Criticism, Constructive or Destructive?

How do you internalize criticism from outside sources?

Personally, my response depends on the situation, the approach, and the person. Most people respond to criticism in a defensive manner and see it as an attack on their self-worth. This is when one must take a step back, reflect and decide whether the criticism is constructive or not. Does this feedback help you grow, or is it intended to put you down? As mentioned in my previous blog, “Who am I,” we are already our own worse critics. By not being able to identify between different types of criticism, you allow yourself to be more susceptible to having a lower self-esteem rather than using the experience for self-growth.

            I was taught that being stoic was a strength early on in life. Standing on the pitching mound, my facial expression cold as ice, I would never show the opposing team my fear, anger, or, desperation. This is a trait that I have carried into the professional world. Recently, I was informed by my employer that a patient complained about my customer service. The patient described me as, “stoic and showed no emotion.” I took these words to heart because I have dedicated my life to the wellbeing of others. I began to question my self-worth and my value as an employee.

The advice I was given from my employer was, “to leave my emotions at home.” I thought that was what being stoic was. I did not reveal the stress, anxiety, and overwhelming feelings that I was experiencing in that moment. In my opinion, I was able to disconnect from my negative emotional state and maintain a professional appearance to uphold the values of the workplace.

            Not everyone will agree with your personal values and approach to life. When faced with personal criticism we begin to question our own truths. If you find yourself doubting your core beliefs due to criticism from outside sources, this is what I want you to ask yourself:

  1.  Does this criticism help you grow and become a better version of yourself? If your answer is yes, this is constructive criticism and should be welcomed.
  2. Does this criticism make you feel bad and damage your self-worth? If you answered yes, this is destructive criticism. You should not allow yourself to dwell on it or be consumed by it because the motives are not intended to assist in your growth but rather to bring you down.
  3. Is this criticism appropriate in your current circumstance or should it completely be dismissed? If your answer is yes, then take a deep breath and move on.

If you can add to my advice to help others identify the difference between constructive and destructive criticism, please comment below.

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