I had a difficult day at work last week. Someone asked my plans for the weekend and I responded with my usual, “church and volunteering at the hospital.” My answer spurred a full-blown critique from the people in my office. Everything from my outfit, to my faith, to my character was criticized. I held it together all day and cried as soon as I reached the safety of my apartment that night.
This recent occurrence made me realize that I can learn a lot by receiving criticism from others. In fact, I think criticism can foster compassion if we choose to respond in a loving way.
5 Ways to Turn Criticism into Compassion
1. Grow in Humility
Receiving criticism from others can reveal areas where we’re lacking. These areas can be revealed by seeds of truth in someone’s words or by the way we respond to false accusations. Pay attention to the responses you have toward others that lack integrity, love, compassion, forgiveness, and/or acceptance.
2. Practice Forgiveness
I get wonderful life advice from my 72 year-old friend, Lois. A couple of weeks ago at church we discussed forgiveness. I told Lois that I was struggling to completely forgive someone. Every time I thought I was done with the issue, it came back. Lois looked at me and said, “Jaclyn, honey, sometimes you have to forgive someone every single day. Just keep giving it to God.” My point? We should seize every opportunity to practice forgiveness because we’ll never stop needing to give and receive it.
3. Actively Listen and Respond
I believe that people are inherently good and hurt feelings usually result from miscommunication. Active listening is a dying skill that need not be. Instead of inwardly fuming or developing a rebuttal while someone is speaking, try listening. Being a good listener and having an ability see things from another perspective will help you in every aspect of life.
4. Choose Empathy Over Anger
We’re all on different paths but we feel the same emotions. You and I both have bad days. You and I both say things that we regret later. You and I have both hurt others and been hurt by others. The next time you start feeling angry with someone, try to remember that they feel things just like you. Maybe they just need someone to extend kindness and love to them today.
5. Receive Feedback Without Losing Confidence
As much as we need to have compassion for others, we also need to have compassion for ourselves. Even the most kind, generous, and loving people will be attacked at some point– it comes with being human. Showing compassion to yourself means that you can admit to having flaws but not lose confidence when people call you out on them. Instead, you listen, consider their advice, and move forward without loss of faith in yourself. You’re becoming the person that you love and doing your best to help others along the way. And, darling, that’s what counts.