Self-Esteem & Negative Feedback

“Fools’ names & faces appear in public places” is a saying I grew up hearing from my mother. The saying has many good lessons in it. In my family, there was also an often spoken message of don’t try, because you may fail and make a fool of yourself. The whole message became nicely wrapped up in this little phrase. Good and bad connotations alike.

Successes didn’t matter if there was any element of failure in my family. I was straight out told not to accept an advancement at work because I may not be able to do it. There was a pattern of this style of thinking and treatment which made it really hard, nearly impossible for many years, to grow a solid self-esteem and feeling of being capable. Ultimately, I stopped listening and did my own life. There was a long period of time I wouldn’t spend time with my mother unless there was a third party there to help me walk away not if, but when she was being inappropriate and cruel with undermining remarks. I did the self-care and surrounded myself with people who built me up and saw me as strong, capable and taught me things I needed to learn to be fully independent and successful. I got jobs where supervisors insisted that I speak up, share my opinion and experience. I was advanced, given raises and was the go-to person for staff training. I had professors tell me that I had what it takes to succeed in graduate school. I built successes, listened to them, internalized them… and it didn’t matter anymore what anyone else said!!!

Through my experience, I’ve got a way of thinking and interacting with the world which is a bit different than the majority of people. I don’t look at criticism or negative feedback as being personal or threatening. I have sat down with supervisors and co-workers over the years asking for criticism, feedback in areas I can get better, what else can I learn. When I’ve grown stagnant in what I can learn and get better at, it’s time for me to tackle something else for me to master.

I do this in my personal relationships, too. I ask Daddy often if there is anything He would like me to do, learn, get better at, stop doing, change. This is part of being an adult. Taking in criticism and feedback from others about how I relate to them, what they prefer, and choosing to adapt or not.

I’ve developed a very strong sense of self to not only be able to tolerate negative feedback, but to go in search of it and not be hurt/angry. This is something I’ve been praised on many times throughout my career in mental health. What is a sense of self? It’s essentially how you feel about yourself. Self-esteem, feeling capable, self-worth all independent of what others think or feel about you.

I’m writing about this topic today because I realize that I can be blunt at times. I’m not hurt by other’s questioning my logic or ideas. I’m not terribly worried about who likes and me who doesn’t either. When I talk about things or ask questions, or even challenge another… often it is more about learning and helping the other person see a different perspective. I’m also confident of my knowledge and share it freely. When I’m on the receiving end of this, I don’t feel threatened at all. I weigh it and determine it’s validity. I’ve fought tooth and nail that another was wrong only to go back after researching and thinking to apologize and thank them for taking the time to teach me. There is always room for growth!!!

There are times when it’s hard for me to remember what it was like lacking the strength to tolerate bluntness and any form of negative feedback. I expect others to have the same strength of character and self-worth to stand up to criticism.

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