Which words have such a painful effect upon us and that leaves us feeling worthless and shattered after hearing them? Which people have the power to utter those words that often leave us broken and defeated?
There are three things that contribute to criticisms that hurt us deeply:
1. The Criticism That Touches a Wound
Words that are totally untrue rarely have the power to hurt us. We hurt because we felt some truth to the criticisms hurled against us. Such criticisms may not be totally true, but they may point towards a truth we’ve always wanted to hide or to some related weakness that we haven’t been able to address so far.
Note that some of these weaknesses may not even exist in reality, but if we perceive them to exist or to matter to us, the wounds exist, and they hurt whenever they are touched.
For example, we may think we’re not good-looking enough and words said about our appearance trigger some feelings of insecurity. In truth, we may not really look that bad, but when we believe that we’re not attractive, we’d always feel attacked whenever somebody tries to make fun of our appearance.
2. The Criticism That Comes From a Person Valuable to Us
It is the people who are closest to us whom we count on the most. We expect them to protect us, to defend us from people who may look down on us, and to guard the vulnerabilities we have revealed to them.
Once they start criticizing us, we immediately feel the intensity of the impact of their words. We may feel like we’re being attacked by those whom we trusted with our greatest secrets, including the weaknesses we have hidden from everyone else.
Weren’t they supposed to be the ones who would understand us the most? Weren’t they the ones who should believe in us despite the imperfections that they see in us?
3. The Criticism That Comes From Someone Credible
Criticisms have a greater impact when uttered by those we deem as credible in the area where we are being criticized. For example, if we are joining a singing contest, it is the judge who also happens to be a great singer, who has the power to affect us with her words of praise or disapproval regarding our singing ability.
They may not always be right, but since we have already given them our belief in their particular area of expertise, we easily consider their words as true.
Once all three factors exist at the same time, the more will be our hurt and our difficulty in trying to move on from said criticisms. For example, maybe we feel insecure about our intelligence, and we have been criticized as being stupid or shallow. What would make it worse is when that criticism comes from a person we love, such as a life partner, and more so if that person is one whom we consider as possessing a high degree of intelligence.
In such instances, how do we deal with the criticisms that deeply hurt our self-esteem?
1. Find Healing For Our Wounds
Hurts caused by criticisms may be opportunities for us to discover the wounds we have. This in turn may give us the chance to heal and to be more at peace with who we are.
2. See The Intention of The Person Criticizing Us
If the person criticizing us is someone we love, let us try to look at their intentions for doing so. In truth, they may only want us to improve so we can have better lives and because they really care about us.
If however, we find out that the people criticizing us have all the wrong intentions, such as really feeling envious and desire only to put us down, then we can learn to protect ourselves from them and not let their words affect our self worth.
3. Know That Nobody’s Perfect
Even if the people who criticize us are credible, let us remember that nobody is really perfect. They could be wrong. Or they could also have the wrong intentions. If they are right however, let us use their criticisms constructively so we could grow and reach our full potential.