For many people criticize is like breathing, they can not imagine a life without criticism. But be criticized, becoming the target, is different because it causes a lot of suffering.
Inadequate criticism, made at an inappropriate time, can leave deep emotional wounds. In fact, if we look in our memory, it won’t be probably hard to remember the criticism that has hurt us so deeply in the past and that still has not healed.
Unfortunately, we can not stop others from criticize us, but we can choose how to respond to their criticism. We have the power to avoid criticism, but we can decide whether to let these words make us sick. And the key to doing so lies in an ancient text.
The self-affirmation: An empowering path
“Anyone who self-affirm himself escapes criticism”, says the Tao Te Ching, a Chinese classic text whose authorship is attributed to Lao Tze and is one of the foundations of Taoism. It is a very old but still valid advice.
The self-affirmation is almost a super power, but unfortunately is not taught to children. In fact, it is often stifled immediately, because when children are taught to seek the approval of others, when are taught to evaluate themselves according to judgments that others give of their qualities, it is like killing the self-affirmation.
The self-affirmation is the ability to express our opinions and assert ourselves in relation to others. At its base there is a profound self-confidence. Only when we are sure of who and what we are and we value objectively our capabilities, we are able to express our needs and ideas assertively, without harming others, and avoid at the same time that our rights are trampled or that we’re despise.
For self-affirm yourself it is necessary that you have clear answers for these three questions:
1. Who are you? It may seem trivial, but many people do not know themselves, they do not know who they really are. However, to assert yourself you need to know yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, know what are your values, tastes and needs. Only a self-conscious person is able to assert himself.
2. Who you want to be? It is not enough to know yourself, you need to know what kind of person you want to become. What would you like to improve, what skills you are proud of and what is the path that could help you develop these skills? The answer to these questions will allow you to take control of your life.
3. What do you want? The objectives we set ourselves end up changing us, so it is important to know what we want to achieve and how. Setting realistic goals will help us to strengthen the confidence in ourselves, we will become more responsible and we will be immune to unhealthy criticism.
Why self-affirmation is the best antidote against criticism?
When you know exactly what your weak points and strong ones are, when you are sure of what you want and how to achieve it, the criticism of others won’t even touch you because they do not manage to make you feel inferior, incompetent or doubtful.
In fact, we must not forget that criticism hurts so much because it makes us doubt in ourselves, it activates the feeling that we are not up to it, that we are inadequate or incompetent. Criticism that makes us suffer is just like the nail on the head, the criticism that we hear to is that, in a sense, which confirms our worst fears about ourselves.
We can think of the criticism as a tuning fork. Can harm us only that which resonate at the same frequency of our inner “self”, the one that plays on our fears and insecurities. Therefore, the self-affirmation is the best antidote to unhealthy criticism, the confidence in ourselves allows us to take an emotional distance from harmful words. So we can evaluate objectively whether the criticism is constructive and brings us something that allows us to grow or, on the contrary, are only words that are intended to hurt us. In both cases, the decision is in our hands.