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A Simple Guide on How to Handle Destructive Criticism

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People criticized me. So I changed. But people still criticized me. So I changed more. And still people criticized me. Then finally I realized it’s what they will do, no matter what. And I changed once more, by no longer listening to those people.

Does that mean I have stopped listening to people’s advice? Of course not, I welcome it, I’m grateful for it. But there is a not-so-fine-line between those who destructively criticize, and those offering “constructive criticism” — that is, the advice that can be the most important, even and perhaps especially the tough love variety.

The difference resides in the intention of the person delivering the criticism:

  • Are they someone who genuinely cares about you, and/or about the results of your actions, first of all?
  • Are they saying whatever they are saying because they genuinely care about your improvement, or the improvement of whatever it is your actions are impacting, even if their words may not be the best they could have chosen?
  • Are they truly speaking from an emotional place of insecurity, jealousy, guilt, anger, or hate?

Responding Versus Reacting

If you and I were purely rational beings, it would be pretty easy to routinely recognize others’ intentions, and therefore the difference between constructive versus destructive criticism. Be we too have these little things called “emotions” that can sometimes get in our way… in a big way.

So one of the most beneficial things you can learn is to “scan yourself” to recognize your own emotions at any given time. (This is a habit that serves you well in many respects of life, of course; people can get better and better at it, but no one ever perfects it.)

When it comes to determining the difference between someone giving constructive versus destructive criticism, assess if you have any emotional disturbances or walls up inside you. For example, are you feeling insecure in the face of the particular constructive criticism you are receiving, taking things personally when they are not so, and misinterpreting it as destructive?

Do you have your own internal anger or sadness about something in relation to the person who is delivering what they mean as good advice, which therefore may be tainting how you hear it? Are you simply crabby?

It is not always easy to scan and analyze your own emotions in this manner, but then little that is worth doing is ever easy. The more you can recognize your own emotions so you can respond versus react, the more strife you will avoid and growth you will achieve.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond”

Recognizing the Destructive

If you do have your own emotions in check, then, it is typically not hard to recognize those who are destructively criticizing you. If their criticism is full of downright insults — calling you stupid and the like, implying or stating outright you’ll never amount to much, etc. — that is clearly destructive.

But also watch their facial and bodily expressions, and listen to the tone of their voices. Instead of the look and sound of care, concern, or worry, destructive criticism usually looks and feels like an attack.

Sometimes you will even sense a sort of sick delight in the person destructively criticizing you, because these “broken” people draw a temporary and false sense of strength and joy from tearing you and likely others down.

The Only Thing to Do

When you are certain a person is in the business of destructively criticizing you, the best thing or the ONLY thing you can do is let them go. Shut them off. Detach. Stop listening. Easier said than done, I know, but amongst the most important things you’ll ever do in your life. If this person is someone you can physically part from in your life, do so.

What If It’s Someone Close to You?

However, often the biggest challenge comes when someone you care about, and who “should” care about you, such as a parent, sibling, spouse, or even someone who once did care about you like an ex or old friend — turns to destructive criticism.

This can feel especially disheartening and like it just doesn’t add up. Because this is a person we ought to be able trust, and so it is extremely easy to take their criticism to heart, even if we rationally know their criticism is not well-intentioned and frankly, full of crap.

But in these cases too, difficult as it may be, you must detach. You may not be able to physically leave in some cases, but you can increasingly teach yourself to mentally and emotionally depart and NOT take any of their destructive words to heart. Yes, it takes work to do this, but believe me, the work is worth it.

“Your circle of influence dictates your path” – Oprah

By the way, if you cannot, or choose not to, physically depart from this person, do remember you cannot fix anyone else, no matter how much you love them and wish you could. You can attempt your own constructive advice to try to help them, but be prepared for extensive resistance, to say the least. The good news is that most “lost souls” do find their way back, starting with one trigger or another; the bad news is that not all do.

Only you, with your own set of values, know who it is you won’t physically leave despite their destructive criticism and negativity, or how far your lines are drawn before you must physically leave them. This is something you should assess and understand for yourself now, hard as it may be, if you don’t yet know.

