Listen with an Open Mind

Most of us respond to criticism by becoming defensive, shutting down(pouting), or running away (and running toward something unhealthy, such as overeating). We develop a lot of dysfunctional strategies as children by watching and imitating our role models.

My mother was extremely deft at verbal aikido, but my grandmother took the passive route. I became a combination of the two until I realized that neither served me well. Learning to diffuse and handle criticism can not only empower you, but can ultimately bring you closer to a peaceful mind.

Try the following techniques: When you receive criticism that feels accurate, simply acknowledge it and move on. Remember that you have created an entire story to support your behavior patterns in order to feel right. Your friends and family have come to different conclusions. It makes perfect sense to pay attention to what their saying. Simply acknowledge, reflect, and then decide if they have any information that might help you. If the criticism sounds unfair, don’t make excuses  or practice “tongue fu” on them, so you can win a battle that is essentially futile. Remember that the person talking to you wants the same validation you do.

For example, if your mother (or significant other) says, “you’re always working. It would be nice if you spent more time with me,” just respond by agreeing, “Yes, it’s true—–I do work a lot”. Then wait for the next statement. If your mom continues nagging you, use a technique called “probing”, “I understand you think I work too much and you’d like to see more of me. I’m willing to try to do better. Do you have any ideas for things we can do together this week?” Some of my favorite ways to respond is to try and get some distance, which in turn takes the heat out of the comments. Try, “What you’re saying is very interesting, let me get back to you on that”. The bottom line is that we all would like our needs met. If we use collaborative methods, we may actually get the brass ring.

Obviously this is a vast subject, and there are no simple answers, but so many of us would benefit from not getting aggravated by people’s criticisms if we would listen with an open mind and not jump into being over reactive.


Enough Said

No one is getting out of this life without experiencing problems. They come when you least expect them and can run the gamut of being serious to mundane.

Years ago problems were looked at as par for the course. My grandmother would gather her cronies for a little coffee and biscotti every once in a while and they would go through everyone’s stuff as if they lawyers. One of them would always act like the judge, either dismissing or condemning the perpetrators who had caused the  suffering of those at the gathering. Most of them would go away satisfied that they had been heard.

Today problems are still discussed with friends and family, but they also have become fodder for the media. A plethora of shows exist  whose primary purpose is to focus on people’s (issues), the new and more exciting word that describes problems. Issues are tantamount to being in dire distress and in need of experts to help a person through their stuff. Dr. Phil  and others have made their fortunes helping individuals navigate their problems, while millions watch them as they are reduced to tears or anger.

Realty shows have gone the next step, making us part of the action so that we, the viewer, is now in concert with the problems. I am always in awe at how many of these shows proliferate and become part of daily conversation. So now you not only discuss your problems but you also discuss the ones that you saw on a particular show.

When my grandmother had a friend who just kept going over the same scenario time and time again without resolution she would lift her hand up in the air and bellow “BASTA” which means enough. She had lost her patience and that was that! I wonder why we don’t hear more of that today? Why do so many of us have to go on and on about the same thing? I recently watched a very funny bit on YouTube with Bob Newhart. He portrayed a psychiatrist who said he could cure patients in five minutes. A young woman came in with a host of problems and when she was done speaking he said” are you ready for the cure”? “Yes”, she said. “Okay then”, just stop it! I’d like to add, get over it, do something about it, and stop talking about it. Enough said.


%d bloggers like this: