not something we usually want to wake up to, but it is the stuff of exercising our adaptive capabilities. Through conflict we make choices that forge who we are at that moment in time, guiding us towards who we are to become. Criticism can appear like conflict and as such is stressful in which we are succeptable to interpret by overgeneralization (personal invalidation) and as an intolerable event (awfulization).

At its best, criticism enables us to see where we need to change and grow, a very helpful tool! Appropriate response goes a long way in saving face and seeing the opportunity instead of seeing shame; “You could be right,” “I’ll have to think about that,” “I appreciate your concern” diffuses the adversarial mode. Both the sender and receiver of the message can use this approach in the conversation,  “You appear very upset about this,” or mirror (without judgement) your critic’s emotional level.

 If you can hold a polite enquiring tone this response may be effective to move the conversation along: “Is there anything else about our relationship (my performance) that bothers you?”

Fallible? Not Me! 

Accept that we are all fallible so take criticism in stride. Failure is a result – not a state of being – nor a prediction of the future. Do not let it affect your feelings abut yourself. Everyone experiences criticism, rejection and failure. Avoid self-defeating thoughts. Redirect frustration energy with exercise.

Take time to analyze and challenge the validity of your own perspective in a healthy outdoor environment.

Social Assault

Change your perspective on social assault. Commit to change rather than anger. Let go of the self-punishment of guilt and commit to change. Avoid blaming. Avoid seeing all decisions as black and white. Do you see yourself as the cause of many negative events? Do you assume others are thinking negatively about you? Do you concentrate on a single negative detail and lose sight of all reality?

“If only” is our anger turned inward on ourselves. It is an uncreative focus of our anxieties, a self-destructive channel for fear, anger and guilt. We hurt ourselves before others do it for us. Short-circuit the self-accusing voice by proclaiming who you are, declaring a body of evidence that supports your best interests. The manipulative accuser’s power to punish makes the target depressed, anxious, often pushed to drink alcohol or do drugs, unproductively worry and ultimately give up what they really want for safety and security. A dream is dashed before it is fully formed.

Choose acts, such as prayer and reading scripture which affirm who you can become and which affirm you right now, to sabotage unhealthy responses to guilt and from punishing yourself by skipping a relaxing entertainment. 

Reward ritual:

Do not overlook the good things you do or your positive attributes. Imprint pleasant memories. Make a list. Call upon your “joy triggers” – a memory, family gathering, receive good news, winning a prize, a smell, music, a view, a gift…. Incorporate the most meaningful into your life.

Paradox – an Alternate Way of Being

Thoughts, ideas, concerns, feelings come together in a healthy way when we are at ease with ourselves. Complexities, contradictions and paradoxes cease to drain us of our inner resources. You cannot love others if you cannot love yourself. The tool of judgement you use on yourself will be the tool you use on others. Cultivate a benign, more friendly and more tolerent self interest. Paradoxically you will become more available to others.

Observe yourself. Discover who you are to sort out image and expectation from reality and desire. Learn to distinguish the truth about ourselves and not the distortions about reality. Look at your anger to understand its source, instead of wasting time feeling guilty about this powerful emotion.

Self-examination helps us to abandon other people’s goals and dreams as our own which keep us from our authentic selves. Other people’s expectations distract us from exercising our gifts. We cope with inner resources better when we are not factoring other people’s lives and expectations. Use your intelligence, skills, and assertiveness to work for you. Become the person you truly dream of being.

What do you want changed in your life? What gives your life meaning? What do you want to be? To do? Write for yourself a personal mission statement as a road map to help guide you to your lifelong goals.