My whole life I have been terrified of receiving criticism. It’s almost as if, when people criticized me they knew I wasn’t perfect and I was going to hear it from them! “I can see all of your insecurities and how sh***y you are and I am going to yell at you for it!” Like, they knew me better than I knew myself and that this criticism would define me. This criticism meant that I was inherently bad and wrong.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty. Let me clarify. There are different types of criticism. There is criticism that is offered by bullies or people intending to be mean and harmful with the words they say. Often times, these insults say more about them than they do about you. But when a criticism is offered as a way to show you how to become a better you, you’re on the right track. Never confuse the two and always do your due diligence to make sure that someone is not just trying to bully you. Bullies aren’t always some stocky, mean kid at school. Bullies are everywhere. Sometimes they can be family members or even “friends.” They could be your supervisor at work. They can be everywhere. It’s very possible that we’re just so used to being spoken to a certain way that we don’t realize we’re being bullied. Again, do your research on the different types of criticism and try to identify when someone is speaking to harm you and not to constructively criticize.
Back to the nitty-gritty: During this time of radical change in my life, I have had to accept many ugly truths about myself. I have had to recognize that more often than not I can be: lazy, procrastinate-y, selfish, and cold. I often make excuses for myself and I don’t take responsibility for my actions. Well, that is, I used to be that way. It wasn’t until I started admitting these ugly “truths” about my actions that I was able to recognize that they were only keeping me from a happier me. Sure I liked binge watching Shameless. Did I like it enough to sacrifice my happiness? No. Did I want to surf Facebook more that I wanted to visualize myself being successful? Yes. But I always left the latter feeling better than I did before.
I recognized that being open to admitting my faults was where true change and happiness could grow. I had to think to myself, “This is keeping me small. I need to let it go and do the things I have been told will bring me happiness.” I didn’t change overnight. I have already tried that. I was left completely burnt out and filled with guilt more often than not. So, I started to admit one painful truth about myself every day. Small steps. This was suggested to me in the book written by Maxwell Maltz called Psycho-Cybernetics. It has been a crucial part in building and repairing my self-esteem and I highly suggest it to anyone that struggles with self-love.
Being open to criticism from yourself and from others is a truly liberating experience. Now, when someone criticizes something I do or say, or points out that I am “playing” myself or lying to myself, I think about it. I mull it over, and I don’t internalize it. I see it as something that is part of my human experience. I no longer sit in guilt or punish myself for the mistakes I make. My friend put it in words that really changed my perspective, “When someone tells me something I don’t want to hear about myself, I just put that s*** on a plate and eat it up.” That’s what you gotta do. You use that ugly “truth” as a way to make you stronger. Don’t ever allow words to keep you from growing. Just eat that s*** up, make some adjustments, and keeping moving forward. You won’t get it right every time, and that is okay. You deserve to be happy anyway.
People can recognize when someone is serious about being a better human. I challenge you to look at the ways you tell yourself lies. Do you know you’re not supposed to be watching Netflix and that you should be cleaning? Do you know you should go say “sorry” to your mom but you’re being prideful? Do you know that you should be checking up on your friend but you’re being selfish? Just take those small steps. They’ll turn into noticeable differences. And the next time someone criticizes you or something you’ve made, notice it, take it into consideration, and also remember that it does not make you bad. It just makes you human.
-The Curvy Broke Girl