Constructive Criticism: Can Toxic Shame Stop Someone From Being Able To Accept Constructive Criticism?
One person could watch a film and think it’s one of the best films ever, and another could watch the same film and believe it is one of the worst. What this shows is how people have different outlooks, and just because one person likes something, it doesn’t me another person will.
Now, this could be because what fulfils one persons needs doesn’t fulfil another’s, or it could be due to another reason. If it relates to another reason, it could come down to the fact that one person is being ‘subjective’ and the other is being ‘objective’.
Another way of looking at this would be to say that if one person likes something, it doesn’t matter whether it looks right, tastes as it should or sounds perfect, for instance, what matters is that they enjoy it. Whereas, the other person could believe that something has to look right, taste as it should or sound right.
If the first person was to spend time with the second person, they may end up saying that they are too rigid, and that they need to be more flexible. They may say that it is not necessary for something to be a certain way in order for it to be enjoyable.
However, the other person could say that it doesn’t come down to the need to be more flexible, and that there is a reason why things have to be done right. For example, they could say that if something doesn’t taste right, it shows that it hasn’t been cooked properly.
So on one side is going to be the outlook that someone has and how this outlook affects their behaviour, and on the other side, is going to be the effect this has on others. If someone generally appreciates something regardless of whether it is ‘done right’, they are likely to have a positive impact on others.
Yet, if someone has the opposite outlook, they may end up having a negative effect on others. They could be seen as someone who is highly critical, and this could cause others to avoid them.
But even though the first person is generally going to have a positive effect on others, they could also be seen as someone who doesn’t always speak their mind. And while some people will see the other person as being highly critical, there are going to be others who see them as someone who speaks their mind.
What this shows is that this is not black and white, and that there will be times when one will be able to enjoy something no matter how it is done, and other times when they will need to speak up if it isn’t done in a certain way.
If someone has a young child, and they go and watch them take part in a play, it will be important for them to appreciate what they have done. This doesn’t mean they have to act as though they were amazing (that’s if this isn’t the case), but at such a young age it is more about the fact they were involved, and not on how well they acted.
They are showing their support, and this will play a vital role in their child being able to grow into a well-adjusted adult. If their child still wanted to act as the years passed by, it will be important for them to give constructive feedback.
The Other Side
Unless they do this, they could stop them from moving forward, and they could also end up believing that they are better than they are. When someone is learning how to drive a car, for instance, it is going to be important for them to receive constructive criticism.
The reason for is that if they don’t drive in the right way, they might not only harm themselves, they could also harm others. As a result of this, it is not possible for their driving instructor to just overlook what they are doing wrong.
This constructive criticism will allow them to realise what they are doing wrong, and it will then be possible for them to do the right things. There is no need for them to be critical for the sake of it, and to shame their student.
If they were to do this, it might undermine their self-confidence, and their driving could get even worse. However, although one will expect to receive constructive criticism in this context, it is not always going to be the case in other areas of their life.
There will be times where people are critical for no reason, or if they do have a reason, they are not going to take the time to offer constructive criticism. Instead, they will use the opportunity to put another person down, and to shame them.
Destructive criticism is going to have a negative effect on most people, but just because someone offers constructive criticism, it doesn’t mean that it will be taken in the right way. One could end up feeling as though they are being attacked, and it won’t matter whether they are on the receiving end of constructive or destructive criticism.
When they feel as though they are being attacked, it is likely to come down to how they are interpreting what is being said. This can be sign that they are unable to hear what is being said, and this could be because of how they see themselves.
On the inside, they may believe that they are inherently flawed, and that there is something wrong with them. If this is the case, it is likely to mean that they are carrying toxic shame.
So instead of them being able to hear what is being said without taking it personally, or only having the odd moments where they do take what they hear personally, everything they hear is going to be ‘taken to heart’. It then won’t matter what other peoples intentions are, or even if they realise that it wasn’t meant to cause them harm.
Toxic shame is going to make one feel as though they are worthless, and this not just going to relate to what they believe, it is going to be something that has infiltrated their whole being.
The reason one feels as though they are less-than human is likely to come down to what took place during their childhood years. This would have been a time where their needs and wants were rarely, if ever, met.
Instead, one would have been abused and/or neglected, and this would have caused them to develop the outlook that they have no value. And as they were treated in this way during their formative years, it wouldn’t have been possible for them to realise their inherent worth, and their right to exist.
When it comes to moving beyond this challenge, it will be important for one to let go of the toxic shame that is within them, and for their inherent worth to be affirmed. This is likely to be a time where one will need to grieve their unmet childhood needs, and to tolerate their toxic shame until it begins to discharge.
The assistance of a therapist and/or a support group may be needed here.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.