MyMondayTip: Dismiss Slights and Criticism Upfront

Frozen scones will break my bones,

but words will never hurt me.

                                         Unknown Devonshire poet


Unlike that poet from England, you may know that words can hurt a lot. If slights, potshots, and criticism hit your sore point, the impact on your self-esteem can have lasting consequences. It's therefore important to stop the damage right at the beginning. You want to dismiss slights and criticism before they are absorbed by your whole system.


Let the pain be your alarm bell

In the long term, if you work on your self-esteem, the reaction to criticism will change. In the short term all you can do is to limit the damage. And the emotional reaction – as painful as it is in itself – can serve as an alarm bell to notify you that something is wrong. Your reaction is the result of a damaged self-esteem, but it is not a true information. You shouldn't take it at face value. As soon as you feel the pain you can decide that you're going to dismiss any further reaction.


Example: You are sitting in a coffeehouse, trying to get the attention of the waitress. Apparently, she is in a foul mood. Without any further words she takes your order. Now, with a low, damaged self-esteem you will feel mortified. But this very feeling is your wake-up call. You decide to take no further notice of both her behavior and your reaction.


Cut the matter short

This short cut might feel a little bit strange at the beginning. (“Don't I have to think about it? Maybe it was my fault. Or maybe not, then I have to admonish her for her outrageous, abominable behavior. How dare she …” ) But this is exactly the reaction you want to stop, as it only adds salt to injury. Later on, after some practice, it will feel more naturally, because it is the truth: Slights, criticism, and words of all kinds do not affect what you really are, the natural, real self. That is why you can dismiss them upfront.


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