.”
Should a person ever confront the person who has criticized them? If so how who someone confront the person who criticized them?
I’d say it depends a lot on the sort of ongoing relationship the person who has been criticized wants with the person doing the criticizing. If it is an important person, such as a supervisor, co-worker, close friend, spouse, etc., then I think it may be important to confront the person making the criticism. In cases like that, I would encourage a fairly straightforward conversation in which the person who was criticized says what they experienced (both the facts of what was said, and the feelings that were experienced), as well as a request for change.”
What last advice would you like to leave for a person who has been impacted by criticism?
“It’s very important to be careful how much power you give others over you – and when you start treating their opinions as hard facts, you are giving them tremendous power over your sense of self and well-being. Having a clear set of values and principles to judge your actions and choices by as well as a trusted support system to get input from are key for being able to filter through criticism and make healthy use of it. If you find yourself experiencing hurt due to past criticism, working with a counselor or psychotherapist to address and resolve that pain can be a valuable first step on the road to healing.”
Thank you Steve for the interview on how to over come criticism. For more information on Steve McCready you can check out his website on www.counselingsacramento.com.
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