There are times in life we have to deal with difficult people. How can we do so and still be effective in our work and families without the burden of grief these critics cause us to feel? Marisa Peer a world famous therapist wrote this about critics in her book Ultimate Confidence. I highly encourage you to consider buying this for yourself.
“Critical people always have the most criticism reserved for themselves but express their own dissatisfactions with themselves outwardly by finding fault and criticizing others. When I was newly engaged my female boss said to me, ‘Your boyfriend is so gorgeous. How do you keep him?’ I was shocked by her comments but I replied, ‘I keep him the same way he keeps me.’ Years later another person said to me, ‘Your boyfriend is so unattractive. What are you doing with him?’ Rather than arguing or being annoyed, I replied, ‘Isn’t it great that he’s got so much going for him that he’s really attractive to me? He’s an amazing person and that’s why I love him.’ In each example the critical person obviously had some need to make me feel bad because she felt insecure or unhappy and in both those situations I chose not to let it affect me because I knew it was not really about me.
As well as this issue that leads people to criticize is the fact that in general we feel the need to feel equal to those around us in order to belong, and, as I said before, our survival on the planet and our security are linked to belonging. So imagine the metaphor of being on a seesaw with someone and you are higher than them and they are lower than you. For the person who is lower than you and wants to be equal to you, the easiest thing they can do to restore the balance is to embellish themselves or diminish you to change the dynamics of the seesaw. They may want you to be lower on the metaphorical seesaw, in which case they will try to diminish you and put you down or embellish themselves until they feel better than you.
I find the most effective way to deal with them is to say to them or think to yourself, ‘This is not really about me it’s about you’, or ‘You must feel really bad about yourself to be like this’, or I just say to myself or to them, ‘You know, when you keep criticizing other people you are just showing me and them how dissatisfied you are with yourself.’ It is not always appropriate to say these things to your boss or relatives but nothing can stop you thinking them and there are times when it’s okay to say them, but always say them in a calm, rational, non-confrontational way.
People who like themselves like other people; people who don’t like themselves don’t like others. It’s not possible to like anyone more than you like yourself. The definition of high self-esteem is how much you like yourself. You simply cannot have one without the other.”
Marisa Peer. “Ultimate Confidence.”
Tony Robbins teaches that these changes can be possible but we need to understand a few things.
“First, we must believe, “Something must change”—not that it should change, not that it could or ought to, but that it absolutely must. So often I hear people say, “This weight should come off,” “Procrastinating is a lousy habit,” “My relationships should be better.” But you know, we can “should” all over ourselves, and our life still won’t change! It’s only when something becomes a must that we begin the process of truly doing what’s necessary to shift the quality of our lives.
2) Second, we must not only believe that things must change, but we must believe, “I must change it.” We must see ourselves as the source of the change. Otherwise, we’ll always be looking for someone else to make the changes for us, and we’ll always have someone else to blame when it doesn’t work out. We must be the source of our change if our change is going to last.
3) Third, we have to believe, “I can change it.” Without believing that it’s possible for us to change, as we’ve already discussed in the last chapter, we stand no chance of carrying through on our desires.
Without these three core beliefs, I can assure you that any change you make stands a good chance of being only temporary. Please don’t misunderstand me—it’s always smart to get a great coach (an expert, a therapist, a counselor, someone who’s already produced these results for many other people) to support you in taking the proper steps to conquer your phobia or quit smoking or lose weight. But in the end, you have to be the source of your change.” Tony Robbins. “Awaken the Giant Within.”
These two powerful books can really lead us to feel great and overcome those around us trying to pull us down. You will actually go from feeling inferior to wanting to help your critics because you will see the pain they have in their actions. So the net time someone works to put you down understand it is a change for you to lift them up.