To start, I want you to do away with the idea of constructive criticism. The word criticism has been tainted anyway in the mind of the collective consciousness. And there is no such thing as constructive criticism. Criticism challenges our sense of value. And when our sense of value is threatened, a part of our brain that is cued into social survival is triggered. Criticism can literally feel like a threat to your survival. But we need feedback. Our growth and awareness is dependent on it. So I want you to think of feedback as belonging to two distinct camps. The first is criticism. The second is sharing your individual and honest perspective or experience. Giving criticism is much different than sharing your honest perspective because it is given with little to no regard about whether the person on the other end is receptive. It is often done in a state of reactivity, when we are in a state of defense. The intention behind it has almost nothing to do with the person receiving the criticism, and almost everything to do with the person giving it. Any time we provide feedback with the goal of getting someone to better meet our needs, rather than being responsive to theirs, it’s unlikely to produce our desired outcome and will most likely produce an undesired outcome. For example, a dance teacher might critique a performance of a young dancer with the intention of helping the dancer to excel. In this scenario, the opinion could be said to be more helpful than harmful. If however, the dance teacher critiques a performance of a young dancer with intention of preventing herself from embarrassment and maintaining her own prestige by making the young dancer correct the flaws in her routine, the criticism could be said to be more harmful.
There is a caveat I must insert here. We cannot say that you should absolutely never offer your opinion if you are doing so out of your own self interests or if the opinion was not asked for. For example, if you are someone’s boss in a work environment, you cannot afford to take this approach with regards to your employees. But we should be aware enough that we are acting in our own best interests so that we can make a conscious decision about whether or not sharing our opinion is in fact in alignment with the highest good in the scenario we find ourselves in and if it is, how to deliver the opinion that is in our own best interest and not solicited. Intention is everything when it comes to criticism and sharing our opinion. We have to be aware of why we feel the need to share our opinion. And even if we have good intentions, we still must ask ourselves if despite good intentions, we are harming the other person with our critique. I can help you to understand the key difference between criticism and sharing an honest perspective in this way: The prerogative with negative criticism is to try to push something unwanted away from you, that is why it feels so resistant in nature. In the above scenario, the dance teacher was using criticism as her way of trying to push away the possibility that she could be humiliated by her dancer during a performance, by making her correct her routine. On the other hand, the sharing of a perspective is given in a way that the person giving the critique is not thinking about what he or she wants or does not want as much as she or he is quite literally just sharing an honest perspective or experience that was invited in some way. It has a much more neutral feel to it.
To have a perspective at all, you must judge. To even call a clock a clock is to judge it as a clock and thus restrict its potential energy to that of a clock. We judge. That’s what people do. And judgment, like any tool can be beneficial to you or harmful to you depending on when and how it is used. We all have a perspective about each other. If you have an opinion, you have judged. Good luck trying to not have an opinion. It defies life. It is the flexibility or openness of the opinion that makes the opinion either more painful or less painful. And it is our perspectives and individual preferences that fuel universal expansion. Hearing other people’s honest perspectives can be very beneficial to our growth and to the expansion of the universe. A great many people in the spiritual field try to get rid of all judgment in themselves. I think this is neither beneficial nor possible. Noticing and changing your painful judgments (the ones that seek to push something away from you) as well as developing a flexibility in your perspective however, IS beneficial. What we must first understand is that it is painful to negatively judge and disapprove of something for both the giver of the criticism and the receiver. In giving a negative criticism, we must match the frequency of the criticism that we are giving and so we hold ourselves as well as the receiver in a low vibrational chokehold of sorts. This is what we do when we try t push away anything in a universe based on the law of attraction… we do nothing but vibrationally join the thing we are pushing against. It becomes included in our vibration. This is why many teachers will tell you to just not give any negative criticism and instead adopt the policy that “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But this is neither practical nor useful and it puts a muzzle on a part of you that very much so needs your attention and care. Becoming aware of our own judgments opens the door for growth and sharing our honest opinion or experience, even if that opinion or experience is not positive provides others the opportunity for growth. People, who struggle chronically with being criticized, struggle with self esteem and self love. The universe mirrors to them their own negative self-appraisal. For this reason, if you struggle with being criticized, watch my video on YouTube Titled “How to Develop Self Worth” also, you could read the book I wrote titled” Shadows Before Dawn, finding the light of self love through your darkest times”.
People who chronically criticize (yes, we know who we are, let’s just admit to it) struggle with chronic fear. We are only critical of something when we are afraid we will be affected by something. Criticism is a cry for help in disguise. It is a cry for help that says the following… “I feel powerless to others and so I can’t trust myself to make myself feel good and especially to feel emotionally safe and so I need you to correct this thing that is going to cause me pain so I don’t have to feel bad.”
What we need to learn to ask ourselves if we have the tendency to criticize is: What am I so afraid of? And What do I want to have happen as a result of this criticism? We would not give criticism if we did not have something we were afraid of and something in mind for what we would prefer. We need to learn to ask for these things directly instead of manipulate others by criticizing them. For this reason, it is a good idea to watch my video on YouTube titled “Meet your needs”. Also, many of us who criticize, have a very hard time being honest with ourselves and are instead prone to denial of our true motives and justification. For this reason, we would do well to take our judgments or negative appraisals of others and find the core beliefs that are below them. For this reason, watch my YouTube video titled: “How to Find a Core Belief.”
