Why We Need Constructive Criticism To Kick Our Butts Sometimes

April 13, 2017

Last year around this time, I needed a good kick in the butt.

As much as I was in love with and obsessed with myself, there were areas of my self care that I was pushing to the side. So my best friend called me up to tell me. I’ve known her since I was in elementary school and sometimes I swear she’s reading not just my mind but my heart. She’s also the most brutally honest person I know but in the most loving, balanced, compassionate way. Her advice never comes from judgment or being close-minded. I trust her with all things.

So she tells me, “Gabby, I feel like you’re making excuses for why you can’t do this.”

And she was right. I had one of my sorority sisters tell me the same thing a week later, too. Then, a few of my other close friends. I was applying for jobs in the restaurant industry because I had more experience in that industry than could even fit on my resume. I had no experience in Media and even though I’d taken the classes and I had a degree, I was scared to move forward in my life. I was comfortable bartending and serving, which is the scariest place to be because it meant I was stagnant.

I think we all occasionally speak stories that can be disempowering when we’re afraid. We think by remaining comfortable, we are serving ourselves because we are appeasing our inner child. However the lesson that my friends beat me over the head with is that we have to feel the fear and push forward anyway or we’ll never get the lives we want. The timid don’t get shit.

When I first became a waitress, I was awful at it. I was learning how to mentally balance the task of being a server and sometimes I genuinely wanted to give up. Every time I did, my friends reminded me that we are all learning at some point. We are all newbies at times in our lives and if we give up, we will never learn. Three years later, I’m a great server but I’m fucking over it. And yet I was forcing myself to suffer because I was comfortable. So my best friends came through to tell me how insane I was being.

We all need someone who’s going to tell us, “You’re making excuses!” or “You’re lying to yourself” or “You’re ABSOLUTELY BUGGING.” Something I appreciate about my best friends is that they can be honest with me. They know me to my core and love me there, so their advice comes from that place of love. I can be resistant to the things they’re saying but never offended or hurt.

It can be hard to accept criticism when we attach our self-worth to what others think of us. When we value ourselves by how close to perfection we are or how infrequently we receive criticism, we can be so resistant to advice from others that we don’t even hear it. I could’ve told my loved ones, “You just don’t understand my life, nobody will hire me, I have no experience, all I can do is restaurants! STOP TALKING.” I could’ve disempowered myself in that way and I would’ve been lying to them but above all, I would’ve been lying to myself. Shutting down advice from others can often mean, “I’m scared what you’re saying is actually true and I’m not ready to accept that.”

Sometimes, other people truly don’t understand what we’re going through. Sometimes their advice can be tainted by their own negative perspectives or sometimes they can be coming from a place of hate or jealousy – but maturity is being able to really listen, open up our hearts, and determine when we genuinely needed that kick in the butt or gentle reminder. Sometimes other people can see our full capacity more than we ourselves can see it.

Pema Chodron said, “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” Let your loved ones be honest with you. Let even the people who drive you up the wall tell you when you’re not serving yourself in the best possible way. It’s okay to stand in the vulnerable place and say, “Wow, I was wrong, and I needed to hear that.”

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