Criticism is one hell of a drug. When faced with it, the normal reaction is one of defense and judgment. Recently I was taken aback by some advice that was very much needed. In the midst of a heated argument I had completely disregarded the one party, blinded by my own selfish needs and want to come out on top. I lacked the foresight to take a step back and realize that I was not the only that had their feelings and thoughts out in the open. Like most hurtful words, they were accompanied by hurtful actions. It is a universal debate on which causes the most damage. The irreversible word or the unforgivable action.
It was brought to my attention that there were other ways of dealing with what was happening in my head. Imagine dear reader, how caught up I was to the point where any alternative solution besides mine was unimportant to me or the argument at hand. The shocking realization brought me to a standstill. I guess it helped that the opposite party did this in his usual calm and collected manner. A soft blow, as I would like to think of it. Which brings me to the topic at hand. ACCOUNTABLITY.
I struggled to accept that I was in the wrong and not only that but I had not taken the other persons feelings into consideration. I spoke without really listening and this nearly caused the death spiral of the partnership. I was so quick to point the “no you’re wrong” finger and I didn’t stop to think that maybe just maybe he was hurting just as much. Invalidating someone’s feelings is the fastest exit excuse you can hand someone. I had to take a pause and actually listen. Lo and behold, I discovered that this was not a feeling that occurred overnight and that the strain had been felt for some time, and peace over turmoil had been chosen and over time, created tiny paper cuts in the relationship.
I learned that taking a step back and shifting my focus would help me bring a better perspective to the table. I also discovered that acknowledging what was being said to me showed the other person that I value them and their feelings. Sometimes dear reader, a simple “I hear you” goes a long way. I know that your immediate reaction is to defend yourself, be it out of self-preservation or fear of being criticized. But if you do this often enough, it makes it seem as though what they have to say is unimportant. It reminds me of a YouTube video I watched the other day by dating expert Adrienne Everheart who pointed out (and this one is for you ladies) that feminine and masculine energy must have a balance in order to coexist. If you are with a man and you are constantly exuding masculine energy, he’ll fight you on it for a while but will eventually walk away from you because it has become too exhausting for him.
It is vital that you shift your focus, especially if you are dating a man. Men love to believe that they are capable of handling everything on their own terms and when you start to question these terms, they are most likely going to feel undermined. If you want to advise or add input, do it in a way that is not criticizing. Remember that whatever is happening between the two of you is a partnership. It does not matter if this is your mother or your romantic partner, don’t allow for the boundaries to overlap. See it as them giving advice to help you lead a better and easier life. Try saying “thank you” instead of “nothing I ever do is good enough” next time and see where it gets you.
I’m ending off by asking you to accept the role you played. I don’t care how small and insignificant it feels to you, clearly something made the other person approach you in the first place. Take the responsibility and own it. The excuses won’t work if the person did not understand your intention. Admit that you played a role and keep it moving! Lastly be kind enough to remember that not everything is about you. People have baggage and lives outside of you. They have their bad days and days where they feel their loads are too heavy. Step into their shoes and look at things from their perspective. Think before you speak and always remember that there are consequences to every action we put out there.
Written By: Paulina Mothapo