Criticism can come in many forms and from just about anybody. Not only do we receive criticism, but we also give it, sometimes without even realizing we are. A lot of people, myself included, have a deep fear of criticism. Sometimes that fear is all-encompassing, sometimes it is about specific forms of criticism. And sometimes our criticism is actually us showing we care about a person.

Today I am not talking about the constructive criticism that you need or want so you can do your job better or improve your life. I’m not talking about the feedback we receive because we ask for it. I’m talking about the criticism we receive from people around us about anything and everything we do that just makes us feel like shit. This is the form of criticism that I struggle with the most.

You will never be criticized by someone who is doing more than you. They are too focused on their dreams and know how hard the journey is. You will only be criticized by someone who isn’t achieving their goals and is taking it out on you.

Lewis Howes

People who criticize us not only do so in reference to goals but also because of their perception of us. Over the years I have realized that I’ve done a really good job at hiding the struggles I’ve overcome in life. You know how you can look at someone and think they are completely put together and have just cruised through life and then as you get to know them you start to learn that they haven’t actually had it as easy as they have made it look? Yeah, that perception that people may develop may prompt their criticism because they don’t know the behind-the-scenes of your life and they may be jealous based on their perception.

I have a specific person in my life that has criticized me for many years. The criticism has come over and over for just about anything I do or do not do. Normally, I would sever the relationship, but that is not completely up to me this time. So, I’ve been trying to work on my end of the relationship. I most definitely don’t trust this person and this person has caused me to lose all trust in multiple other people. But I can still be cordial and have a good time as long as I monitor the conversations we have and make sure I set boundaries.

I don’t think this person isn’t achieving their goals and is in turn taking that out on me, I feel as though there is more to it. I can speculate, but I don’t want to spread my speculation that might not be accurate. That comes back to criticism that I really don’t want to give. It would be criticism from a place of hurt rather than from a place of love. That type of criticism can be damaging.

In fact, that brings up another thought. Have you stopped to think about why you might be criticizing a person? Or why one of your friends may be continuously criticizing other people? Or why someone continuously criticizes you? Could it be because either one of you is hurt and that is how your hurt is showing itself? 

Back to Lewis Howes’ quote above. At the end he said, “and is taking it out on you.” I think that may be a common root of criticism. People are hurt or aren’t where they want to be in life or want to maintain their social standing so they take out their hurt or fear on you. I can think of many situations in my life that this would be true. And what feels like the worst part about this is that their hurt or fear or the underlying reason that is prompting their criticism of you might actually have nothing to do with you.

I’ve been on the giving end of criticism that I know has made people feel like shit. I have been a hurt person that hurt other people. I’m not proud of it, but I am working to heal myself so I don’t continue to make these mistakes. These days, anytime that I provide criticism, I try to ask myself, before I say anything if the words I’m about to speak are coming from a place of love or a place of hurt or judgment. I will be the first to tell you that it isn’t always easy to answer that question. And when I can’t, I try not to say anything at all. 

I’m currently struggling with a situation where a person in my life is taking some drastic steps and appears to be lashing out and I’m trying not to criticize because everything being done is so different than how I would handle each situation. I’m struggling because I love this person but I have also seen more than most others have that gives me a different perspective. I’m struggling because I don’t want confrontation, but I owe that person a discussion because of the distance I have placed in our lives.

I want to challenge you to think about the criticism that you dish out. Is it from a loving place? Is it from a place of judgment? Are you hurt and putting your hurt on somebody else?

I am challenging myself every single day as I lead people at work, interact with friends and family, and work to have a loving relationship with my husband. I have grown from a place of easily dishing out criticism because that is how my early years were sculpted to catching myself either in the midst of it or right before I start dishing it out. I am most definitely not perfect, but I am challenging myself the same way I just challenged you.

Criticism hurts to receive. Make sure if you give criticism you are not intentionally hurting someone else.

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