You could be doing what seems to be a bang up job at the office. But one day, you get called in for something. Anything. And your world crumbles. That’s what happened to one of my readers who asked me to write about this topic. And it’s not just about the criticism. For her, it’s a feeling that she’s never quite measuring up in any area of life.
So, I’ve decided to break down what’s really happening when we get sucked in, overwhelmed and taken out by perceived criticism and how to fix it in three easy steps.
Let’s say you’re in a meeting at work and it gets a little heated. Shirley from sales is being a big jerk, questioning how you handled that phone call she only heard half of. Your mouth starts to dry up, your throat constricts and you feel a flush of red running from your legs to your face. Shit! You’re getting upset.
You mumble something that seems like a halfhearted defense. You’re having trouble coming up with something perfect to say. Mostly because you’re sitting there in shock that Shirley is calling you out in front of your boss. What the fuck?
Didn’t you just go to lunch with her last week? And pay for her sandwich? She’s got nerve! How long has she been plotting to take you out like this?
Why is she trying so hard to make you look incompetent?
“Jane?” Your boss interrupts your inner chat. “Do you have anything to say about this?”
You go numb. You can think of nothing other than how it would feel to give a round house throat kick to Shirley.
“Ummm, no, sir.” You stumble.
Shit! You blew it. Now you spend the rest of the day obsessing about that jerk Shirley and all the perfect things you could have said to her.
You replay the incident over and over hundreds of times.
The thing is, you can spend the drive home trying to figure it out, but this ain’t about Shirley.
#1 Name it to tame it.
What’s this bringing up? What’s this really about? How have you been triggered?
There is a core “go to” feeling that you have whenever someone criticizes you. For me it’s usually one of two.
Rejection. I feel Rejected in some way. Like someone is saying they don’t like me, want me around or approve of me
Incompetence. I believe that someone is underestimating my competence or questioning my ability to perform.
Your trigger feeling is a familiar feeling that’s been embedded somehow along your journey through LYF. (Learning to Love Yourself First).
Maybe you were a young child who had not so nice, abusive, or even controlling parents. If you did, you are definitely going to move through life with a high sensitivity to criticism. You will almost be hyper vigilant, on guard, waiting to be “”found out” and rejected somehow.
So, as you can imagine, a person on high who is hyper focused on avoiding criticism will surely find it.
And it could be minimal. Maybe it NEVER really happens. I could happen one time in 2 years at your job. But in that one time in 2 years, you could potentially feel like it’s been the whole time you’ve been there.
Why? Because your triggered state starts telling you lies. Then it asks you to search for more evidence of it being the truth.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you have a fear of looking incompetent. You know how to do your job extremely well. You get lots of feedback from your clients that they are pleased with the work you do.
Your boss doesn’t really seem to notice the good stuff. He mostly keeps to himself, except when something’s wrong.
Well, one day, you didn’t do things the way your boss expected you to. So, you get “talked to” about your performance.
Your TRIGGER gets activated and goes into a tornado effect. It starts small, gathers speed and sucks up everything in its presence.
You start with the questions:
“How long has he felt that I’m not doing a good job?”
“Doesn’t anyone around here know how hard I work?”
“Who does he think he is, telling me how to operate? He’s not doing a good job himself!”
“I wonder how long he’s been wanting to tell me this?
“Shit! I wonder if they want to get rid of me?”
“This isn’t what I need right now. I already feel like a failure in my marriage.”
“And I haven’t been the best Mom either.”
“I’m a total loser.”
And in a blink of an eye, you went from a criticism at work to a full blown assault on yourself.
Part of the problem here is that you won’t realize it’s you doing all of this.
You will blame your boss for making you feel this way. When in reality, all he did was offer up an observation about a particular aspect of your job, on that particular day, under that particular circumstance.
You’re the one who brought your kids into it.
#2 Now, it’s time to change your perception.
Did you notice how I changed the word criticism to observation?
The way you use language seriously impacts how you experience everything.
Is it a disaster? Or an inconvenience?
Is it ALWAYS happening? Or is it just happening in this moment?
And in the big picture…Is it happening in this moment or is it happening in the past?
Most of this scenario was anchored in the past. If you were in the present only, you would see this for what it is. Just feedback.
But because we all have a filter we run everything though, we don’t see it as feedback. We see it as rejection, or disapproval, or a trial where we have to defend ourselves.
And that filter tells you how to behave.
So, let’s change the filter we see things through. This is what we call perception.
We perceive how things are. We don’t see them how they truly are until we check our baggage and make up a meaning about what’s going on.
If the filter is, “I’m not enough” then we get into trouble.
If the filter is “my boss wants to help me get better and has some feedback for me because he cares.”
Then that’s a horse of a different color. And it’s not a rose colored glass either.
It’s usually true that your boss DOES care and that he does want you to be better.
That after all is his job and his job depends upon how well you do your job.
At first, I can choose to tell myself the story about my boss really having my best interest at heart and not believe it. It might sound like bullshit!
After all, my boss might be a righteous asshole who seems like an emotional sado who secretly gets off on handing me my ass.
And guess what? Maybe he is. But what does that have to do with you?
That’s about him! And even more ammo for you to consider when you start telling yourself the story about not being enough.
#3 You have to be louder than the asshole. Even if the asshole is you.
When you feel like no one likes you~ it’s usually just you.
You are the one making yourself feel awful. You are the one telling yourself the story of being rejected. You are the one telling yourself the story of being incompetent.
And so was I.
And the truth is, the only hater you really have to win over is YOU.
Because if you can love yourself, that will be enough.
So, how do you love yourself?
As you know, I believe there are 7 distinct practices that we need to develop in order to love ourselves. And all of those can be found in my LYF Program on my site at www.lovecoachheidi.com
But for now, let’s start with one daily discipline that can change your life if you will dedicate yourself to it.
Talk to yourself the way you would’ve wanted to be talked to when you were 5 and you felt sad, threatened, scared, or when you really felt like you messed up.
What would you say?
Would you say, “That’s right Sarah, you spilled your milk. And I was waiting for you to do it because I knew you would. There it is, all over my clean floor. You’re such a little ass hole, never doing anything right. What a little shit you are. And you aren’t good at coloring either. You suck. And you’ll never be able to pick out a decent outfit. So, everyone will probably hate you if they don’t already. I know you got picked last for dodgeball last week, Typical. Idiot.”
I don’t think so.
I think you’d say, “Aw honey. The milk spilled. Let’s clean it up.”
So when your boss tells you that you blustered your TPS reports, you don’t bring your marriage into it.
You say, “Ah, Jane. We need to fix those TSP Reports. Thanks for your help, boss.”
Not all correction is criticism.
Sometimes it’s feedback. Sometimes, it’s just spilled milk. And you don’t need to cry over spilled milk.
Go on and watch the video for even more clarity.
I love you! See you next week! Oh~ make sure you’re subscribed!