Virtue and genuine graces in themselves speak what no words can utter.

~ William Shakespeare ~

Living With a Critic

April 15th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 54 secs

How do you cope with a critic?

Criticism has its place, but critics are hard yards. If you live with a critic you know: with each critical comment they wear you down. Trying to get a positive comment from them is like squeezing blood from a boulder. But when it comes to blaming… try finding their off button!

Die-hard critics define their life by all that’s gone wrong and will do in the future. Playing this game ensures they can’t win. Nor will they ever break even. Yet, inside their criticizing mind, there must be a tiny seed of hope. A vestige of long ago when they believed in better and knew what joy was like. But since then, they’ve let their optimism fizzle. Now, whatever is wrong, faulty, or deeply disappointing is all that captures their attention.

For the completely critical, criticizing is an attempt at wresting control over discouragement. As if, by declaring things bad before they really are, they take the upper hand. But such sneering and cynicism is incredibly wearisome to live with, isn’t it? Even when you love someone despite their critical commentary, it’s hard not to feel tainted. Or simply, shut down.

In public life, paid critics that denigrate people are tarred with the same brush. Getting a laugh or scoring a point by ridiculing others is a kind of power play. It can be witty; even entertaining. But it all too easily descends into ugliness.

I wish there was an easy answer to stave off what critics do. But there isn’t. They are tough to love, and demand incredible stamina to repeatedly face. Ideally, I would choose my moment with a habitual critic and say, “Do you know your words are pushing away the people who care about you?” Yet, because critics try to look smart by picking things apart, they don’t let go of their mindset easily. So it takes guts to confront a critic and an incredible amount of stamina. Plus love that’s willing to hug a grump.

So how do you survive your critic? With help. If possible, avoid letting them critically control you. Talk to others to put the venom into perspective. Like a disease, a critic’s contagion should not be allowed to spread. So you need the support and kindness of others who know what you’re going through.

Tune out when you must, and ration your contact if need be. But make sure your influence reflects your own beliefs. Dismiss your critic’s thinking by giving them less credibility. Then toughen your skin to tackle situations with the consideration you usually use. That way, you not only survive the negativity, but demonstrate to your critic that there’s so much more to enjoy. The rest is up to them.


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