It’s Easy to Criticize

Our worth does not come from pleasing other people. We can’t make everyone happy. We are not pizza. We do not exist to please others.

I have to work really hard at this. I’m failing at it pretty regularly. As a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, negative feedback can triggering for me.

Some feedback isn’t worthwhile. Some feedback isn’t helpful. Some feedback isn’t constructive.

Some feedback is just plain hurtful.

I’m working on being OK even when I get that kind of feedback. We have to be able to recover and recover quickly when we hear hard things. Especially when those hard things are a bit…well…petty.

Because there is always something we could complain about.

-The room was too cold.

-The room was too warm.

-There weren’t enough ketchup packets in the provided boxed lunch.

-When you made us self-care, that felt like one more thing on top of the things.

And basically, all feedback that feels judgey like “Why did you do this way when could have/should have done it this way?”

When life is hard, and it sure is right now, it’s easy to be hard on other people. It’s pretty easy to find fault and complain. So, I try to remember this when someone is mad about the number of ketchup packets. I try to remember this when people complain about things that they could actually make better themselves in some way. I try to remember that this is a professional who has a lot going on right now. I try to go about my day, what I do control, and I try to be ridiculously in charge of getting better at things that matter deeply. I try to remember that we can’t do the adulting for all of the adults.

But I’m also trying to let these moments teach me about myself. I’m working on complaining less and contributing more. I’m working on training my mind to see the good, celebrate the good, and be the good.

I’m working on responding to people in distress in ways that center both their humanity and my own. The other day I had an issue with a shipped gift. I was irritated that it had not arrived in over five days even though I paid for two day shipping. I called customer service to see if there was anything they could do and to share my frustration.

The customer service agent couldn’t do much. But he was willing to call the shipping company on my behalf -with me on the line- to plead my case. We didn’t solve the issue, but he did entertain me at the end of the call when he said, “Well, if this package doesn’t make it by Monday, give me a call back and I will go knuckles up with this shipping company.”

That gave me a good laugh. He wanted me to feel heard and like he cared. We both knew that the situation didn’t warrant violence. We both moved on with our days.

The more our brain experiences something the more it wants what it knows. So, if we fill our brains and our air time with complaints, our brain will want to keep doing it. If we fill our brains with the good stuff, our brains will continue to want to see the good. It doesn’t mean we ignore what’s hard. It doesn’t mean we can’t talk about what’s hard. It means that for our sake and the sake of others, we don’t live there for too long. That’s all.

What is something you find yourself wanting to complain about? Ask yourself, “Will complaining about this make me feel better? Is it productive? Is it helpful?” If the answers are no or uncertain, try not complaining about it and see how that makes you feel.

What is something that’s going well right now and why? Have you told the people involved with specificity what you’ve noticed? Pass along that positive feedback and see how that makes you feel.

What if a big part of our self-care and school cultures is where we choose to put our time and attention? What we choose to give voice to?

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