Tell me I am wrong

The heavens say otherwise.

In a recent post on handling arguments, Ed mentioned that nobody likes being told they are wrong. I thought it was an interesting perspective because I do not mind others pointing out my mistakes. In fact, I welcome it, if not actively seek it.

The input helps me improve whatever it is I am trying to do. Maybe there is a better way or maybe I missed something. Often, I ask Markus what he thinks of my idea because I am pretty sure he has a better one.

As it stands, the criticism is important to me because it allows me to grow and add the necessary fixes so what is bad can be good and what is good can be great. My own evaluation is not always accurate, after all, but I am working on it.

The Dalai Lama said, and I agree, that “If you realize that you are inadequate in some way, then you develop effort.”

I was not born with this open mind though, if that is what you call it. In fact, getting criticized is one of the banes of people with my personality type. Why it does not apply to me is because of my mother. Her singular goal in life is to “raise good kids” following a set standard that she believed outstanding to society. 

As far as I could remember, everything I did was evaluated with an emphasis on “doing it right” or “becoming better”.

When I did something perceived as good, the praise rained from the heavens. When I did something perceived as bad, my mother hit me in a way known today as child abuse. But good or bad, she always explained why the consequence was given and how it will help me better myself.

With this kind of upbringing, how can your everyday criticism affect me negatively?

I understand that people are opinionated and I can use this information to build on my goals and projects. Some critiques are more useful than others, of course, and I simply take the pieces that give me a new perspective constructively and toss the rest in the bin.

I suppose it also helps that I know who I am regardless of other’s approval or disapproval. It really changes nothing.

Also, it is worth mentioning that some criticisms are mainly about the person giving it than the one receiving it. And that is okay.

How do you approach criticisms?

***

Micah has never been shy about criticism, while I’m just coming out of a phase of being extremely hesitant about it.

So, what’s so hard about criticism? The obvious take is that nobody likes to be criticized and have the flaws in themselves or their actions pointed out. But that doesn’t really answer the question – criticism can be good, after all. What is it, then, that really differentiates good from bad criticism?

There are lots of factors that play into this, of course. Not least of which everyone’s own attitude. But one of the biggest factors, in my opinion, is shame.

Shame, shame, shame.

I listened to a great book recently: So you’ve been publicly shamed, by Jon Ronson. Next to telling some great stories, the book makes one thing abundantly clear: Shame and the avoidance of it play a massive role in our daily lives.

Such a role does shame play in our lives that entire codes of conduct and methods of punishment have been developed based on it. In many cases, being publically shamed can be a fate worse than death.

Bad criticism shames, while good criticism doesn’t. I used to enjoy being good at pointing out flaws in things and people. When I noticed the effect it could have, I stopped – but that also meant I no longer offered valuable criticism as well.

Now, I’m back to criticizing with a passion. But I’d like to think that now it’s wrapped up in empathy, understanding, and encouragement. That way, I get to have the criticism cake and eat it, too.

Published by Markus + Micah

We are Markus + Micah. We live in a tiny house by the sea, grow our plants, cook plant-based food, travel, and design wellness retreats and mindful programs so we can all live meaningful lives.

48 thoughts on “Tell me I am wrong

  1. Yes, and self-educate.

    Regarding very-early-life trauma, people tend to know (perhaps commonsensically) that they should not loudly quarrel when, for instance, a baby is in the next room; however, do they know about the intricacies of why not? Since it cannot fight or flight, a baby stuck in a crib on its back hearing parental discord in the next room can only “move into a third neurological state, known as a ‘freeze’ state … This freeze state is a trauma state” (Childhood Disrupted, pg.123). This causes its brain to improperly develop.

    Also, how many non-academics are aware that it’s the unpredictability of a stressor, and not the intensity, that does the most harm? When the stressor “is completely predictable, even if it is more traumatic — such as giving a [laboratory] rat a regularly scheduled foot shock accompanied by a sharp, loud sound — the stress does not create these exact same [negative] brain changes.” (pg.42)

    I did not know any of the above until I heavily researched the topic for specifics.

    (P.S. The tabby in the photo above looks like he/she has a lot to say.)

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    1. Yes, your points highlight the importance of personal accountability and self-development. Otherwise, humanity will be trapped in this not very pleasant cycle of trauma, anxiety, and hate. Really worrisome, especially with mass psychosis seeming to affect some parts of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are correct. I can’t help wondering, how many instances there have been wherein immense long-term suffering by children of dysfunctional rearing might have been prevented had the parent(s) received, as high school students, some crucial child development science education by way of mandatory curriculum? (After all, dysfunctional and/or abusive parents, for example, may not have had the chance to be anything else due to their lack of such education and their own dysfunctional/abusive rearing as children.)

    I believe the wellbeing of all children — and not just what other parents’ children might/will cost us as future criminals or costly cases of government care, etcetera — should be of great importance to us all, regardless of whether we’re doing a great job with our own developing children. But I’m not holding my breath, as I’ve found that most people are pessimistic and/or hostile towards such concepts. (To many people, they sound too much like socialism or communism.)

    Regardless, a psychologically and emotionally sound (as well as a physically healthy) future should be every child’s foremost right, especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter.

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    1. I share your concerns. Just that I am not sure if the government can provide us with this kind of education any time soon. What we can do now though is work on ourselves and heal as individuals so that children of the future will not have to heal from their parents.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practicing medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.”
    (Childhood Disrupted, pg.228).

