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Unhooking from Others' Criticism & Praise!

Imagine!  Living independently of what others think and not having someone else's opinion determine how you feel about yourself. 

It's so simple. But not easy!

Because it's very natural to rely on praise and criticism to determine our self worth. We're wired to be alert to the negative to ensure our survival and sadly this means the positive feedback slips away like Teflon and the negative - well, think Velcro!

It comes up often in my coaching sessions: where we - women in particular - are framing feedback on something we have done, something we are wearing, something we like - as a personal attack on 'who' we are. Just as easily, we're framing a compliment as a sign we're a 'good person'.

Here's the thing: if we attach our self worth to the feedback of others, our confidence becomes like a fair weather friend.  We feel great about ourselves when we get external praise, yet our confidence sinks through the floor when someone gives us a little bit of constructive, dare I say, critical, feedback. 

And feedback is EVERYWHERE, especially if we're on high alert for it.  It can take many forms: the number of Facebook likes, your job performance review, your family’s reaction to your dinner, your friends’ reaction to your joke, a comment about something you're wearing. 

The 'I'm Not Good Enough' epidemic

Underneath it all we fear rejection, we've possibly spent our entire lives trying to be who we think we need to be to avoid rejection.  Because we're afraid that the real version of ourselves isn’t good enough.  

Our risk of rejection used to be limited by the size of our immediate social circle. Today, technology, social media platforms and dating apps, means we're connected to thousands of people, any of whom might ignore our posts, chats, texts, or dating profiles, and leave us feeling rejected. There are likes, swipes, comments, comparisons and statistics everywhere! And if we're not careful, we can become hooked on these, and they can all add to our 'I'm not good enough' sense of self worth.

Whether the rejection we experience is large or small, one thing remains constant — it always hurts, and it usually hurts more than we expect it to. Rejection and criticism eat away at our basic human need for a sense of belonging.
BUT here’s the KEY thing you really need to take away from this:


What I means by this is:


This is NOT ABOUT becoming disconnected, desensitised or resistant to either praise or criticism. 

It IS ABOUT unhooking from feedback and using our own wisdom to learn how we can use feedback of any sort to our advantage in the pursuit of our dreams.

- Tara Mohr

Tara Mohr is famed for her 'living big' concept.  This is her take on feedback:

“If someone says your idea is fantastic, that just tells you about their taste. If you put out a new product and it doesn’t sell at all, that tells you something about what your audience does and doesn’t want.

“Feedback is emotionally neutral information that tell us what sings to our audience, what resonates for them, what communicates clearly, what engages the people we want to engage.

“Feedback DOES TELL US about what is working and not for the particular people we want to reach. It gives us insight into them, not into ourselves.

Feedback DOES NOT TELL US whether we are good enough or not. Whether our ideas have merit or not. Whether we are gloriously worthy or worthless. It is not meant to give us self-esteem boosts or wounds.

It gives us tactical information about how to reach who we want to reach.”

Using feedback to our advantage - even at work!

You see, you have a CHOICE: To allow criticism to send you into ‘I’m not good enough’ spiral; OR use it as an opportunity to learn something about the person giving the feedback - our audience – to glean an insight about what they need or are looking for. 


Think about this in a simple context: a restaurant.  If a customer says they didn't like the raspberries on the crème brulee - what does that really tell the chef? It tells them that this person doesn't like raspberries.  Did it provide any facts about the quality of the dish, or the skills, potential or worth of the chef?  Absolutely not. The only fact the chef has is that one of their customers doesn't like raspberries.  
Here's another example in a work context. Let's say you send a proposal to a prospective client and they aren’t interested. There are three things this tells you:It tells you what they may be interested in (something you're not offering)
It tells you what they aren't interested in (what you offered)
It tells is we are pitching our concepts to the wrong people
What if they don't respond at all?  Perhaps they haven't even received it. Perhaps they have been too busy. You don't know!
What if they responded rudely?  Perhaps they have got 'hard stuff' going on at work or home.  Again, you just don't know!
Of what if they came back with lots of questions? Great. A sign you know things they don't and you can help them understand.

But you do know: their lack of interest/non-response/rudeness/questions does not actually tell you anything about you or the validity of your proposal. 

It comes back to our choice – to take it to heart and think "I'm not good enough" OR use as opportunity to learn something about our audience

How do you know if you're HOOKED?

Being hooked results in running our lives by others’ criticism or praise. Be honest with yourself about this - and consider your kids too. Being hooked looks like this: 

The fear of criticism stymies growth, creativity and innovation.  We may not express ourselves fully or do anything that risks being criticised.  Imagine a child being afraid to try something new because they fear being told off or judged by a parent, teacher, or coach.

While it does sound crazy, sometimes the opposite (of fearing criticism) is also true – avoiding praise because we don’t wish to stand out.  We deliberately self-sabotage our work to fly under the radar. We may even not try to give our best because of the expectation this creates.

Overly dependent or addicted to praise – the dopamine rush of ‘likes’ on Facebook or constantly checking our phones for messages are common.  Only doing things that guarantee us getting the praise, the top mark, the gold star.

Often, we’ve been brought up to 'be good’, making us people pleasers.·DON’T do work or express ideas that others might disapprove of. DON’T question your boss. DON’T disrupt. DON’T draw attention to yourself. DO BE likeable, just fit in.

Never lose sight of your CHOICE!

I'm hoping this was a useful little reminder: you cannot be defined by the feedback and opinions of others, unless you allow yourself to be.  Take every bit of feedback and see how it can be useful for you, rather than harmful.  If you’re out there doing big things, sharing your ideas, it means you’ll get feedback and it might be hard. Hard because the feedback will be about the real authentic version of yourself that is emerging as you summon up courage to take risks.  But doing stuff is always going to invite feedback.  So let’s accept that. 

Feedback is like the weather.
We know it's coming. 
We can’t avoid it. 
But we do have a choice how we receive and react to it. 


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