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How to Accept Feedback Rather Than Letting it Break You

My journey from hating criticism of any form (including what someone deemed "constructive") to loving and seeking out feedback.

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

It used to be that when my husband or a friend would mention any way that I could improve (no matter how small), I would get offended or defensive.

Seriously. I couldn’t take criticism, no matter how nicely it was delivered.

I felt like it was a blow to my ego. A knife to my heart. Like salt in my wounds.

Simple comments like, “Mom, where are my socks?” or “Honey, can you please get your hair cut, it just looks better short.” or “Hey, could you not laugh so loud?” were all things that I took personally.

Somehow I interpreted these things as “Mom, you just aren’t very good at doing laundry.” or “I’m just not attractive if I don’t do my hair the way HE likes.” Or “If my laugh offends you that much, maybe we just shouldn’t hang out anymore.”

For years I felt like a victim to every single little thing people would say about me. I was never good enough. Never smart enough. Too loud. Too quiet. Not happy enough, etc.

Everything was always either someone else’s fault, or something that I would get offended about.

All of that changed when I learned one simple truth:

What we believe about ourselves is always going to be mirrored back to us by the people and things in our lives.

Thus when others give us feedback or constructive criticism, we interpret it in a way that mirrors back to us what we truly believe about ourselves.

I found that the common denominator sabotaging all of my relationships was ME. My lack of self-love and belief in who I was capable of being, were literally making me act like a crazy person.

I’d yell, fight back, or clam up and cease to converse with loved ones BECAUSE I didn’t feel good about myself.

I’d claim they were lying OR beat myself up internally about what they said, because it revealed to me the lack that I believed was there.

I’d blame them for my lack of love and confidence.

However, I have learned that self-love and confidence are not things that only a few select souls are born with.

No, they are skills that we can and should cultivate!

Each of us are born into this world with loads of love and confidence. We love the skin we are in and feel joy to be alive.

Somewhere along the way we lose that acceptance of ourselves and get caught in the comparison trap.

We look at others and see all their impressive characteristics and abilities and forget that we too have someone amazing inside of us.

Our inner beauty begins to dim as we hide behind masks of who we think we should be in order to fit in. We accept the labels given to us from teachers, parents, religions and society. We learn that we are not good enough.

Somehow it is okay for us to feel those labels and get down about ourselves, but when someone else gives us those labels or suggests a better way to be, our ego gets mad. It fights back and wants to prove that person wrong.

It only does that however, when we secretly and subconsciously believe what that person is saying to us (or what we interpret they are saying).

After years of developing my self-love and learning how to be confident again, I have noticed that rather than getting offended by what others say or think about me, I now seek out their opinions.

I want to learn how to become better. I ask them for advice on how I can improve. I see that their comments were never meant to hurt me, but to help me. I use their opinions and suggestions to grow and blossom into who I was born to be. Instead of seeing their words as daggers to my heart, I accept them (or reject them without offense) as something to use for my personal development.

Just as any good college professor will give you edits to make a paper become even better, often our friends, family, and colleagues are simply trying to help us out. They are mirroring to us the potential that we have and what we truly believe about ourselves.

Let’s learn to welcome their advice and use it to help us grow! It makes life so much better when we do.

Love and accept who you are and the feedback you receive will be helpful rather than hurtful.

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