Rule #19 – Don’t Take It Personally

At the Hyde Schools, we are expected both to offer and to receive constructive criticism of each other’s efforts. Sometimes this expectation causes us to hear some things that we either don’t expect or don’t want to accept. It has also given rise to a critical guideline: “If the shoe fits, wear it. If not, throw it away.”

Criticism can be hard to hear. We encourage people just to open their minds and hearts, take it in, consider it with objectivity, and then decide whether and how to act. Sometimes we find ourselves taking it personally. That’s when the “shoe” guideline can be helpful.

If you have trouble with this, give some thought to an old saying: “It’s none of your business what anyone else thinks about you.” Sounds weird, but it’s true.

Still having trouble? Consider what basketball coach John Wooden said: “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

In his book Feeling Good – The New Mood Therapy, David Burns writes, “…you must realize that it is not other people, or the critical comments they make, that upset you. To repeat, there has never been a single time in your life when the critical comments of some other person upset you – even to a small extent. No matter how vicious, heartless, or cruel these comments may be, they have no power to disturb you or to create even a little bit of discomfort.”

Huh? Burns maintains that such comments merely trigger or amplify thoughts that already lurk somewhere, sometimes deep within yourself. So, if you want to feel better about yourself, then start thinking more highly of yourself. (How?  Start by reading his book. I did and it’s one of the best things I ever did…for myself.)

Burns goes on to say, “Only one person in this world has the power to put you down – and you are that person, no one else!”

Finally, always remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s immortal words: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld