Oct
20

Addressing a Fear of Criticism

Thanks to each of you who submitted a tip request last month. This month I’d like to address the following question from one reader.

Lately I’ve noticed that I still have a huge fear of criticism. Consciously I tell myself that it’s okay to fail and make mistakes—that I don’t care what people say. I also remind myself of my belief that the only opinion I care about is God’s. However, I’ve noticed that deep down inside that’s not the case. I often find myself in unfavorable situations where, if I evaluate it, my fear of criticism is still looming large.

There are two ways to think about this question. The first is to look at criticism as feedback. When we talk about fear of criticism, we often mean someone is evaluating us, or something we’re doing, in a way that we construe as negative or problematic. Rather than recognizing that feedback is simply information provided from someone else’s viewpoint, we often take it as a judgment about ourselves or our project.

If we keep in mind the premise that there is no failure, only feedback, we have the potential to be more objective. This frame, if we choose it, allows us to create a process for understanding how to use the criticism or feedback. (See Strategy for Responding to Criticism.)

The second way to think about fear of criticism is to create a sense of what psychologist David Schnarch calls self-differentiation, which requires building a sense of self that is more immune to others’ criticisms.  This issue of feeling judged and not good enough often emerges very early in life, when we believe that we need the approval of others. The challenge is that many of us have carried this belief forward into our adult lives. One of the consequences is that we often learn to pay exquisite attention to others, coming up with ways to short circuit criticism or maintain a particular image of ourselves. Instead, we should develop our own criteria and learn how to hold those ideas strongly in our psyche.

With this approach to criticism, belief change work can really make a difference. You can adopt the belief that you can develop the differentiation ability in order to put yourself in charge. That allows you to be in control of your experience, not someone else.

If you have a question about beliefs, belief change processes or how to shift a limiting belief, please share it in the comment section below.

P.S. Do you want to reprint this article? Please do, just be sure that it remains intact and includes the following bio.

About Terry: Terry Hickey, M.S., is a Certified NLP Professional Coach, Business Trainer and Consultant, a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the co-owner of NLP Advantage Group. Originator of the Belief Breakthrough Method™, Terry specializes in teaching coaches and entrepreneurs how to rapidly resolve limiting beliefs about wealth and success. His tips and strategies can help you launch yourself into the future you want… NOW.

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