Criticism why it’s so harmful

When people think of criticism, most think of either deliberate criticism (a blunt, hurtful, rude or judgmental comment made intentionally) or constructive criticism (a comment designed to ‘help’ you in some way with performance, behaviour, etc).

Whether it’s constructive or deliberate, no one likes to be criticized.  It makes people feel wrong, bad, blamed and judged and also has an element of shame attached to it, which is why you feel so yucky when you have been criticized by someone and often angry as well.  It also makes you feel like you are being blamed for what happened and that you are responsible for making someone else feel bad as well.  That’s why it feels so awful as there is the element of guilt in there as well so not only do you feel bad about yourself for doing the wrong thing you also feel bad for doing the wrong thing by someone else.

The problem with criticism is it just isn’t helpful.  To have someone say to you ‘you should have done it that way instead’ or ‘you should have known better’ after you have already done it makes no difference at all, it just makes the person feel bad.  After all if you had known better you would have done it the other way right!  Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it is that, information we realize after something has already happened.  We can then use that information for next time but we cannot change or alter what has happened.  So criticism just rubs salt into the wounds.

Most people who criticize aren’t meaning to make people feel bad, they just don’t realize the effect their language has on other people.  People who criticize others were also criticized as children (that’s where they learnt the behaviour) and so they would often be mortified to known they are criticizing others or they would rationalize their criticism by saying they are just trying to help without thinking too much about how that ‘helping’ would feel if it was done to them.

Children are especially susceptible to criticism.  When you tell a child ‘you should have done it that way’ or ‘you should have said it that way’ and ‘you should have known better than to do that’ they only hear ‘I am wrong’, ‘I always do the wrong thing’ and ‘I can’t get it right’ in that message.  They don’t see the parent as trying to help all they know is that it makes them feel bad and guilty so they then try as hard as they can to be perfect so they are never wrong again.  Pretty hard thing to do considering part of being human is having flaws and making wrong choices at times.

As adults criticism often communicates things we already know (which is why it’s so annoying).  As adults we all have the benefit of hindsight so we can often look back on our choices or actions and think that another choice could have been a better option.  But as soon as you say ‘I should have …’ you then criticize yourself and make yourself wrong.  A lot of people do this to themselves, walking around saying to themselves you should have done this and you should not have done that and why didn’t you know better.  They give themselves the same berating as they received as children and they can’t escape their own thoughts.

Criticism is a vicious cycle.  As I said people who criticize were criticized themselves as children and then go on to criticize others and also themselves.  If you have someone in your life criticizing you, be it a partner, friend or work colleague (or total strangers) then it is a sign that you have been criticized in your life and it’s something you need to address.

When you take the external events around you as a sign of internal disequilibrium then you can take back control of what happens around you.  Sounds strange but these people are showing up in your life so you can resolve this issue.  Your soul figures if you get enough experiences of this bad feeling you might look inside and resolve it.  Criticism brings on feelings of helplessness, feeling useless and feeling blamed so if you are having these feelings you need to take back control of your life so you can break this cycle.  You were born to feel empowered and good about yourself the way you are, flaws and all, mistakes and all.  That’s what life is all about.

Shelley Viskovich

Shelley Viskovich

Shelley Viskovich works with clients across Australia helping them achieve a happier and more fulfilling life on all levels. Her expertise is in the area of change, breakthrough and transformation meaning she has the ability to pinpoint exactly what needs to change in your life and then gives you the tools you need to breakthrough old patterns, transform your life and be who you want to be.

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