How “Doses Of Criticism” Are Like “Doses Of Medicines” Part II

By: Detri McGhee

The last time we were together, we looked at how “doses” of criticism can be likened to “doses” of medicine. We considered analogy #1: The dosage must be administered properly to avoid serious side-effects, or at least unnecessary discomfort. Many books have been written on how to give constructive criticism. You may have read quite a few of those through the years and hopefully benefitted from their wisdom. However, there is much less help on how to cope with life’s multitudes of criticisms in ways that enable us to benefit rather than be harmed by criticisms. Uncovering that wisdom has been my desire, and over the course of 40+ years, I have given much thought and study to the quest. A point to consider here is that we cannot usually dictate HOW criticism will be delivered to us. And, we are unwise to refuse to consider criticism if it comes from a source we don’t like or is delivered in an embarrassing or inappropriate way. But a more important truth to develop deep in our psyche is the understanding that how deeply any other person’s words, thoughts, and judgments can control us is 100% OUR CHOICE. If someone “ruins my day,” it can only be with my permission! That power is MINE, and I am the only one who can choose to give that power to someone else.

That can be a bit frustrating when we realize how true it is. It means we must accept and USE the authority we have to control and manage our emotions, feelings, thoughts, and actions. No more blaming others! How much fun is that?!

While there are many more lessons to learn from point #1, let’s move on to analogy #2: Criticism, like drugs, can be life-giving, life-altering, or even life-taking. What do the following true-life headline makers have in common?

· Eleven – & 13-year-old boys ambush innocent teachers & classmates

· Estranged husband murders wife and 3 small children

· Depressed teen attempts suicide when rejected by girlfriend

· High school star athlete beats girlfriend who attempts break-up

· Jessica Savage, once-famous newscaster, hid severe emotional problems from childhood rejection by her father

In every scenario, these horrible actions were committed by those who never learned how to appropriately handle criticism. They were so negatively affected by the rejection, criticism, bullying of others, that they believed they had the right to act as they did. The pain they experienced was so great that their only thoughts were anger, revenge, and causing pain to others.

Before we dish out criticism, and act as judge/jury/executioner toward others, we would be wise to consider the potential effects of such actions. Remember, you can choose to bully someone, but you cannot choose the consequences. You can choose to call people names, place labels on them, criticize their work, or looks or possessions…but you cannot choose their response. And, in today’s world, those possibilities are far more dangerous than ever before. Much of the criticism we receive today is likely unnecessary. But, when it IS needed, we must show wisdom and maturity in choosing how, when, and where we will respond.

Whether you are giving or receiving criticism, may I encourage you to ACT, rather than REACT, and remember that the choices you make do have consequences. Think things through and develop within your own self the ability to handle whatever comes your way with wisdom, control, and thought. I would love to hear your thoughts.

By: Detri McGhee

Certified Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Counselor