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Tired of criticism from others?

January 7, 2013

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My brother and sister are still having difficulty coming to terms with my father’s letter.  I saw this quote recently: “forgiving doesn’t mean you’re saying the other person’s right, just that you value your relationship more than asserting your own point if view”.

It made me think of the press exposé of my father’s letter, and how the positive message I wanted the article and any following interest in it, had never been seen.

So here’s my advice to those who are still suffering the after-effects:

It occurred to me that unless one’s famous or an expert in the field in question, nobody wants to know, generally, what we think.  This is all the more reason not to attach inordinate importance to someone else’s negative view of us.  Their comments (as they’re fundamentally not all that interested in you anyway) are probably either being made off the cuff, or are more about them than they are about you.

So, rather than swear never to talk to the offending person ever again, what to do?

You could read “Desiderata” and choose to see the criticism as another of life’s knocks, but essentially as noise.
You could listen to “Get Over It” by The Eagles.  If it sounds like the song was written about you, get help.  But where?
After seeking for depression or similar problem that might be holding you back, talk to a careers adviser, re-do your CV, or write a business plan, or whatever fits your situation.  If you lack inspiration or still feel held back, you could try self-help books.  I could give you a list!  (Then again, I’ve already tried to recommend some but get the impression it didn’t help much!)

I was watching a documentary on Margaret Thatcher, recently.  Speaking in an interview she’d given 6 months after her having to resign as Prime Minister, she had been unable to accept a key point in the story of her downfall.  This was that ministers and cabinet members close to her had wanted her to resign her post as PM, but had felt unable to say so face to face.  These ministers, on the other hand, say they had done just that. So who was right or wrong? Does it even matter, 20 years on?  Her apparent bewilderment sounded to me like the assertion of someone who was made to do one job only and who did it to the point of drowning out the voices of her critics and ultimately even of her collaborators.  Inevitably, in the end they felt they had one option only: to get her out of the picture.

It occurred to me that if you find it difficult to live with someone, or with their opinions, there’s really only one thing to do. There’s no point in trying to take the easy option and turn your back on them, as this causes too much collateral damage.  It is better, instead, to think of it as a challenge.

Families are not political parties or reality shows where members can be “voted out” or “fired”!  Nor are they companies whose rules of play are set out in company policy manuals and employment contracts.

So you can’t get rid of anyone, not really.  Not by writing them a hectoring email, and not by ignoring their invitations to lunch, their presents for the children, or anything else.

What you can do, is to take up the challenge of being yourself, without making compromises except those that bring about a real improvement in your own life or that of your dependents.  You can choose to allow yourself to exist despite the presence of this person who currently makes your life so difficult.  It means standing up for yourself, acknowledging your own mistakes, and forgiving theirs.  Above all, it means focussing on your own projects.  Before long you’ll be flourishing alongside your erstwhile critic, and he or she will be scratching their head wondering how they had had such an inaccurate picture if your worth!

If, on the other hand, they turn out to be the sort if person who resents your success instead of enjoying it, you’ll sense this and the order of things will change.  You’ll find a way forward from your new, confident position.  Either way, you will no longer be the butt if their joke, the subject of their admonishment nor, indeed, on the receiving end of any more of their lectures or pep talks!

So, from me, happy New Year and I hope you will take up the challenge!

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  1. Tu as marre des critiques des autres? « A New Life in France

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