THE CRITICAL OTHER
Around a partner or a parent for whom nothing is ever good enough, we feel constantly down and angry, sluggish and tired. Whenever they point out we have not quite delivered to THEIR satisfaction we feel we are not enough, that WE are the problem.
Because it was extremely painful for us when our parents criticised us, we adapted our behaviour in order to receive their love. We started to please them...
Doing everything and anything so that they are finally happy with us. Unsurprisingly, we then found ourselves in a similarly critical, controlling relationships as adults. Reacting to critique with pleasing, we do that not to feel bad about ourselves. We come to form a belief that this incessant criticism, coming from people who love and care about us, is making us somehow 'better'.
Yet, deep inside, in our core resentment rises every time their critique points to our inadequacies...
We hang onto every word of praise to feel better about ourselves and in time their critique chips away our confidence and deepens our insecurity. In time, we start to dislike those who make us feel bad about ourselves but we aren't able to assert ourselves in healthy ways due to lack of confidence. Our relationship with them becomes very destructive and the lack of communication makes up for a very explosive mix. We become very sensitive to critique even when this is constructive and pour all our energy into relentlessly defending ourselves. We stop evolving and growing, finding it impossible to distinguish a healthy critique (help) from an unhealthy one (abuse).
The walls are up! We fight anyone who touches our childhood wound...
Generally we keep people at an arm length, being distrustful. Paradoxically, letting those who abuse us most in. We believe they would fight the outside world for us, whilst they are weakening us on the inside. Believing they are supporting us by controlling possible outside invaders, we failing to see how they control US by being in charge of our emotions and happiness.
Why do we trust easily to charmers? Because we IDEALISE them. The same way we have idealised our parents...
Are your parents often angry, unhappy with the world around them?
Our HEALING PROCESS is really about:
1/ Acknowledging we are feeling inadequate when critiqued.
ACCEPTING that we are hurting is a start of our healing journey. Denying, on the other hand, keeps our wound unconsciously in place from where it can never heal.
2/ Understanding this issue in depth, where it came from and how it makes us feel today.
It takes time to DETACH from the idea of us being what we do. We get to grasp that how others think we do, their opinions and comments about us, is NOT a reflection of ourselves but them. Going through the notions of releasing our emotions, we let them surface towards closure with ourselves and the people who caused it. Forgiveness towards ourselves is the result and a natural extension of it. Grasping that others treat us bad because THEY themselves are wounded, not because we are bad. As understanding of this simple truth sinks in, our anger is replaced with compassion for THEIR lack of understanding of how much they are hurting inside.
3/ Practicing self-acceptance.
Loving ourselves for who we are allows us to see our perfection. Who we are becomes unrelated to others opinions of us. We feel really good about finding ourselves gain, feeling FREE, having taken our happiness in our own hands. In time we begin to to feel content and confident. We start trusting ourselves instead of believing others and reacting inadequately. We become strong enough to embrace our vulnerabilities and stop hiding things which hurt us, knowing we are able to take care of ourselves. By trusting ourselves we release our unhealthy need for care and protection by others.
4/ Setting new boundaries with our abusers once we rehabilitated our sense of Self.
Once we know who we are and who we are not, we are able to consider any critique without it hurting us. When our wounds are concealed, any criticism falls off us without us taking it personally. It allows us to grow again. We become able to genuinely apologise without feeling destructive to ourselves or others. Equally, we can clearly see if other's critique is meant to put us down in an attempt to control us.
There is no way of believing others telling you who you are, or should be, once you are firmly anchored in your OWN knowing.
Once we know who we are and come to truly love ourselves, our walls fall. We let the light in, savouring the world around us and if need be becoming the indestructible fortress, confidently standing up to any boundary violation.
Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.
Copyright © 2016 Michaela Patel