Beyond Criticism

Does anyone like to be criticized? Even constructively?

I’ll admit I hate it.  Even the constructive stuff.

Before you hit “comment” and start extolling the virtues of criticism, let me say that I know I’m wrong.  I know it is good for me. I know I improve because of it. I know how to step back, let the ego-hit pass, and then actually use the advice or discard it.

I just hate the initial slap! of it, the same way I hate a jolt of cold water even though I love a good water fight.

Being an approval junkie involves staying a step ahead of criticism.  If I volunteer enough, donate enough, am thin enough, pretty enough, organized enough, recognized enough, and generally moving fast enough I am a difficult target to hit with the stun-gun of criticism.

That twisted thinking wormed its way into my life and motivated my self-conscious, exhausting quest for perfection.  It has caused me to do silly things, like change outfits over and over again because nothing less than perfect allowed me to feel comfortable and confident.  It has caused me to do dangerous things, like diet my 5’8″ frame down to a bony 118 lbs. (Fret not, I’m a muscular, healthy 145 again).

It has also led me to achieve impressive goals and receive positive recognition.  Maybe it’s not all bad but I have had to sort it out.

One of the most delicious gifts of my journey into sobriety has been a release from this frantic pace.  Once I stopped pickling myself everyday, I had an opportunity to face that little approval monster.  I was ready to slap her in the face and tell her to shut the F up, but in turned out not to be a monster at all.

Really it was a little girl version of me, frustrated and scared and wanting love.  She needed a hug, not a slap.  Giving her warm milk and cookies seems so much more appropriate than glass after glass of wine.


  1. There is a liitle book called The Four Agreements that has helped me tremendously in dealing with “the critic” whether internal or external. I highly recommend it!


    • I am downloading the audiobook right now. We are about to head out on an 8-hour drive to the family cabin for a week and I will be listening and learning on the journey. I’ll let you know my thoughts. Thanks for the recommendation!


  2. Criticism seems to come from people who watch what everyone else is doing,rather than look at themselves. Most people like this feel the way to get ahead is to try to take others down a notch rather than improving the problem aka themselves. To me the source of the criticism has little credibility,if any at all. I would like to point out as someone who is working on self esteem thingys that to not care what others think can be a bad thing. You mentioned you do care how you appear to the world. That can’t be a bad thing really, at least from my POV. Since sobriety,3/13/11, I am halfway to saving enough to fix my teeth,something the drunk me wouldn’t give a rats furry ass about. Thanks for your blog. Made me think today.


    • I appreciate your thoughts and you made me think about something also — part of the reason I dread judgement is because I can be a harsh judge of others sometimes. I do it, so I expect it back. I have some work to do…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the post, I really liked it.

    You know, it’s ok not to like criticism. We have it beat into us all the time that “X” is good for you or “Y” may seem like is sucks but it’s really for the best. We can be made to feel that if we don’t just absolutely love every criticism or bad thing that happens like it’s the greatest gift in the world that we are bad people.

    I believe the truth is, it’s ok not to like it… it’s ok to think that it sucks, and it’s ok to feel you’d rather not have to face it. The danger, as always, comes when we believe that BECAUSE we think or feel that way that something OUGHT to happen. Ot that we NEED something to happen.

    Criticism often sucks, and we don’t have to like it… but we do have to live with the fact that it sucks, and not drink over it, use over it, or demand that the world bow to our desire that it be different.

    Those are my thoughts… thanks again for the post.

    (BTW, unless you object, I’d like to add you to my blogroll)


    • I love what you’ve written here and have come back several times these past weeks to read and re-read your words. Thank you so much for your insights. And I am honoured to be included on your blogroll (hope it’s okay that I’ve added you to mine as well!) Cheers (with tea)!


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