Mind & Heart United



“Sometimes a put-down is the best fuel to fire you up”, is the message of Marie Forleo, a successful entrepreneur and unshakable optimist. I can imaging that a lots of people struggle with:
a) even accepting such a statement as the attitude for self-empowerment;
b) those who have the courage to consider this as an effective tool in day-to-day-practice, have difficulties to translate it into the actual actions.

Those who are open to it, let’s see how it works when dealing with… CRITICISM.

Staying authentic and acting from a place of self-worthiness

When I started this article I had a particular story in mind related to my personal experience at work. Though allow me not to go into any detail because the value is not so much in the story itself but in the process of handling the critique. I genuinely believe we can deal with negative messages in a positive and much stronger way if we learn “responding” and not “reacting” on the situation. I define a strong constructive approach as engaging in conversation from a place of self-worthiness. It means the cultivation of courage, (self)compassion and a mindful focus on self-development even in a moment of heat. No matter what others think and say about you and how much is left undone, I’m enough. It’s a deep awareness and solid conviction that although you aren’t perfect, you are capable and skilled to recognise opportunities to expand your skills and talents. And from this very perspective we consider and treat the critique no longer as a setback or threat but an opportunity for self-growth. The only thing you need is practice.

From being in control to owning your story

If you know in advance that such a conversation will take place, use the opportunity to prepare yourself for it mentally. It means to place a few things in your head in a way that helps you cocreate during the conversation. The keyword is cocreate! Not to struggle, not to oppose, not trying to prove your point of view but cocreate. This should be your mantra to the very end of the conversation.

  1. In order to own your story you need to know your story better than anybody else.
  • Analyse your actions thoroughly in advance. The questions you could ask yourself are:
  • Have I actually done something that I should haven’t? If yes,what exactly.
  • Did I have the power at that moment to act differently? If yes, what exactly.
  • Why did I act the way I did? Be specific and clear on the reason.
  • What stopped me from acting differently? Be specific in your arguments.
  • What evidence do I have to support my arguments? Be specific and targeted.

When analysing the situation, avoid any kind of judgement , neither about yourself nor about the others involved. Just focus on the facts and register them in your mind as the data to work with.

  1. Cultivate the attitude of a coaching observer whose objective it is to objectively evaluate the situation. Get your own feelings out of the way for a moment. See it as you were a coach to train yourself in this situation. This will help you not to be distracted by negative biases and fall into the trap of negative anxious thinking.

  2. Admit your own mistakes to yourself first. Be grateful to yourself for the efforts you’ve done to reach the result. And very importantly thank yourself for what has been done instead of judging yourself for what went wrong. Be a friend to yourself and stay positive in self-reflection. This skill is worth a great deal. And not much people treat themselves with kindness.

  3. Think of possible solutions and keep them in mind for the conversation when the moment comes to present them.

  4. Face all possible critiques that could have been made in this regard. Think of similar situations, think of past experiences, what could have been said and what you have already heard before. Live it through before the conversation and get done with it. The idea is not to put yourself down or to lower your self-esteem, but to get it off your chest.

  5. Set a goal for the conversation which will make you stronger. The critic is entitled to his/her own opinion. Usual reflective behaviour when being criticised is to try to prove him/her wrong. Your goal should be to try and bring the points of critique in perspective if possible, so you can more or less balance the perception of his/her vision. Operating with facts and examples that objectively reflect your efforts in the view of the critic, stay focused on what you could and can do. Most probably he/she is struggling with negative biases and reacts out of fear.

  6. It’s also very crucial how you perceive the critic. When the conversation is taking place, hold on to the idea that you are enough and the critic is your “friend”. It might sound strange but if you think about it. What we think defines what we feel, and how we feel ultimately defines how we act. So, if you see him/her as the “enemy” you won’t be able to react constructively. This attitude will most usually reflect defensive behaviour on your part. Which will accordingly resonate in a defensive behaviour on his/her behalf. Believe me, it will be a very different story if you find the way to treat the critic as your friend and you are there to help solve his/her problems.

If we focus not on the result but on the learning process and the power of self-kindness, it gives us the feeling of self-confidence and makes us wired for a better future. It fuels us with vitality to lead a healthy life. This way the result will ultimately be defined by mindful positive responding out of respect and clear vision of your strengths. When we manage our story out of strength of potential capacity within, a place of self-worthiness and not out of fear and/or judgement, we own our story. We avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling. We stay strong with what we truly are.

Quote by Nataliya Dolinska: “Critique is like hot spices to bring yourself on the next level.”

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