Do you quickly crumble at criticism?
This week I’ve experienced what feels like: ‘I’m getting it wrong again!’ There has been criticism, a difference of opinion and being unfairly blamed. There has also been some beautiful kind words, gestures and generous praise which lifts me up and energises me to keep going. Thank you!
Am I looking for approval? Possibly. Although really, I want to understand my audience so I can help them. As a Wildheart, it’s quite often that other people’s stuff becomes my problem….unless I remember how to set boundaries. Boundaries are what keep you safe and stop you from taking stuff personally. If your boundaries are weak, then this will impact on your child because you will either seek to control or be permissive.
Take back your power!
Do you feel overly responsible for how other people feel? It’s not your job. It helps to remember that other people’s feelings and opinions are not facts. Only you get to define you. Do you worry about what other people think of you?
You can choose how you respond. I use it as an opportunity to explore deeper the inner world of my critic.
What is going on for them? What do they want me to know? You can do that as a parent too.
Take for example a teen who comes to coaching and complains that the room is too babyish. She uses that as an excuse to stop coming. Instead what I heard was that she was being treated like a baby at home and wanted more autonomy as she flourished into an adult. I could have been defensive or justified my decorating choices. I didn’t. It wasn’t about me.
Unsolicited advice is a boundary invasion
What happens though when you ask for feedback on something particular – this week I asked if I should change my name from Smiley (you may have given me your feedback if you get my weekly newsletter. If not, sign up here). I was flooded with responses – everybody loves to give their opinion and I enjoyed reading all the different perceptions of Smiley coaching.
When you ask people for help or advice, then you are inviting it in. One person took it upon themselves to judge my professionalism. I’m not going to lie, initially I reacted with defensiveness. I wanted to rush on in and justify my choices. I didn’t have to. After some reflection, I realised
- this was an old wound of mine which still needed tending to
- how vulnerable it can be when you ask for feedback if you aren’t emotionally resilient
- i didn’t have to be a victim, I could take back my power by looking at what I was in control of
- this could have been the judger’s insecurities and fears
- i could set boundaries to communicate that this wasn’t what I asked for
- i could choose to focus my attention on the good feedback and not the one negative nelly
I love this quote from Brene Brown which sums it up perfectly:
A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.
What are you making it mean?
This week, I also asked my Energy Podders for feedback. Listen in to what this little chap told me (bless him!) in the video clips below …
Anybody’s feedback on my work and the Energy Pod doesn’t define its success or effectiveness.
It’s what I choose to do with it that matters. I can focus on the lovely things this little boy is saying or I can choose to take offence. I could even tell him off for being rude and unkind (some parents do this when children find their voice and assert themselves). The most constructive action: I can praise him for being honest and telling me how he really feels (he will trust me again with his true feelings and be honest to me when it matters most). I can listen with love and work out what matters to him.
Play is very important to me and when I don’t have time to do that, I don’t like it.
This is what I am hearing in the first video ….Did you hear that too?
You’re not everybody’s cup of tea
Sometimes, families aren’t ready for coaching or I’m not the right Coach for them. This is one of the most important things being committed to and entering into this kind of relationship. You have to connect and have rapport with your client, otherwise it doesn’t work. I effectively have two clients: parents need to trust me (especially as they are not always privy to what is discussed) and the child needs to feel at ease with me.
Guess who finds it hardest? Parents find this hard.
I can recall many times when my name was used as a weapon by a child. Children will go home and proclaim: ‘Smiley says you don’t understand me….Smiley says you aren’t allowed to shout….. Smiley says you’re not listening to me!’
Yes Smiley becomes a swear word in some houses, but in all seriousness your child is hiding behind Smiley because it feels safer somehow to tell you how they truly feel. This shows they feel powerless and they feel empowered by having another adult who validates their feelings.
Parents with weak emotional boundaries will see this as an attack or a threat. It’s likely this is an old wound for them that needs attention.
Validating feelings is not the same as agreeing
It’s about having empathy and seeing things from their point of view. When a child tells me how they feel, I will probably paraphrase it back to them which may sound like: ‘So you feel as if your parents aren’t listening to you? Can you tell me more about how that makes you feel?’ This opens up a dialogue for the child to freely express without any judgement (being right or wrong) their true feelings.
Parents also have choices about how they respond to this. A parent could:
- take it personally and feel attacked by their child
- respond with sarcasm or get defensive
- dismiss their feelings and make them wrong
- minimise their feelings (that’s not true or that’s not what happend) or ignore them
- encourage their child to open up more about what might have happened to lead them to this conclusion (maybe there are things they need that haven’t been acknowledged)
- criticise their child for being rude and disrespectful
- criticise my coaching and stop their child from coming to coaching (shut it down and not acknowledge what is really going on)
- blame and shame me (how very dare I make it all so much worse than it is! Don’t think those feelings weren’t already there before I started digging around. I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t unearth them!)
- blame their child and difficult behaviour (your child is not the problem; your child is having a problem and needs your help)
The Blame Game – It’s all Your Fault!
Where there is blame there is pain. Projecting your pain on to somebody or something else allows you to avoid looking at it.
When you blame, you lose your power and you stay stuck. You’re not looking at what you’re in control of and what you’re are responsible for.
What does it feel like to be blamed as a child?
Inevitably children will be wrong a lot of the time as they are learning and it must feel safe for them to make mistakes. They are allowed to be human and learn in this way – otherwise they will turn into blamers. They will feel shame and use blame as a way of avoiding these icky feelings. Shame makes a child feel wrong for wanting or needing something. Are you shaming your child without realising it?
Perfectionists can carry a lot of shame because usually, they are avoiding ‘getting it wrong’ as they try harder to win their parent’s love and approval.This comes from fault thinking styles (black and white thinking) where children can only be seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Look at the other ways perfectionism is created in children.
Any kind of defiance or opposition highlights the need for secure connection. Connection creates a trusting loving mutually respectful relationship which enables your child to come to you whatever their struggle is. Have you seen my little 30 day mini training to help you strengthen your connection and find a way to parent your strong-willed sensitive child without compromising them or exhausting yourself. Everybody wins. Nobody is to blame.
After all, parenting is not a technique, it is a relationship; one of the most important relationships in your life.
Besides, you get it wrong don’t you? You are not perfect.
You are not meant to be. Parenting is more of a feel your way job description. It’s safe for you to make mistakes. It’s different for everybody. Different child temperaments require different parenting approaches. It’s more about relating to and understanding your child instead of taking it personally. Your child can and is allowed to have a different opinion, a different viewpoint and different feelings without making you wrong.
Can’t everybody be right or just different. Why does it have to be wrong?
It doesn’t have to be somebody’s fault and nobody has to feel bad – we innately feel bad when we get it wrong so how about teaching healthy repair. What can we do to make that right?