When we have the tendency to criticize because we are trying to get a need met, we mask our criticism under the guise of help. We then get angry when our criticism isn’t received well. The idea of constructive criticism has allowed us to do this for years. For example, we might have a need to feel good about ourselves and so we get that need in a round about way by using criticism to de-value someone and then we call it helpful, when all it was, was us trying to get what we needed by delivering the criticism. Another example is that a mother could criticize her daughter for being fat, not realizing that what she is hoping is that her daughter will start exercising and lose weight so she can feel good about herself as a mother. She could say this is constructive criticism because it is for her daughter’s own good, when it is really just her trying to get her need for approval from others met. So beware the excuse and mask of constrictive criticism. Once you perceive a green light to deliver your honest perspective and you know it is not coming from the place of wishing to defend yourself and your own interests, how you do so is important. The more the person you are criticizing feels compelled to defend their value, the less capable they are of absorbing what they are hearing. Many people, whose perspectives are not well received, find themselves in that position because they deliver their opinion without establishing any rapport. What I mean by this is, there’s no suggestion of caring for the other person or of empathy and compassion. It is too blunt or too harsh. Empathy can easily be demonstrated by softening the delivery of a perspective. For example, you could say “you’re doing it all wrong” or you could say, “You may want to consider changing your approach”. Another example is you could say “You lost track of all the numbers I needed on this sheet” or you could say, “I noticed there are some numbers missing, can you tell me why?” Softening your delivery does wonders for being received well. And it is still honest. It is simply honesty backed by caring compassion for how another person feels. And let’s face it; we want other people to care about us when they deliver us a perspective that is unfavorable. So we should quite literally be addressing them like we would wish to be addressed. Keeping in mind that some people are more sensitive than others.
You’ve all heard of the technique of organizing statements like criticisms into “I statements” before delivering messages to people. So the statement “You are lazy” should be turned to “ I feel like you’re being lazy.” You’ve heard of it because it works. Instead of blaming and shaming and labeling, it forces us to own our perspective and take responsibility for our perspectives and most especially own how we feel, which minimizes other peoples defenses. Another good tool to use is to relate to someone as you’re delivering a negative opinion about their behavior or creation. This builds rapport. If you are making them aware of a mistake they have made, you may wish to share a story of you having made a similar mistake in the past. Another technique you can use is to place two compliments on either side of a negative appraisal. In social skills, they call this sandwiching. And try to end the conversation on a positive note so the other person feels a sense of the critique adding to their life instead of taking away from it. Yet another good thing to do is to try out your criticism on yourself. Close your eyes and pretend for a moment that you are standing in front of someone whose opinion mattered to you and whose opinion would make a real impact on you when given. How would you wish them to word this very same opinion if it was their opinion so it did not hurt you and instead conveyed care for you? Then word it like that to the other person instead. Pay attention to internal criticism. People, who harshly criticize others, are like terrorists to themselves. So listen to the little voice within you, the one that is always feeding you an endless commentary about you and your life. Is it harsh and critical and unforgiving? If so, becoming aware of the pain that internal critique causes you and consciously offering love and compassion to that critical inner voice (that is in truth a very frightened aspect of you) and altering your internal commentary to be softer and more loving will cause you to become softer and more caring with others. Learn to recognize receptivity and invite. Sometimes it’s easy because the circumstance you entered into, you entered into with the understanding that you would be either giving or receiving critique. But when this isn’t the case, choose the right time and place and be aware that there are many subtle social cues (besides just being told flat our that they want your opinion) that can tip you off to the fact that a person actually wants your honest opinion. Beware though that a person can be fishing for approval instead of wanting an honest appraisal. But when in doubt, ASK them if they want to hear your perspective and honor the answer that they give. Chances are that if the other person hasn’t demonstrated a receptivity or invitation of your perspective, you are wanting to provide it because of your own interests and not theirs.
Before you share your negative opinion, remember this cardinal rule: Seek to understand rather than to make a statement. If we’ve already determined the other person is wrong, we have closed the door on them energetically. The mistake we make is to assume that we’re right about whatever opinion we’re inclined to say. We cannot find a meeting of minds and we cannot establish connection with someone if we are rigid in our viewpoint to the degree that we are unwilling to understand theirs. Our truths and perspectives are an interpretation, as all perspective are. Offer your opinion as the beginning of the journey of discussion instead of the end. Adopt an attitude of curiosity instead of certainty. Also, a great many criticisms that are given, are dripping with projection. For this reason, I encourage you to watch my video on YouTube titled: “Projection, (understanding the psychology of projecting)”. Sharing a perspective can be the thing that imprisons someone, or the thing that sets them free. It can also be the thing that imprisons us or sets us free. And it is not an exact science. Remain open enough to questioning yourself about whether or not it is in alignment with the highest good. And beware that the reactivity that spirals us into criticism, is always a byproduct of trauma we have suffered. It is indicative of the ways that we have been hurt. If we tend to that hurt, we will be less reactive and so we will become less critical. Our opinions will be wanted by others and received well by others.