Recently I was criticised by a complete stranger.
She knew nothing about me, nothing about my business, nothing about my desire to heal and spread self-love to every woman I meet...
She was in a Facebook group I had recently joined. We had never interacted before. Indeed this was one of my very first posts in the group.
I had posed a question in the group and she responded in quite a reactive and dismissive way which left me feeling a bit confused.
In response to her remark and in an attempt to help her by sharing my knowledge and experience, I decided to share a blogpost I had recently written on the very topic she had touched on in her remarks; a blogpost designed to help exactly how she felt.
But that was a mistake. Because it only encouraged her to come back with more fire. And that, in turn, left me feeling very confused and hurt.
What I had failed to realise was that my initial post had triggered her in some way. And by then sending her more information which I felt would help her, I was only pouring fuel on her fire.
Here's the thing.
What you say and what you do will not be in alignment with everyone you meet. What you say and what you do can and will trigger some people. And when people are triggered they become defensive and sometimes even aggressive. And they will criticise what you do or they'll criticise you directly.
No matter how innocent your question may be, no matter how helpful your intention may be, when someone is triggered they can and often do say hurtful things because, in reality, they're feeling vulnerable. With vulnerability comes the fear of being hurt. And when we fear being hurt, we immediately create a defensive wall.
If you can't see what's happening, if you don't immediately spot that the person you are talking to is being triggered, and, in fairness, in the heat of the moment it's often easy to miss, you will struggle to understand their criticism and you'll feel hurt, just like me. 'Coz criticism is tough. Heck, criticism sucks!
But criticism can teach us three things:
- when we recognise that we have, in some way, triggered someone, we can avoid being triggered ourselves in return, and, so, avoid those feelings of hurt, anger and defensiveness that accompany the feeling of being triggered.
- we are not here to serve, help or heal everyone. Our aim should be to serve, help and heal those who are open and receptive to what we offer. We're not here to convert or force ourselves on those who are not ready for us or open to receive.
- when someone criticises or is triggered by you or what you do, you've touched on an insecurity in their life which means that the path you've chosen to follow and the person you've chosen to become is someone that others, who are open and receptive to you, need.
It can be, and is, tough to stand up to criticism while keeping your head. But it's something that's necessary as, for many people, cristicism is a way of life. It's a protective shield that they choose to hide behind.
In the past when I've been criticised, I would crawl under the nearest rock and hide for months. I'd scrutinise every single thing I'd written, I'd scrutinse my choices and decisons, I'd scrutinise me. Insecurity and doubt would breed inside me like a disease. Because criticism is tough. Because criticism implies that people don't like you. And, well, we all want to be liked because not being liked, being rejected, feeling confronted... that makes us feel really uncomfortable; it plays on our insecurities.
But listening to criticism, rather than running away from it and hiding, has taught me the 3 things I've listed above. And now I use it as a tool to grow personally and to grow my business. I've grown, not necessarily in self-confidence but in self-respect as a result of all the months of self-care and self-love I've dedicated to myself.
And I've also grown in self-love for my business and the gifts I've been so generously given by the Universe, because I know my goal is to create something that matters, something that will benefit the lives of others who cross my path.
So now when someone is triggered by me or what I do and they criticise me, I thank them silently, because I know they are not yet ready to receive what I have to offer. And that's okay. I know there are lovely souls who will cross my path, souls who are ready to heal, flourish and blossom.
Next time someone criticises you, I invite you to acknowledge that they are simply being triggered and defending themselves. It's nothing personal about you. And also, remember the 3 lessons that criticism teaches you.