The past few weeks have been interesting, I’ve not taken as much time to write, and have been silent doing mostly reflecting. I had a conversation with a friend, and received some unexpected criticism. Although I didn’t initially take it seriously, in the weeks since I’ve mostly spent time processing the comments. I haven’t talked to others much, but in doing so, I feel as though it gave me a chance to look inward for help. Most importantly I didn’t go to the people I know will most likely validate my view of things, I took time to process thoughts that turned into doubt and negativity. In writing this I’m reminded of a valuable lesson, not because you don’t intend for something to sound negative means it won’t be received that way. While I’m sure there is a definition of criticism, it felt to me that it was something that tore me down, and didn’t give me an answer on what to do differently. Compared to Constructive Criticism, although you are torn down, you still receive feedback on how to fix or do things differently. One of the reasons I choose to write and put my words out there is to be seen. In my moment of self doubt, a friend posted a link about receiving criticism, imagine that just when I was facing the same struggle, someone posted something to pick me up. That’s why I choose to put my words and thoughts out there, because I never know when and how my words can help to build someone back up. To get a better understanding of what I’m talking about check out Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Criticism “Why your Critics aren’t the ones who count.” In her talk this quote resonated with me and I thought I’d share it also.
” It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
Before getting into what I was able to learn in my moment of Reflection, I’d like to share a few more thoughts from Brene Brown’s TED Talk that resonated with me. As I mentioned earlier, I decided to write because I wanted my words to help lift up others. If you’re like me, you probably struggle in silence, you don’t tell everyone, perhaps maybe a select few know your struggles. The great thing about social media, is that you can read how others are handling their struggles, learn those strategies without having to come out from your cave; as an Introvert with extroverted qualities life can’t get any better than that! While I’m making it a goal to be more vulnerable, putting myself out there is still scary, and I don’t quite trust everyone with my story just yet. By putting myself out there I WILL receive criticism, be misunderstood, and be judged. The 3 Keys Brene identified as being central to anyone who put’s them-self out there are:
- Show up, and be Seen. Be seen in your work and the life you live.
- This is who I want to be, I want to create something. If I’m going to be in the Arena, I will get my butt kicked.
- If you’re not in the Arena (also getting your butt kicked), I’m not interested in your feedback.
So what are some of the thoughts that spiraled me inward filled with self-doubt. I want to first acknowledge that what follows is not exactly what was said, but this is what I heard and the way I interpreted it, and I wrote it down afterwards: – I was told that I’m projecting an image that isn’t what I actually am, not actually being vulnerable. – My thoughts aren’t my own, I don’t have an original thought, everything I’ve said or done has come from a book, or from someone else (this is the one that really resonated with me, ouch). -My communication skills aren’t as great as I seem to think. I do things because I want others to think I’m smart, or more intelligent than they are. I’ve dealt with most of these, and searched my heart, and I’m ok with where I am. Many of those comments are misunderstandings, and perhaps a window into the thoughts of a friend that doesn’t actually know me. Although I do act confidently, you will NEVER hear me being boastful about anything I do, in many cases I down play my accomplishments. As for my image or communication style, in my mind I’ve never considered myself an expert in anything I do. If anything the philosophy I hold is that there are a lot of things I don’t know, but I’m always open to learning new things, just as long as they’re rooted in facts and figures rather than emotions. I do act confidently in anything I do, I take things with a kind of I’m going to do it attitude, rather than say I’ll try to do it (probably because as a Marine, CAN’T or I’LL TRY aren’t things that you said unless you wanted to be called all kinds of names, or better yet getting your ass kicked for acting like a wimp).
Despite the self-doubt I was able to look at myself critically and came away with a few points to work on, and do better each day:
- I consider myself being better at communication than the average person, but not even close to being an expert, it’s something I’m also passionate about studying further. However I must acknowledge that despite my best efforts, others WILL misunderstand me from time to time. I can try to cut down on that my being clear about my intentions, and asking questions to make sure that my message received, was what I intended for the other person to hear.
- Be aware that when I put my thoughts out there others may be judging me. I want to be aware of my tone, do I sound condescending or as if I’m putting down?
- How is my attitude or appearance effecting what people hear. Sometimes I believe that my ethnic background with my national origin may complicate the picture. What I mean by that is that I was raised in a different educational system, and sometimes I find that I’m switching between that system and the now American system I’m now accustomed to. I’m not saying that one system is better than the other, but they are certainly different. Sometimes I wonder how that complicates the image people see of me.
- Learn to embrace negativity and criticism. Although it’s not my view, it’s still a window into how the other person is interpreting me.
- Although I like interacting with people, sometimes I can be a bit cold or aloof with some people. It’s not meant to seem as though I dislike you, or have any nefarious thoughts, it’s just that we’re not connecting. I will admit that if I don’t connect with someone, I don’t give it a second thought, I move on with my life. I can see how that would seem cold to some personalities, I should make a better effort to get to know others, even if I feel that we don’t have a connection initially.
- Most importantly remember that unsolicited advice is rarely ever welcomed graciously. I’m a fixer, I like to find problems and fix them. Although my comment on how to fix something I see as a problem with you may come from a good place, sometimes I have to remember to just listen.