Experiment with Love: Handling Criticism + Judgment

Imagine that you are walking your walk, moving along your path and dancing in your own shimmering light as often as possible. You are practicing being impeccable with your word. You are re-inventing your boundaries, in the name of cultivating relationships that rock your world in the best possible ways. You are holding your head high, believing in and investing in your own worth. You are claiming your seat at the table – standing in your power and offering your best to the world around you. In other words, you are doing truly spectacular work, however imperfect or tenuous it feels on a daily basis.

And then, someone comes along and says, in no uncertain terms: You are doing it all wrong, you should

And then?

You brain starts spinning.

What started with a tenuous hold on your personal power, slowly degrades over the course of the minutes, hour, day…

Wait a minute, what if I’m doing it all wrong? What if I’m all wrong? What if my message is getting totally skewed? What is it about ME that is wrong? 

I’m never going to get this right. I always mess everything up. 

There is something inherently wrong with me. I always going to fuck it all up. I will never succeed. 

I should just stop right now. 

In short, you move quickly from a place of l-o-v-i-n-g yourself and your life, to a place insulated by fear, the need for validation, and deeply felt, “what if this is true about me?” beliefs.

Now, if you’re like most people, the mere act of moving through this process brings up a lot of shame.

You judge yourself for judging yourself.

You take the original hurt and fear, and you layer a heaping dose of shame and self-criticism over top. 

You speak to yourself cruelly, in this place of judgment. You call yourself stupid, worthless, ugly, useless, ________.  In that moment, you compound your pain with the injury of turning on yourself.

It is one thing to lose your confidence. It is entirely another to beat yourself up mercilessly for it.

Holding the hope for yourself is the process of cultivating a deep alliance with yourself on a daily basis.

Eden Crown

It is the knowledge that you will not always get it right. You will not always be perfect. You will make many mistakes, but mistakes are essential to developing a life that is a magnificent fit for you.

For the purposes of this post, we will call those mistakes experimentation. 

When you are able to experiment with your life, approaching your day-to-day with a sense of curiosity and by granting yourself deep permission to play, you are inviting yourself to truly notice what it is that lights you up inside. When you notice what lights you up inside, you stand a chance at inviting more of it into your life.

I know that you’ve got really big, exciting dreams. 

I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you that big dreams crave big, bold courage. They crave the light of the sunshine, and being spoken aloud. They crave fertile environments to unfurl, grow, and take root.

You cannot change what others think about you.

You cannot protect yourself from them if they want to jump in and tell you that you’re doing it all wrong – though you might try.

You can only treat yourself sweetly here, deciding to grant yourself permission to experiment and refusing to layer shame and cruelty over painful moment. 

You are the queen of your inner landscape – with your reign reaching to every corner of your body and as far as you dare to dream in your heart.

Run your kingdom with a gentle touch.  Encourage every part of yourself to flourish and refuse to turn on yourself – even when and especially when the going gets tough. 

Remind yourself of this: I am doing the best that I can. I, above all else, am deserving of my own love and kindness.

Give yourself permission to be a renegade in this department, and refuse to give into the all-too-easy disparaging or self-critical scripts that are on the tip of your tongue.

Rule with love.

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3 thoughts on “Experiment with Love: Handling Criticism + Judgment”

  1. Hi !
    This post hit the nail on the head, as just last week, a coworker took me apart to stress a mistake I made.
    I was taken aback because first, I did not know I made one, but most of all because it seemed such a big deal for her.
    I tried to explain myself to her but she was very patronizing and well, since I’ve never really “liked” her, I beat myself up for giving her a chance to rub my nose in my mistake (so to speak). So when you wrote, ” You cannot protect yourself from them if they want to jump in and tell you that you’re doing it all wrong – though you might try.”, my question is : how should I have reacted ?
    To me, she felt powerful and I felt humiliated. True, I cannot stand the girl and all I can think about now is that I might end up in a heavy argument with her next time she critiizes me.
    Any thought ?
    Thanks !

    • Hi Val! I’m so glad that this post spoke to you. In thinking about this situation – what reaction would have felt the best to you? Like, really really good? How might you be able to understand what is beneath her actions, so that it becomes less triggering for you in the future? Often when someone takes us apart like this, it is typically about them and not us. How might understanding that help you feel better about your part in the conversation?

  2. This hit home for me too.

    My boyfriend of two years and I live together and have for the past year. I’m 30 years old and he’s my first and only boyfriend. He’s been married once before but there’s nothing there with the ex. That’s not even the issue I’m facing.

    I’m a Christian. Before I met John, I was pretty adamant on waiting until I got married to have sex. That changed when I met John. I don’t regret it at all, though I went through a lot of personal grief and disappointment and guilt and shame when it first happened because I was supposed to be the Christian girl who honored her body and waited until marriage and blah blah blah.

    John was in the final year of his service in the army when we met. His original plan was to get out of the army, move back to his hometown of Savannah, and return to school to get his B.A. in English. Then we met. At first, he thought he was going to be able to do this with me in Atlanta and in him in Savannah, but I told him no, I couldn’t do the long-distance thing for two years. I would never put my life on hold for a man.

    He’s a Christian too. Before me, his ex-wife is the only other woman he’s ever been with and they waited until they got married. He didn’t see any problem with us sleeping together before we get married because he said he knows he wants to be with me and only me, but even he was iffy about us living together and not being married. But when I told him I couldn’t do the long-distance thing, he said he couldn’t trade me for anything, so he took a big leap of faith and moved to Atlanta to be with me only nine months into our relationship.

    And it’s been great, really great. Our relationship has flourished in our time together.

    Now that he’s out of the army and finished with National Guard AIT training, he wants to return to school. He’s trying to get into a technical school near Atlanta, but if that doesn’t work, he wants to move to Savannah.

    And we’ve talked about this. A year or so ago, I told him I wouldn’t move unless we were married. Back then, I thought moving to Savannah was a 2-3 year down the road thing. When he asked me about it last week, I shakily brought that up, but after thinking about it some more, I told him it was okay, I am ready to move when he is (anything to get me out of my current job, really).

    Well, I told these plans to one of my “Christian” friends at work yesterday, and she gave me this huge, long speech about how it compromises my integrity for us to live together and that if I say we don’t have to be married before we move, then I’m compromising myself without him doing any compromising. I told her he compromised all of his plans to be here with me. He could’ve been way further along with his school stuff and his life probably wouldn’t have been so up in the air like it is now.

    She said he compromised worldly things; I’m compromising my integrity (cause you know men don’t have to worry about such things).

    I told her John knows how I feel about it, that we’ve talked about it and I’ve prayed about it, and I’m not going into this blindly. And like I told her, I spent all those years alone before I met John and during that time, I learned how to take care of myself, so if I move to Savannah and everything blows up in my face, I will get back on my feet. I will figure out what to do next.

    But it still shook me. And all this, “Why hasn’t he proposed yet?” even though we’ve only been dating two years and “God will bless your relationship more if you’re married”/saying our relationship isn’t valid because we’re not legally married and etc. has really bothered me. I know John loves me. I know our relationship is solid and honored and valid and we’re both in this for the long haul, but it still deeply affected me because so much of my relationship with John and the life I’ve built in the past four years in Atlanta and away from my family has been rocked to the core.

    I grew up in a very conservative, traditional, fundamentalist Christian family (also a deeply dysfunctional and abusive and angry one at that). I’ve learned so much about grace and mercy and forgiveness in the past four years and I think I’ve made a lot of progress, but then people say things to me like mentioned above and I feel like a harlot or pariah or horrible excuse for a Christian.

    So yeah, thanks for this. Sorry for the novel, lol.

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