I was waiting for a taxi when I observed a lady wearing Palazzo pants and an extremely see-through tight fitted top. It was literally a net with large holes making it look like she wasn’t wearing a stitch up there. The only thing underneath was a black bra. My initial expression when I saw her was indifference; that see and mind your business look, you know what I mean?
Well, it wasn’t so for other persons around. This made me understand that not everyone is the same. There were those like me who saw and went their way. Some others were more intrigued and stood on the sidewalk staring at her for a long time. The third category of people are my reason for this article; the hypercritical people.
In this scenario, one particular lady inside a moving vehicle was shouting through the window. Turned out that I entered the same taxi. Guess what? This woman talked about the lady’s outfit till we got to our destination.
It’s not as if I’m picking sides. I think everyone has a choice in their dress sense, as long as they are comfortable in it. Here, the lady in question was apparently comfortable, she obviously didn’t care about the self-righteous looks of disapproval or the catcalls or lewd remarks coming from left, right and center. She just kept smiling mischievously. This begs a question…
Is it all criticism that is bad?
Often times, criticism draws out emotions. Criticism happens every other day, continuous hits have a potential of ruining your mood and subsequently your self worth.
Let’s take an example from a popular topic which affects almost everyone…weight! For someone like me that has a weight that fluctuates, I mean, there were times that I got really skinny and other times, I was as fresh and round as ‘today’s bread’. I noticed that people still had something to say about my weight on the two instances.
At a point I became very self conscious; always having issues with my choice of clothes. I starved myself for hours and days with the intention of losing weight. I didn’t like my plump frame. Until I developed a thick skin from hearing so much and closing my ears to that judgmental tone, I continued to injure myself internally. it was like a cage stopping me from knowing that I am special just the way I am.
After then, I could see clearly enough to know that it wasn’t the food I ate but that regular exercises would help me keep in shape. So I can tell you that letting your emotions respond to every wave of criticism thrown at you would eventually make you loose your self esteem.
However, not all criticisms are bad. Even when your mistakes and failures are highlighted, it may just be a source of help to you. This is called constructive criticism. It is a helpful way of giving advice that provides specific recommendations on how to take steps for positive improvement. It doesn’t dwell on negative comments. Most people use the sandwich method in this regard. For instance, “ your voice sounds great. Although you could use a lot of voice trainings which would improve your key notes. All the same, you did great”. Now if you were addressed this way, tell me why you would not want to do better? You won’t feel bad at all.
Always take this kind of criticism positive and use the action steps provided.
Whereas, destructive criticism chews you out, mercilessly ripping you apart leaving you in bits and pieces. It is always out to undermine your abilities and harm your self esteem. An example of destructive criticism is: “That dress makes you look fat. It is boring just like all your other clothes”. I’m sure you won’t want to be at the receiving end of this kind of vocal assault. Truly people can be so malicious and hurtful with their words. That’s why the Bible says in James 3:5:
“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.”
James 3:5 NLT
This tells you that the tongue is powerful; it can either make or mar you.
How do you deal with criticism?
Whether it’s constructive or destructive criticism, you have to learn how to handle it. If you can do this, you’d have improved yourself personally and professionally because people will always talk. You don’t have to withdraw into your shell or hide in a corner every time this happens.
You don’t have to let talks like these get to you, take it in good faith and prove them wrong. I have five ways to deal with criticism for you. They are:
- Your first instinct might be to respond and defend yourself but you must listen to the words and not the tone;
- Only then can you sieve out the words to work on from the ones which strip you of your self worth;
- Control your emotions and let them talk;
- Ignore the voice in your head that seeks to find out why you’re being criticized and eventually jump to conclusions. Rather, ask questions for better understanding so that you know how to work on it;
- Some people criticize based on their own insecurities so you need to consider whether the person had bitter experiences pertaining to the issue or is currently going through a rough patch. This way, you will exercise more tolerance in dealing with cases like this.
There’s a part of a song by an artiste, Tu face Idibia which goes thus: “If nobody talks about you, then you’re nobody”. Whether it’s true or lies, people would definitely keep the criticisms coming. So you have to prepare for it. Know that anything worth doing attracts admiration and criticism. Would you rather be judged or ignored? …
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, make the best out of it and learn again.