Misguided Daggers

No matter what, you absolutely CAN choose who you will listen to, whose words you will let inside your head, and whose you will keep out. Even if they’re in the next office over, or in the bed right next to you.

My strong constructive advice is to choose carefully, choose wisely, and for any and all who would destructively criticize you, remember their daggers are misguided. Those who destructively criticize others have one form or another of self-loathing, and the daggers they throw at others are really meant for themselves. Do the work to ban their misguided daggers from piercing your heart.

How are you dealing with criticism? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Brian Vaszily is the founder of AdvantageHacks.com, which publishes life-changing questions like this and other unique content that can improve your life and make you say “Huh!” and things like it. He’s the author of multiple books, including the #1 bestseller, The 9 Intense Experiences: An Action Plan to Change Your Life Forever, is a popular speaker, and has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS and other major media.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ram

    Apr 26, 2018 at 4:48 am

    Sometimes, we miss out on the scope of constructive feedback. This has in many cases ironed out gross misunderstanding between the two of us involved in the situation, and we eventually emerge with a great clarity on each other’s perspectives. It only dawns on me that it was never a criticism in the first place. So, the simple formula is “just talk openly”.

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Life

If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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3 Inspiring Lessons We Can Learn From Jim Carrey About the Law of Attraction

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You’ve more than likely heard of Jim Carrey before. Over the years, he has starred in many popular films including The Truman Show, The Mask, and Bruce Almighty (just to name a few.)

But his personality goes a lot deeper than just his comedic persona and movie star charisma. In fact, Jim Carrey is probably one of the most philosophical individuals on the planet

Although he isn’t in the spotlight as much anymore, throughout the years, he has credited his success and fortunes by applying the Law of attraction into his life. What’s even more inspiring is that Jim Carrey, like you and I, came from humble beginnings. No silver spoon or easy ticket. In fact, his family was very poor throughout his childhood. So what made him so successful in attracting such an extravagant and self-fulfilling life?

Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Jim Carrey when it comes to manifesting your dreams into a reality:

1. You Have To Take Action

You can’t just visualize then go eat a sandwich”, Jim Carrey says. It goes without saying that the law of attraction does require action. You cannot simply rely on visualizing and expect to see results, especially when it comes to manifesting desires that other people would like to achieve also. E.g. Careers, scholarships, competitions, anything that involves another individual.

Visualization and positive thinking are crucial when it comes to using the law of attraction, but you have to meet the universe halfway with the steps you take as well. We are physical beings that require physical steps to get physical results. The real key is to make daily plans/goals in order to get you closer towards achieving your desires. So after that sandwich, make sure start taking action toward your dreams!

This could be working on your hobbies or passion, applying for that dream job or studying to get better grades. As long as you are moving toward your goals then there’s no reason why it can’t happen. So get out there and kick some butt.

2. Double Down On What You Love

My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

If this story of Jim Carrey’s father doesn’t pull on your heartstrings and inspire you at the same time, nothing else will! This is such an undeniable life lesson that everyone needs to learn. A lesson to take risks, push comfort zones and go all-in on what you love doing. So if your dreams, hobbies or goals seem far fetched to the majority, then you are already beating the other 99%.

Be that 1% that’s willing to dream big and rise above the norm. Unfortunately, in today’s society, our ancestral instincts still rule our everyday life. Fear is one of them and controls the majority of our population. It’s scary to push comfort zones and try something new, the thought of failure is often paralyzing to many. But my question to you is, will you look back one day and regret the chances you didn’t take?

3. Keep Your Eye On The Prize

As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass.” Holding onto every little detail when it comes to manifesting, can conjure up more harm than good. The reason is that the universe will deliver in ways you might not expect.

If you are too busy wondering when your desires will manifest, comparing yourself to others, or ignoring every sign that doesn’t look like your detailed plan you’ve written down, then you may be missing out on opportunities that are right in front of you! Your visualizations don’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s better to just let go altogether and focus on the result itself rather than dwelling on every little detail. This doesn’t mean to simply forget about what you want but instead having the confidence it will happen in time. 

