The Criticism Epidemic

How often do you feel criticized by your partner, children, co-worker, boss, friend or parent? Do you feel like you are never good enough no matter what you do? Do you feel like you will not live up to someone else’s expectations of you? Are you critical of yourself and others? 

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to criticize means to find fault with or point out faults.  Criticism is like cancer in relationships and can tear them apart. Self-criticism leads to feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy. If we are hard on ourselves, we tend to be hard on others. 

Why do you criticize? Is it to get people to change or do things your way? Is it because you feel powerless inside and not good enough? Is it because you feel you know better than the other person? Is it a way to manage your anxiety, fear and hurt? Does it create a barrier to getting close with others? The answer may be “yes” to several of these questions. 

Below are some immediate steps you can take to shift from being less critical and to becoming more accepting and peaceful. 

  1. Explore when you started being critical. Was someone critical of you early in your life such as a parent, boss, friend or partner and now you are continuing that pattern in your personal life? Do you have black and white thinking? Will you argue to win and be right? Ask yourself whether you would rather be right or in a connected relationship. Needing to be right is a relationship killer. 
  2. Stop and think before you speak. Be mindful about what you are thinking and whether or not there is value in saying it. Begin to look at why you are being critical and the purpose it serves in your life.  
  3. Begin to accept others as they are and focus on working on you. What we resist and try to control, will persist. We cannot change others. Criticism isn’t going to change anyone including ourselves. It will push them further away and have the opposite impact. 
  4. Know the difference between criticism and feedback. We can tell someone how we feel and speak our truth without attacking someone else or putting them down. We can share how we feel out of love and coming from a place of grace. When we are trying to be “right,” then we are more likely to be critical of another person. We want to feel heard and understood.

We can only change ourselves. Take steps today to end criticism patterns. It will change your life!

-Kristen D Boice M.A., LMFT, EMDR Trained

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