The Perfectionist’s Guide To Accepting Criticism

Ladders Article

ILLUSTRATION: ASHLEY SIEBELS

Criticism is hard. People naturally lean towards wanting to be right all the time. Who wants to be told you are wrong, or that you need to fix X, Y, Z? Very few. However, there is great growth and development that can occur when we open ourselves to constructive criticism. What do you need to do to get better at accepting “no” or “do better”? Follow these five steps.

1. Accept that perfection is fiction.

Did you know that you are not right 100 percent of the time? Even if you feel that you are, you are not. You will never know everything, nor will you always know what to do. Constructive criticism offers you the advice and insight that you need to improve in your career and in your life. It might not always be easy to hear, but it is needed to progress and develop as a person. Once you accept this fact, it makes receiving constructive criticism that much easier.

2. Classify the source of the criticism.

When criticized, you should always consider the source. Is the person criticizing you coming from a place of positivity, or are they trying to hurt or discourage you?  If you determine that the source is not malevolent, then you can give weight to what is being said to you.

3. Try to live past your feelings.

Joyce Meyer teaches that people need to live past their feelings. Our feelings can betray us more often than we like to admit. Sometimes you might feel hurt or offended not because of what is being said to you,  but because you didn’t feel like you should have been criticized or scrutinized. You must separate yourself from your feelings and address the objective facts of what is taking place. You can ask yourself:

Is this constructive criticism?
Was it said with the intention of hurting me?
Was it shared in an offensive manner?
Was there a purpose for sharing constructive criticism?

4. Take the time to appreciate the lesson learned.

I believe there is glory and growth that takes place in the uncomfortable experiences we have. Receiving constructive criticism can feel quite uncomfortable and revealing; yet, it is so needed. How do we become better speakers, writers, doctors, teachers, politicians, scientists, or salesmen without receiving constructive criticism? We do not. Appreciate the people in your life who are providing the wisdom and insight you need to improve yourself. As long as the criticism isn’t provided in a harmful way, then you should appreciate every lesson you learn from the experience.

5. Implement the improvements right away.

One of the best ways to deal with constructive criticism is to begin implementing the improvement it brings to your life. My life motto is to learn something new and meet someone new every day. When it comes to constructive criticism, I try to implement the needed change immediately, so I develop a new habit from the improvement to better myself. What is the point of learning something and doing nothing with it? Learn, accept, and implement. Don’t you agree?

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

Is It Good To Be A Perfectionist?

Author Article

As holidays end and goals are set for the work and school year ahead, it’s timely to question whether striving for perfection is a good thing.

A-plus interference: Perfectionism has been associated with many clinical disorders.

What makes someone a perfectionist anyway? Someone who is highly competitive and also extremely critical of themselves and others, says Magson.

“Their standards are impossibly high, and they often hold others to those same standards,” she says. “This often causes relationship problems with peers, partners and family members.”

Based on her own recent research of 525 families with Year 6 children, Magson argues that seeking perfection is not a healthy motivator and can pose a “serious risk” to mental health.

Perfectionists quickly become overwhelmed with tasks, procrastinate and find it difficult to finish. This can lead to failure at school.

“Perfectionism has been associated with numerous clinical disorders such as anxiety, eating disorders, depression and preoccupation with body image – just to name a few,” she says. “It can severely interfere with your life.”

This is because a perfectionist ties their self-worth to their achievements, their successes and failures. “So when perfectionists fail to meet their high standards, which they inevitably will, they engage in self-criticism and feel a sense of worthlessness,” says Magson.

“‘If my performance is not flawless (ie: perfect) then I have completely failed’ they say.”

Perfectionism can also lead to mental paralysis. People become so preoccupied with the possibility of failure that they can become afraid of trying anything new.

“Perfectionists quickly become overwhelmed with tasks, procrastinate and find it difficult to finish,” Magson says. “This can lead to failure at school when they constantly revise assignments and class work, which are still incomplete by the deadline.”

Some research suggests that perfectionism is partially hereditary, and can also be a learned behaviour from parents. It often strikes in the teen years and is more common in gifted children.

The good news is you can do something about it. Magson offers strategies that concerned parents, caregivers and teachers can try:

First of all educate your child on what perfectionism is. Encourage them to set more realistic attainable goals and not catastrophise mistakes. When they become overwhelmed with a task, help them break it down into achievable chunks.

“You can help them overcome negative self-talk by offering more positive alternatives such as ‘although I didn’t win, I tried my best’,” she says. “Encourage good sportsmanship and kindness and write these thoughts on Post-It notes so they can read them often and positive thoughts become habitual, rather than the negative ones.”

She also suggests reassuring perfectionists that everyone makes mistakes – even a parent, teacher or world leader makes mistakes. Constructively reflecting on mistakes is a learning opportunity.

If you really can’t make headway with these tips, Magson suggests seeing your GP for a referral to a psychologist who may recommend various cognitive behaviour therapy techniques.