An example of this is when Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for 30 million dollars. The only detail he knew was that he would earn it through his acting career, and he did indeed achieve this goal! So make sure to tell the universe what you want, but try not to hold onto every little detail!

Jim Carrey is just another person like you and me, with his own personal ups and downs in his road to success. He is someone to look up to when applying the law of attraction in your life too. It doesn’t matter if your goals or desires are different because the core foundation will always stay the same. You can and will do this if you think, feel and act as if it will happen!

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Meditation for Beginners: How It Works and Where to Start

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Meditation was first developed in India many years ago (around 5000-3500 BCE). It took quite some time to become popular in the western world, but today, it is celebrated as a therapeutic tool to ease stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions. In the past years, it has also become recognized as helping to improve mental performance, and consequently became a multi-billion dollar business. If you’ve never tried it, you may be wondering how something so simple as sitting with your eyes closed could deliver such incredible benefits.

How meditation works

Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective over one’s thoughts. Many think that meditating is about trying to achieve a zen state of mind, but that’s not the point. Observing one’s thoughts, and then letting go of them so that eventually you may start to better understand them, is the real goal of each meditation practice.

There are different techniques to go through this mental process. Some focus on the breath and bodily sensation, others make you visualize an object, and others help you to channel your thoughts towards acts of love and kindness.

A typical meditation session involves you sitting on a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. Once you assume a comfortable position and focus on your breath, you should start noticing your thoughts. At this point, according to what type of technique you’re using, you will try to let those thoughts go away by focusing on something else (this could be your breath or a mental image you created).

With time and practice, you may be able to reach a state of mind where very few thoughts (or none) are present. Despite the simplicity of this process, meditating for more than ten minutes is extremely tough for most. Many people that try meditation get discouraged by the fact that “they can’t stop thinking.” In fact, it has been proven that people spend most of their days being anything but mindful and peaceful.

In a 2010 study, Harvard researchers asked more than 2000 adults about their thoughts and actions at random moments throughout their day via an iPhone app. People’s minds wandered 47% of the time, and mind wandering often triggered unhappiness, the scientists reported.

They also observed that spending time observing our thoughts without getting stuck on them, may help to better understand oneself, and possibly being able to reduce the number of negative thoughts one experiences.

“The mind is definitely something that can be transformed, and meditation is a means to transform it.” – Dalai Lama

What science says about meditation

People have practiced meditation for thousands of years, but scientists have studied its effects for only a dozen. In the past few years, many studies have been published about the neurological benefits of meditation, proving it to improve brain function in many different ways.

Meditation’s benefits range from preserving the aging brain, to improving happiness by reducing the activity of the brain’s “me center” (monkey mind). A more recent study has even proven that meditation is as powerful as antidepressants in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. Many more studies are being conducted every day on meditation, and we can expect to gain a lot more insight in the near future.

Can anyone meditate?

Millions of people are practicing mindfulness meditation every day with great results, but there are also as many people that have tried meditating and didn’t like it or didn’t manage to be consistent with their practice. The most important part of developing a meditation practice is consistency. You don’t have to meditate every single day, but the benefits are tied to regular, consistent practice.

Some studies claim that some benefits of meditation such as improved mood, decreased stress and decreased blood pressure, can be felt after a single session. Some other benefits like increased focus and decreased anxiety may be experienced after a few weeks and others take longer to develop.

Some people claim that as little as five minutes of meditation per day can make miracles, but research shows that a regular practice associated with benefits involves 10-20 minutes of meditation at least three times per week.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa

What’s the best way to begin a meditation practice?

A good place to start for aspiring mediators is Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, a former English student in sport science, dropped his studies to travel to Asia and trained as a Buddhist monk. He created Headspace with the goal of helping millions of people to live a more mindful life. Over 30 million people have downloaded and use headspace. This is due to his simplicity and its beautiful design and animations.

Do you meditate? If so, what’s your favorite aspect of it? Share your thoughts below!

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