I know the impact of criticism, I've known it all my life. It begins with my family who expects me to fit in, to think as they do, to do the things that they do, to remain silent because I say things they don't want to hear or read. 

Sometimes the criticism is constructive, offering me a new frame of reference, pointing out a contradiction, exposing my biases and these are all valuable and important in my creative processes. 

There is another kind of criticism that is less constructive. It is the kind that wants me to conform, to submit to tradition, to think inside the box. Anyone who has taken the Leadership Institute of Spokane training or Landmark training knows what I mean. It is the ability to see the larger picture than the probabilities, it is the desire to recognize possibilities beyond the usual, and it is the ability to make choices that lead to new preferabilities.  

The negative effects of criticism that comes from people who do not engage in thinking in the future tense, who don't recognize that normal life is a grave with the ends kicked out, act as a millstone tied around a creative one's neck when thrown into a canal. It is an attempt to maintain and perpetuate the status quo. These attitudes become stones of granite upon which I can build stair steps to a higher plain of thinking and acting. 

Creative thinking and acting presents a threat to some. What are my obligations to ease the intimidation that confronts them? Am I to squash, like a fire ant on the sidewalk, the ideas that energize me? Is it my job to protect them? Or is it their job, when they read and listen to what I say, to be aware that my opinion is as valuable as their hurt feelings. Who is responsible when feelings are hurt? 

Can a mentally healthy, mature, adult human being read and hear without feeling offended? I think so! I know so! I don't agree with many ideas and actions with which I am confronted and the feelings in me are not offended, however my intelligence is sparked to the extent that I express my point of view with evidence, as clearly and concretely and specifically as I can, with confidence and competence. If I am wrong, others can offer evidence of why I am wrong. We can engage in the conflict as any mentally healthy, mature, adult human beings do.

If feelings are hurt, it is not my responsibility to stop what I say and do! It is my responsibility to listen to evidence. Reconsider my position and make changes in my thinking if evidence indicates I should. If the evidence is not there, it is my responsibility to do what I know and do best. 

Views: 64

Tags: competence, confidence, creative, criticism, evidence, family, intelligence, obligation, responsibility

Comment

You need to be a member of Atheist Nexus to add comments!

Join Atheist Nexus

Comment by Sentient Biped on June 24, 2014 at 8:43am

Joan, sooner or later most of us get hit over the head by a two-by-four.  If I collected all of the ones that hit me, I could frame a house with them.  I know the same is true for you, as well.

I think each of us has a journey through life.  Even if your granddaughters are theist, they have a strong example of evidence-based reasoning and critical thinking, by your example.  A strong, loving, wise, experienced woman.  They will have that to fall back on, and the other attitudes from personal strength and liberty that you provide.  Their expression of your example may show up in your lifetime, but even if not, you know it is there, to blossom in the right moment.

It's easy for me to say at a distance.  I think of how I should have said or done things differently every day, hours or years after the fact.  I try to learn every day how to guide others in a more thoughtful direction, without being critical myself.  It's not an easy path to take.

Comment by Joan Denoo on June 20, 2014 at 8:07pm

Fortune, you are correct in your statement that "this is why you're wrong" is not a good idea. It does put distance between us. Even as your mother could perhaps see what you were doing and the problems that may come out of your behavior, I assume she was trying to prevent you from taking unnecessary risks, which you needed to learn for yourself, first hand.

Point well taken.

Comment by Joan Denoo on June 20, 2014 at 7:21pm

Thanks, Daniel, for the reassurance of the value of what I am trying to accomplish. It seems my family lay off criticizing me for wanting to inform the public about family violence and the things a woman has to do to be mentally, physically, financially able to take care of herself and her children. Every now and then, a fresh round of criticism comes through and I want to make it very clear that this is not a hobby with me, but a life-long desire to educate men and women about the long term impact of unresolved conflict within the home. 

I like your suggestions of how I could frame my comments so that not so much anxiety and anger is aroused in the people closest to me. The violence doesn't define me, but what I think does define me is facing reality of what is actually happening, even now within the framework of my family.

For whatever reason, my granddaughters have found religion. It is the kind of religion that is all love and kindness and the kinds of things I would like for them to experience. What they don't see is the trap of submission, yielding, praying, and thinking that prayer is all it takes to solve problems or conflicts. Laura is handling this far better than I. One of them even said if you treat a poisonous spider "nicely" it won't bite you. 

GRRR It is time for me to back out and let them learn about life without interference from me. I'm writing like crazy, about the feelings and thoughts I am experiencing right now. Perhaps, one day they will be asking the kinds of questions they need to ask. Maybe that Black Widow spider will bite her or one of her kids, and she won't see the world dedicated to bringing her happiness. 

In the meantime, I will use the Socratic method and stop trying to reason with them. My cousin keeps telling me that I have to hit them up the side of their heads with a 2 x 4 to get their attention. No, I think life will offer them the opportunity to find out for themselves that there are some challenges that no amount of prayer or being "nice" and being a "good wife" will help. 

Comment by Future on June 20, 2014 at 9:37am
My mother was a true contrarian when I was growing up. It used to drive me crazy, since after a point all I could her say was "this is why you're wrong". I realize that some of that is good parenting, but rarely did I ever hear that I did the right thing, or that I was right to say that to so and so, etc. Instead of just accepting that I was wrong about everything I did, I just distanced myself from her negativity by not sharing with her. Unfortunately, sharing with my dad was useless, since he was rarely ever home and had little interest in being anything other than a tutor when I had problems with homework. I guess it's no wonder why we aren't that close today.
Comment by Sentient Biped on June 19, 2014 at 4:07pm

Joan, people are so critical, so much of the time.  Often I just want to be left alone.  It's rough on the ego, to hear so much criticism. 

In the past, when people criticized, I might have had something to say.  Now I am more likely to turn them off, or just say, Oh, OK.  Then do whatever I was going to do anyway.

When I talk to people I avoid making judgments or criticizing.  I might say, "What would happen if you....  " instead of "You should.....  ". Or respond to a statement I disagree with with, "why is that?".  

If someone is diametrically opposed to my way of thinking, I try to keep it on a level of being pure goal oriented.  For example, if I have someone mow the lawn, I don't care if they are republican, or catholic, or think Sarah Palin is a genius.  It's just, mow the lawn.  At work, I avoid all talk of personal philosophy.  We have 7th day adventists, catholics, mormons, buddhists, and a smattering of atheists.  We do our jobs.  It's no one's role to criticize someone else.

My family was critical too.  Looking back, I think that was just their euro-midwestern USA rural temperament.  It's interesting because Im around a lot more Chinese people now, and they are just as critical.  It's funny.  

I hope you don't let people get you down.  You have a light to shine, and a true intelligence to share, compassion for others and creativity.

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

Latest Activity

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service