If I had to ask if you are good at accepting criticism, what would your answer be? Most of us would answer no. Let’s face it, it’s human nature to not love criticism, even when it comes in the constructive variety. Fewer of us are good at accepting compliment as well because as much as we might dread criticism, many of us tend to be even more painfully uncomfortable with compliments. And if you ask me, this doesn’t make any sense.
Why do we lack grace when it comes to acceptance of both these forms of feedback? It’s utterly bizarre and wildly nonsensical. But it’s something I’ve seen among so many people, most especially myself.
I think the reason that many of us struggle with accepting compliments is the exact same reason why many of us struggle with accepting criticism. It comes down to a lack of assurance in our own individual worth, and the way both compliments and criticism make us increasingly aware of this reality.
I want to clarify that when I talk about a lack of assurance in our worth, I’m not necessarily talking about a complete lack of self-esteem here. I believe those are two different things. What I’m referring to is less about liking yourself, and more about knowing who you are.
More specifically, it’s about knowing who you are in an unshakable, impermeable way. Self-worth is something I’ve worked on for many years now, and while I’ve grown exponentially in this area, that complete comfort in my own identity is something I am still trying to achieve.
I BELIEVE THAT WHEN A PERSON HAS AN INNATE SENSE OF SELF-WORTH, BOTH COMPLIMENTS AND CRITICISM BECOME EASY TO HEAR, ABSORB, AND ACCEPT.
One of the ways that has truly helped me is by being my own best friend. What does this mean?
It means that when I think or say something negative about myself, I put on my ‘best friend hat’and rewind. I ask myself how I would respond if someone were to say those very same words about one of my nearest and dearest? I’d no doubt defend them to the ends of the earth, and so I engage in that exact same inner dialogue on behalf of myself.
It means playing the ‘compliment’ game we tend to play with our besties when we see them for the first time. You know what I’m talking about … You compliment their hair, their skin, their new job, their cute dog … Every night before bed, I reflect on how I made myself proud that day. Through this habit, I pay myself an honest and true compliment every single night.
It means having the same level of honesty that we owe to our closest companions. This of course, is where the criticism comes in. Self-worth should not be about false confidence, but rather it should be about authenticity and truth. So at bedtime, after I’ve paid myself that daily compliment, I also ask myself how I could have done better. Is there somewhere I went wrong or a way that I could be doing more? I answer the question without holding back, and my inner best friend thanks me for it.
Lastly, it means taking care of myself in the way I’d take care of anyone else I loved. This means feeding myself healthy food and moving my body as often as possible. This means taking time to nourish my soul with quiet time, good books, and occasional Netflix marathons. This means pushing myself past my comfort zone, but also knowing when to slow down and just breathe. This means nourishing my soul in the best way I can, because I am now starting to believe that I am worth it.