We tend to be so judgey; we place our feelings and expectations on others frequently; and they return the favor willingly. Unless you live on an island alone, dealing with other people and their thoughts and feelings is all a part of life. What you do with the information is up to you; and frankly in most cases it says more about how we feel about ourselves and our skill at being able to learn to roll and deal with negative feedback. We all know compliments feel so good and are easy to take, the challenge is learning to take negative comments in stride and even use it to your own benefit.
When we don’t deal with feedback in a healthy positive way, we tend to blame or become dismissive to the people around us; or internalize the negative feedback allowing it to become a part of who we think we are as people; defining our self value to ourself and others. Even in a healthy respectful relationship if one of the participants is unable to process feedback in a positive way they limit the ability for the relationship to be balanced and productive. This phenomenon can be present or exaggerated in abusive relationships even if the victim enters with a healthy self-worth; over time the abuser can saturate the environment to the point where even the most positive of people will change their perspectives.
Positive self-worth can help you deal with feedback; so if you recognize low self-esteem in yourself you will want to take extra care when dealing with negative feedback. I realized for myself anytime someone around me was not happy I would take on the responsibility of fixing things and making it ok. That is impossible. I am learning to let go of perfection and accepting that everything doesn’t have to be ok and I don’t have to do anything and it will pass.
I also realized that if someone gave me anything but positive feedback I would strive to change their opinion; I was placing my own self value at the charge of those around me. Taking possession of your own self value can be very empowering. You may need to start a habit of affirming yourself, and knowing in each moment that you are enough. I have to stop the negative talk that happens in my head.. When I recognize the topics or patterns I will stop and think of something else. This can be a tough one; but once you make the changes the sun will shine a little brighter each day!
I think a particularly female trait is to take on other people’s emotions; the best example I have of this is my relationship with my daughter. She is a moody 15-year-old that will smile and kiss me one second, slamming the door in my face in the next. Learning not to take on her emotions was so peaceful once I figured out the trick I was able to adopt the habit quickly.
A girlfriend shared with me that when her daughter would start to wind up; she would take a deep breath and center herself, pretend like she was one with the earth (like a tree) and focus all her energy into the earth. She would keep a calm face, steady breath and listen as her daughter wound up; any time she sensed a negative physical reaction in herself she would refocus on the ground. When her daughter slowed to note the lack of reaction she would ask if she could say something to her daughter. Once she gained positive affirmation from her daughter that she was ready to listen she would tell her that she was sorry she was upset and she would be there for her when she was ready to have a conversation. Then turn and walk away calmly. She would repeat this over and over. Her daughter learned quickly that the overreaction was not a path to take and modified her behavior. Sanity at last!!
I want to point out that in your relationships you may find people who are unable or unwilling to change real negative reactive behaviors. That is a red flag that someone may have something else going on and you may need additional support to manage to a healthy relationship.
I guess what I am learning, and I am laughing a bit to myself as I say this.. is that change is possible. Not letting people be the holder of your self worth is in your hands. I feel so luck to have people around me to help me learn this! Life is full of ups and downs; it is what keeps it exciting for me! But just because someone throws you the ball it doesn’t mean you have to catch it!