Criticism

I was fucking pissed.

The freight wasn’t going to fit, and I knew it, and my boss knew it, and he called me on it.

It didn’t help the sting of all the effort I put into the truck, nor did it help the fact that I was convinced it would fit but didn’t. I didn’t want to admit I was wrong, so I spazzed out at my boss when he called me on it.

I raised my voice. I punched the wall. I threw a fit like a fucking child.

My boss, my best friend at the time, should’ve fired me on the spot. He was right. He knew what I was doing wasn’t going to work, and even after he told me several times, I still fucking tried to prove him wrong.

And I failed miserably. And rather than take the correct approach and understand that I had miscalculated the load fitting in the truck, I instead punched the wall and threw a tantrum.

And it wasn’t the first time. I think if I had been in any other job, at any other time, my ass would have been unemployed faster than you can say “inappropriate conduct”. But because it was my family’s business, I got a pass, and continued to get a pass, all while knowing that even if I was frustrated and acted like a little kid, I’d not face any major implications for that behavior. So I never really learned how to handle criticism properly.

It happened throughout my life with the same results. I didn’t believe that I needed to learn anything, I thought I knew it all already (many times a symptom of just being young), but it was also how I was raised and taught in school that really got me into trouble for later in my life.

I was a rule follower. I rarely got into trouble in school, and when I did, it was so stressing and disastrous to me, that I swore I wouldn’t ever do it again. So I stayed on the straight and narrow, doing so well that I really never needed to be corrected, to the point that when anyone tried to correct me, I got upset and shut down.

And the monster it created was one that I didn’t like to show, but was forced to often when I was challenged later on in college and at my job.

But why the fuck did I go into a rant every time someone tried to give me any type of criticism, warranted or otherwise?

Why did I consistently put up my defenses when anything regarding me was questioned or criticized?

And why, in today’s society, is this the default reaction to anyone who has valid criticisms about us?

Why Don’t We Like Criticisms?

Why do we take on a defensiveness whenever we are criticized?

It’s a natural reaction for humans to react to any type of criticism with a defense mechanism to try and either disprove or attack the offending party.

We tend to take everything personal. And anything, from our work, to our bodies, to our attitudes, to anything that involves us, is fair game. We feel it hurt when someone criticizes us. Just like getting rejected, we take is personally and it makes us rethink our own attitudes about ourselves.

And if we continue to hear bad things about ourselves, we tend to dwell on those things and give them validity though, many times, they don’t have any.

We seldom get criticized by people we love, but when we do, it tends to hurt more than if it were just a stranger.

And these days, we are surrounded by people, especially on the internet, that use an anonymous mask to throw insults that we all take way too seriously.

When I first started on Twitter, I would let complete strangers tell me how I did things and criticize me, and I would let it affect me. So just like at my job, I would lash out and call these people names, not even knowing who the hell they were.

All because I thought it hit close to home even when it didn’t.

So that day, and the many days before, that I had gotten into trouble for doing something that I thought was right, only to be corrected by a boss or co-worker, built up and got me more and more defensive, turning a fit into a tantrum and a punch to a wall or fight with another person.

If I was ever going to master myself, I was going to have to understand that taking criticism, especially from people who are trying to help you, is a sign of maturity that people need to have in order to grow.

So I had to relearn this lesson, starting with taking criticism and understanding good criticism and bad criticism.

Maturity And Accountability

So, I had to hear things.

And I had to put myself around people who were concerned with me being my best.

And I had to understand that when I was wrong, I needed to own up to it and try not to do it again.

But it took a dose of growing the fuck up to understand that I needed to take criticism to be better. But I also had to identify which criticism was valid and which was just bullshit. I had to know who I was and be around people who were interested in seeing me as a better person to understand which criticism was truth and which were lies.

It all started with me being comfortable with myself and finding a tribe of people, friends, and family, that were interested in seeing me grow.

I didn’t need people to spare my feelings, I just needed people to tell me what I needed to do in order to improve. And I had to take their comments with a chest out and a chin up. It wasn’t ever personal, it was trying to help me improve.

But most of all, I needed to be held accountable when I fucked up. And I needed to understand that when I fucked up, the best approach was to admit to it, find the fault and correct it so it didn’t happen again. I wasn’t infallible, no one is.

How did I respond to criticism after understanding that it was being used to help me minimize my flaws and maximize my strengths?

I responded by understanding that my goal was to improve myself. When I finally understood that criticism was REQUIRED for me to become the best version of myself, it became easier to take and also was used to help me.

I understood that criticism was really “feedback” from those who wanted to see me at my best.

And as I developed a sounding board that would help me be my best, the ability to take and use criticism became a superpower that I used whenever I had a setback.

I needed to have it to see my faults and fix them.

I needed to have accountability so that I could stop fucking up and get my shit together.

Taking criticism is a necessity for anyone who wants to get better.

Just find a group that wants to see you succeed, a mentor who wants to see you better, and ignore the anonymous haters who throw bombs just to throw them.

You will be a better person when you accept you have things you have to work on.