Criticism


eitheory.com

Too much shit can make me sick.

I take an active role in my emotional life.

I don’t make it up as I go along.

If I didn’t try to maintain a level-headed awareness of how I reconcile my emotional life, I would be, instead, rather random, indiscriminate and uncertain of myself and my destiny.

I am not at ease with uncertainty.

Uncertainty leads to impulsivity.

It is not so much that impulsivity is bad or wrong; it is that my emotional frame of reference includes aspects of myself that are best guarded against foreseeable harm; namely, my physical health and lasting sanity. Emotional health is interconnected with physical health.  If one is weakened emotionally by shit, one is likely to feel like shit.

Frankly, I am not so much interested in how I express emotions like joy, happiness, excitement and delight; although, even those emotions, in excess, can be troubling for me.

Everything in moderation is my slogan.

If I allow my delight to override my better judgment, any number of random, impulsive things can happen, placing a greater burden on friendships, partnerships and other such alliances.

It is my expression of anger, rage, revenge and fear that is the main focus of my emotional frame of reference.  Left unchecked, these particular emotions can create havoc throughout my body, leading to sickness from stress, anxiety, worry and tension.

*****

Many of us view emotion as a passive experience – something that happens to us, rather than something we can (and do) influence. Far too often we view ourselves as helpless participants in our emotional lives, believing that we have no control over how we express love, anger, fear, disgust or happiness. We don’t give our emotional life much thought – putting across, instead, a sense of powerlessness and resignation to the whim of how others provoke us into feeling.

Emotion, although possessing great artistic potential is, instead, often expressed artlessly.  In reality, emotion is like any medium of art.  Emotion can be molded, shaped, colored and shaded to form a stunning example of fine art or it can be a derisory flop. In that event, we have choices to make.  We can gather our senses and try again, practice our emotional art and, overtime, produce a creation with which we can be happy. Or we can settle for a lifetime of random, indiscriminate, artless expression.

It really is a bit of a choice.

I am a health psychologist.

And I view myself and others from a bio-psychosocial perspective. I have found that having a comprehensive appreciation for my physical and mental health is much more satisfying than separating the two factors into distinct elements, component parts – and understanding myself in that way.  From my point of view, it is essential to my overall health to remember that my emotions are a delicate blending of organic brain functions (bio), thinking (psycho) and social phenomena.

I have been fairly successful at building my emotional competence by increasing my awareness of myself within this quite logical paradigm.  I have come to pride myself in being the director of my own emotional life. I believe I have been more successful managing my overall health using this strategy than I would have been without it. There appears to be a single instance of weakness, a chink if you will, in my frame of reference.

CRITICISM.

I realized the strength of my weakness a few weeks ago when I was criticized unfairly by a coworker and responded in a way that left me questioning the continued success of my emotional development. Of course there was the sudden streak of warmth up the back of my neck, spreading to my ears.  My mouth went dry. I felt as if I were preparing for a fight.  My first response was to flee – to shut down my awareness of h/er. To pretend s/he didn’t exist. I concluded that I could not show my attacker that I was afraid, so I walked away calmly.  Once back behind my desk, I immediately called friends to tell them my story.

“You won’t believe this!”

“What?”

“You just won’t believe it.”

“Tell me!”

After explaining the circumstance, I anticipated that I would surely receive sympathy, empathy and strong evidence to prove my assumption that I was being unfairly treated and that I was NOT a bad boy after all, but, instead, a good boy.

A VERY good boy.

“So you think I am right and s/he was wrong?”

“Of course; s/he was very rude and irresponsible.”

“Thanks, I needed that.  I have to go.  I have to call a few more people before they go home for the day.  I really need support right now.”

“I know what you mean, honey.  Good luck!”

It seems there is no more unfortunate event in my daily life than when I am criticized. My physical body responds; my thoughts race; I seek out approval from people I am sure will provide me with it.  My ambition is to discredit the person who criticized me and restore myself to my place of perfect goodness.

I believe I have been successful at using my best frame of reference to overcome most emotional challenges in my life – with the exception of this thing . . . this criticism.

In truth, I am my own worst critic.

Come to think of it, I am often quite critical of myself; but I am more capable of withstanding my own criticism than when I am criticized by others.  I have concluded that gaining an optimal understanding of the phenomenon of criticism will have to come from a better understanding of my own motivations for criticizing others.  If I can understand why I do it, (what benefit it brings to me), I will come to a better understanding of its value to others.

Considering that being criticized is a phenomenon that is not likely to go away anytime soon, and that it takes such a toll on my cherished homeostatic balance, if I allow it to go unchecked any longer, I will surely not be as perfect as I imagine myself to be.

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Criticism | eitheory.com

  2. Pingback: Premeditated Impulsivity | eitheory.com

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