It was a rough few days. Lillie was so excited to be in Annie. She was Duffy, one of the orphans, and she did such a great job. The show was adorable, and I loved it. However, Ella was home fighting a stomach bug. My sweet son Max said that he was going to stay home and take care of Ella instead of going to the show. He gets major brother and son points.
When Lillie got hit with the stomach bug, she was sick for 12 hours and it was over. When Ella got hit with the stomach bug it lasted much longer. I don’t do well when my kids get sick. I talked to her pediatrician’s office for some guidance, and I worked on my self-talk. We all got through it, but it wasn’t easy. Ella bounced back to school today and I hope that she is having a good day.
No one can tell me that masks don’t work. I can’t tell you how many people have said masks don’t work. Maybe they don’t work for Covid? I’m not sure. The masks worked for the stomach bug. Every year my girls get hit with a stomach bug. However, the two years that they wore masks they didn’t bring anything home. I don’t like my kids wearing masks at all. It was also nice having a two-year break from the stomach bug.
I know I am already stressed out and exhausted. I don’t sleep well when my kids are sick. I need to have enough self-awareness to know that when my kids are sick that I don’t sleep well, and my emotions run higher.
When Ella has a show, it is easy and exciting. She isn’t particular about her hair and makeup. In fact, my 13-year-old did her own hair and make up for her last show. My girl is growing up.
When Lillie has a show, it is a whole different ball game. Lillie is very particular about her hair and makeup, and I find it absolutely exhausting and infuriating. It is time for Lillie to start doing her own hair and makeup.
The shows, stomach bug, and lack of sleep were bringing me to an unresourceful place. I felt it. As Lillie criticized me, I felt myself falling deeper into a negative place. Ella wasn’t feeling up to emailing her teachers, so I emailed them for her. Max, in a critical tone told me that it was Ella’s job to do that. “Are you going to email her professors for her too?” He sarcastically asked me. Did I ask him? I’m trying to figure out why people give you comments like that when you didn’t ask them for their perspective. It bugs me and is called unsolicited advice. Wait until someone asks you for your opinion. There are plenty of times that I ask Max or Seth for their opinion. This was not one of them. I was really letting the criticism from Max and Lillie bring me down.
I was driving by myself thinking. Thinking in the car by myself is a great place for me. I am learning to embrace all my driving time. I started thinking about what I thought about myself. Why was I allowing Max and Lillie to make me feel badly? Praise and love don’t have to come from outside sources. I could give it to myself right at this very moment. I didn’t have to wait for anyone, and I didn’t have to listen to anyone.
My speech to myself in the car: “Security comes from within. Praise comes from within. Love comes from within. What do you think of yourself? I think I am a good person who is trying hard to be a good wife and mother. Should you let Max or Lillie affect you like this? No. Then cut it out right now.”
I felt myself taking deep breaths and starting to feel better. I wasn’t in the clear, but I was making progress. Why was I so sensitive to what my husband and kids say to me? Why was I taking any criticism from them so hard? I knew I was tired and irritable. I knew I was stressed out from how sick Ella got. I also knew that I wanted to get better at taking criticism. I didn’t want to let it affect me like this. I wanted to do better. I feel like I am always striving to get better at things.
How can I get better at taking criticism?
- Put down my defenses and listen. What are they saying to me? Do I think they are right? What is their intent? Is this something that I can learn from and grow from?
- Realize that it is okay to make mistakes. The criticism is probably stemming from something that I did wrong and it’s okay to do things wrong. That happens. Cut myself some slack and learn from the mistake and criticism. Realize that I will never reach a place where I will do nothing wrong.
- Question if I even agree? For example, Ella is really good at emailing her teachers. Her not feeling up to it and asking me to do that is not wrong. I’m upset by Max telling me that Ella should email her teachers herself, but I don’t even agree with him. In fact, my friends told me the same thing. If Ella is out of it and not feeling well it is okay for me to step in and email her teachers. That is my opinion. Stand strong with my own opinion and don’t let others’ opinions that I don’t agree with affect me.
- My husband Seth looked me in my eyes and told me that I was enough the other day and I cried. I didn’t realize how hard I was being on myself. If I continuously tell myself that I am enough then any criticism is easier to take. I am enough even with my flaws. I am enough even though I will never be perfect. Perfection is a myth. I am good enough just how I am.
- Realize that it’s okay to care about the criticism that I receive from people that I respect and care about. Use my caring as fuel to do better.
- Criticism is not a reflection of who I am as a person. It is about the action that I took, not who I am. Just because we do something wrong doesn’t make us a bad person. It just means there might be something to work on if there is validity in the comment. The first step is to figure out if you think there is validity to what they are saying. If it’s your boss, you probably want to listen and work on whatever it is.
- Communicate how the comment made me feel. “Lillie, it hurts my feelings when you say X. Could you please understand that and find a better way to communicate with me?”
- If the person giving the criticism is my husband, children, parents, I can learn to take it better and I can learn to communicate better. If it’s someone else in my life who tends to routinely make me feel badly, maybe this isn’t someone that I want in my life. We want to surround ourselves with people who lift us up. I want all of us to be able to handle criticism. I also want us to be able to identify a pattern.
I don’t want to let criticism bring me down and I don’t want to feel defensive either. When we care about people it hurts harder. We need to think about the person’s intentions, and we need to think about if we agree. Use it as fuel to grow. Communicate how you are feeling. I told my husband that all we both want is to feel loved and appreciated. We can both realize that and work towards that every day. I can also tell that to my children. We also can’t look to our spouse, children, parents, friends, boss to lift us up. We have to do that ourselves. Find it from within and open yourself up to hearing people out. I hope that we can all take criticism better. I hope we can all know that criticism does not define you. You are wonderful and enough even with the criticism. The next time someone criticizes me I will think: Do I agree? What is their intention? Do I need to work on something? Do I need to communicate how I feel and/or what I need from them? Remember that just because we tell someone what we need doesn’t mean that they will give it to us. Find it from within.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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