How do you want others to respond when you give them critical feedback?
  • Crushed
  • Defensive
  • Dismissive
  • Open and Appreciative

Open and appreciative, right? Shouldn’t we respond to others the same way we want them to respond to us?

This exercise gives us a productive response to the feedback we get from others. It also provides insight into how to respond to criticism from the mind.

Self-criticism is the result of automatic thoughts and emotions. It’s the mind giving us feedback so we can learn from our mistakes. We’d never learn and improve if the mind never gave us critical feedback.

TED Talks by Dr. Susan David and Dr. Kelly McGonigal explain the positive impact of embracing unpleasant emotions, like the feelings that come with self-criticism. This approach is the opposite of telling our mind to stop beating us up.

It makes sense to embrace thoughts about how we can improve. However, it seems wrong to embrace hyper-critical thoughts like “I’m ugly” or “I’m worthless.” While your mind is off-base, how effective is it to argue with it? It’s about as effective as telling a person who is saying hurtful things to stop. In these moments, remember your mind is trying to help you. You can embrace the intent while disregarding the message.

Our thoughts usually become more critical when we resist them. Have you ever exaggerated your criticism of others when they resisted your feedback? This is what the mind does when you resist its feedback. Alternatively, the mind calms down when we accept and appreciate the intent of its criticism.

We can use VP’s 3-Steps to process all of our critical automatic thoughts including the cruel ones.

Step 1 – Expect the Expected: Everyone experiences critical and hyper-critical automatic thoughts and emotions including feeling like they’re an imposter or not good enough.

Step 2 – Apply SEE:

  • Separate from the inner voice and emotion realizing it’s not YOU. It’s your mind giving you a message.
  • Embrace your thoughts and emotions. If they’re saying something like “you’re stupid,” just realize your mind wants you to perform better. Taking it personally or arguing makes it worse. See it as an alert and not a fact. Observe the message and thank it if for the information.
  • Evaluate if you can learn from the experience or if it’s just part of your process or journey. Consider how you would advise a friend if they had the same experience. Also, realize struggle and failure are part of success.

Step 3 – Control the Controllable: You can’t control all of your results, but you can apply SEE to your thoughts and emotions and continue to improve. You can also embrace your mind’s desire for perfection while setting realistic expectations and acknowledge that no one’s perfect.

Keep applying the 3-Steps to your inner voice and notice the changes that occur.

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