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  4. Well, there’s criticisms that can make you do better and there’s those criticisms that comes out of insecurities. We just have to be open minded and choose which ones to take in.

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  5. I haven’t always been open to criticism. My parents were perfectionists too. Though they didn’t beat me, they were the type who will be disappointed if i ever bring home a report card with grades lower than 95. And that kind of thing makes you more anxious to make mistakes and to receive criticism. But I guess the more you work with people and really expose yourself to feedback is the right way to not only get used to it but to appreciate it as a tool for self improvement.

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    1. Yeah, it’s crazy how much impact our upbringing has on these things. I still tend to get anxious about “failing” at things today, just because I somehow caught that state of mind as a child.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s definitely something i think of every day with my son. That I’d be a successful parent if i don’t give him any kind of anxiety. Hoping for the best 😅

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  6. Very well said and super interesting. I personnaly struggle a bit with criticism and I think is also has to do with shame, even though I rationally know that there is nothing to be ashamed of when being wrong. I think I am getting better though. However, I still think there are good and bad ways to point out the flaws in other peoples’s work and opinions, and the person who criticises also needs to have an open mind!

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  7. Germans like to correct people though its none of their business so everything is in order… i find it strange.. it is a bit different from what i was used to in my barangay.

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    1. I guess lots of people get a kick out of showing other people they’re wrong. Bad on them, really. But many people, especially Germans, also sincerely mean well, they just don’t know how to communicate so that it doesn’t sound harsh.

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  8. There are a couple of things that come to mind. First, intimate relationships can be one of the most challenging situations where folks have to come to terms with their old baggage and behaviors. Some people can be incompatible, so criticisms, no matter how well meaning, doesn’t resolve the issues. Sometimes compromises work and other times they don’t. Relationships are so nuanced, situational — and what if you’re receiving criticism that holds some truth but not completely?

    Grey divorce is on the rise, which seems incredible to me, but it’s a testament that being a couple is a complex and unique journey that I don’t believe any amount of “honest criticism” can fix.

    Secondly, work and school are both places where folks carry a lifetime of scars from being “criticized”. There’s also this assumption that everyone wants to ‘self-develop’ or that they hold the same values as the person dishing out the criticism.

    Giving constructive criticism, in my experience, is a rare gift. But I get it, reality TV shows where the panel doles out their judgement has made it seem sexier…

    Years ago, I was at work when a colleague, Mary, joined my desk mate, Cindy and I – and just gushed about how she was going to do this exciting new thing. It was a bit far-fetched but Cindy looked up at her and said, “You go for it, girl.” When Mary left, I said, “Do you really think…?” To which Cindy replied, “I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to be the kind of person who told someone they couldn’t do something. Who I am to know?”

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  9. Such an open and honest post! I think it is hard to hear criticism, but it is even harder to provide constructive feedback in an emphatic and kind way, so quite often we tend to believe that we can’t accept criticism but in reality the issue is the way the criticism was provided!

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  10. As I learned to write for public consumption, I also learned about the value of criticism, especially as it’s used in writers’ groups. One key concept: first, always point out what’s good or enjoyable, then dive into what you found needs work, and finally, end on a positive. That way, your constructive (emphasis on constructive) criticism is more likely to be heard, considered, and be of benefit. This approach is what makes the writer/editor relationship work. It applies equally to most relationships.

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  11. Bad criticism shames, while good criticism doesn’t.

    That is the truth of it. I don’t often criticize people because I’ve never thought it was my job to change people. I’ll help someone if they ask for it, but even then I’d prefer to say things in a way that allows them to discover their own truth, not me hitting them over the head with it. As for receiving criticism, I appreciate sincere criticism, so I consider the source before I take it seriously.

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  12. So true. Criticism is good for progress. LOL. Easier said than done, though. People get upset when being criticized. Sometimes even just a hint of allusion to a non-positive response can cause offense.

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  13. Humility and willingness to accept criticism, even when done in a hurtful way, is the hallmark of a high consciousness person. I endeavor to be that kind of person and even when unjustly told that I am “tanga” I try to focus on what I can learn from it and how I can come across as a little less tanga from the standpoint of Filipinos and Filipinas who are going through buwanang dalaw

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  14. This is an excellent post. It all depends on the purpose of the criticism. Hopefully, whether given or received, it comes from the heart with the purpose of making something better. I have also read that it takes six positive comments “to make up for” one negative comment. So, I like to keep my negatives to a minimum because multiples of six can add up fast. 🙂 Your post reminds me of Clark Howard’s podcast where every Friday, he has a “Clark Stinks” segment.

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    1. That sounds like a fun segment! And yes, negative criticism rarely does a lot of good, no? As you say, just making sure criticism comes from a place of love can make all the difference in the world.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This week has been rather busy…great to know that there are humble people out there who welcome criticism.
        I have to be particularly careful not to hurt the feelings of the people I interact with.

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  15. I was taught to criticise a book or an essay at school and that is ‘criticism’ as a serious evaluation of something. On the other hand, my parents always ‘criticised’ my long hair and that is expressing disapproval. I wish my parents had given my long hair a serious evaluation rather than their disapproval 😉🤣🙏

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  16. I was taught to criticise a book or an essay at school and that is ‘criticism’ as a serious evaluation of something. On the other hand, my parents always ‘criticised my long hair and that is expressing disapproval. I wish my parents had given my long hair a serious evaluation rather than their disapproval 😉🤣🙏

    Like

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