Dr Natasha Magson is a Research Associate at the Centre for Emotional Health.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

PsychCentral Blog Here

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Have you ever felt like an imposter or fraud? You’re not alone. Particularly in a professional setting, people may have this feeling, but lack the words to describe it. This is called imposter syndrome, which means feeling like a fraud due to self-doubt and lack of confidence. It stems from low self-esteem that makes us afraid of being discovered and judged inadequate or incompetent. We’re convinced that we’re really an “imposter,” just tricking everyone. In an intimate relationship, we’re afraid of being found out and left.

The consequence is that even when we excel — get high marks, accomplishments, raises, promotions, or compliments, we feel so undeserving due to deep shame that it doesn’t change our opinion of ourselves. We’ll make excuses or discount our successes. It’s normal to exaggerate or emphasize our strengths on a resume or job interview. However, an “imposter” really feels unqualified in comparison to other candidates — wants the position but is half terrified of getting it.

Underlying Shame

The deep underlying shame stimulates fault-finding thoughts when compared to our high expectations of ourselves and others. We also compare ourselves negatively to other people who appear to have it all together. When others make a mistake, we might be forgiving, because we have double standards, judging ourselves more harshly than others.

When we feel like an imposter, we live in constant fear of being found out — that a new boss or romantic partner will eventually realize he or she made a big mistake. Insecurity mounts with every task or assignment about whether we can satisfactorily complete it. Every time we have to perform, we feel like our job, career, family security — everything — is on the line. One mistake and our façade will crumble, like a house of cards. When something good happens, it must be a mistake, luck, or a warning that the other shoe will soon drop. In fact, the more success we have or the closer we get to a new mate, the greater is our anxiety.

Positive acknowledgement is felt undeserved and is written off with the belief that the other person is manipulating, lying, has poor judgment, or just doesn’t know the real truth about us. If we’re offered kindness or a promotion, we’re more than surprised. We wonder why — why would they want to do that? If we receive an honor, we feel like it was a mistake. We dismiss it as being routine, very easy, low standards, or no competition. Additionally, when we do well, we’re afraid that we’ve now raised others’ expectations and will likely fail in the future. Better to have a low profile than risk criticism, judgment, or rejection.

Though other people might like us, inside we feel flawed, inadequate, a mess, a disappointment. We imagine others are judging us for things that in reality they didn’t even notice or long forgot. Meanwhile, we can’t let go of it and even judge ourselves for things we can’t control — like a computer glitch that delayed in completing something on time.

Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is how we evaluate and think about ourselves. Many of us live with a harsh inner judge, our critic, who sees flaws that no one else notices, much less cares about. It tyrannizes us about how we look, how we should act, what we should have done differently, or should be doing that we’re not. When we’re self-critical, our self-esteem is low, and we lose confidence in our abilities. Our critic also makes us sensitive to criticism, because it mirrors the doubts we already have about ourselves and our behavior. Moreover, we imagine other people think what our critic thinks. In other words, we project our critic onto other people. Even if when questioned, they deny our assumptions, we likely won’t believe them.

Imposter Syndrome in Relationships

Healthy relationships depend on self-esteem. These imposter fears can cause us to provoke arguments and assume we’re being judged or rejected when we’re not. We may push people who want to get close to use or love us away for fear of being judged or found out. This makes it hard to have a committed, intimate relationship. We might settle for someone who needs us, is dependent on us, abuses us, or in our mind is in some way beneath us. This way, we’re assured they won’t leave us.

Cognitive Distortions

Shame and low self-esteem lead to cognitive distortions. Our thoughts often reflect thinking that is shame-based (“should’s” and self-criticisms), inflexible, black and white, and negative projections. Other cognitive distortions include overgeneralizing, catastrophic thinking, and hyperfocus on details, which obfuscate the main objective.

Our shame filters reality and skews how our perceptions. A typical pattern is to project the negative and dismiss the positive. We filter reality to exclude the positive while magnifying the negative and our fears. We take things personally and overgeneralize something small to condemn ourselves and our potential. We use black and white, all-or-nothing thinking to rule out a middle ground and other possibilities and options. We believe I must be perfect and please everyone (impossible) or I’m a failure and no good. These thinking habits distort reality, lower our self-esteem, and can create anxiety and depression.

Perfectionism

Many people with imposter syndrome are perfectionists. They set unrealistic, demanding goals for themselves and regard any failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness. Perfection is an illusion, and perfectionism is driven by shame and reinforces shame. The fear of failure or making mistakes can be paralyzing. This can lead to avoidance, giving up, and procrastination.

Our inner critic interferes with our attempts to take risks, achieve, create, and learn. The disparity between reality and our expectations generates internal conflict, self-doubt, and fear of mistakes that cause suffering and serious symptoms.

We can overcome shame, low self-esteem, and perfectionism by changing our thoughts and behavior, healing our wounds, and developing self-compassion.

© Darlene Lancer 2019