Sunday, August 8, 2010

Criticism


Well, another Sunday has rolled around....a day to prepare for another week of work.  Sure does roll around quickly.  We've had a fairly nice weekend here.  Low humidity, bearable heat...but tomorrow, it will be right back up to the 90's.  All I can say is...WOW!!!!  

"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help".--Abraham Lincoln


For those that don't know, I have a 25 year old stepson who suffers from mental illness.  He lived with us for awhile, but it didn't work out.  Sadly, it doesn't work out anywhere for this poor boy because as soon as his medication stabilizes him, he thinks he is cured, and he stops taking it. And don't try to make any suggestions; he doesn't want to hear it.  He listens to no one. He cannot deal with constructive criticism because he doesn't want to be told what to do.  After all, he is cured, isn't he? Sadly, he as deteriorated so badly that he will probably never live a normal life...let alone live on his own.  And, up until recently I was following the blog of another young man with mental illness...until he decided he didn't want anyone telling him what to do.  Again, the refusal to listen to constructive criticism.  So, what he did was privatize his blog and only accept those of his members who totally agreed with his every word....however wrong it may be. 

"Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults."--Socrates

At first I was angry.  How dare he cut me out of his life! All I wanted to do was help.  If I didn't care, I wouldn't be trying to steer him in the right direction.  I wouldn't care that his life was about to fall apart....but my friend is not alone in his not wanting to be told what to do. It's hard to listen to criticism...for any of us. If we are not prepared to accept it, it hurts.  It can burn a whole right down into our heart. ..no matter how constructive it is.  We all want to be praised for what we do, not criticized.  Criticism is perceived by many, including myself, as a personal attack...and the truth is, many times it just may be...the one who is criticizing us does not have our best interests at heart.  Indeed, their words are MEANT to be unkind, to hurt, to cause us pain.

There are two kinds of criticism-- positive and constructive criticism and negative and destructive criticism. All too often, we have been criticized so much in our lives that we cannot distinguish between the two.   So, how does one distinguish between the two.  First off, look at the intent behind it.  Negative criticism is focused on pointing out what is wrong with you without offering any constructive thoughts.  Constructive criticism may point out a fault, but also offers something constructive to aid the individual in finding their way.

Constructive criticism offers offers valid feedback by offering valid suggestions on things that can be improved and issues that can be avoided. It helps one to grow, to avoid those mistakes that could be deadly to one's being.  It is done not to ridicule...as negative criticism...but is done because one cares and has a genuine desire to help.  But that is not so easy to discern out here in blogland.  Here, we are offering our advice to someone who really doesn't know us, doesn't know what are motives are...doesn't know if we are genuinely trying to help or whether we are just trying to tell the individual how to run his/her life.  I work in a field of addiction and mental illness, I sometimes forget where one world ends and the other begins. 

Losing my blog friend has hurt, but also has also provided a valuable lesson to be learned...don't overstep my boundaries.  I think I have done fairly well with that, but something about my friend hit a chord; it hit too close to home, and I couldn't help myself from jumping in.  Too many times I have seen a client at my job exhibit the same symptoms as my blog friend so I reached out to help.  I meant well, but he didn't know that.  I was just another person in his life telling him what to do....and at this point in his life, that was not what he was after. 

So, my friends out there in blogland, if I should overstep my boundaries, please do let me know before cutting me out of your lives...and know, that it wasn't done to cause you pain.  I was done because I care.

Thanks for letting me share.  



8 comments:

  1. I think we all struggle with those boundaries , i think I'm the hardest on the people i love the most and as for most other people i try to figure out how receptive they are. I also can be pretty sensitive to criticism but i think my upbringing contributed a lot to it....for the most part i look at the intention though and i know who cares and means well and those who just want to slash and burn

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  2. oh and you come across as very caring to me so no worries from my end :)

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  3. It's so sad (yet so common) that people go off their meds under the mistaken impression they are "cured." Hopefully, the lesson will be learned in time -- learned "the hard way" of course -- but sometimes that's how we all learn the hard lessons of life. Me too!

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  4. Sometimes it's difficult to know whether to keep quiet or share your opinion. Of course, most people only want to help, and one's never too old to learn a new trick from someone else. But sometimes people don't want to be told what they're doing wrong... my sister has hit a difficult spot in the road of life, for example, and although I totally do not agree with some of the decisions she is about to make, I know enough only to voice very, *very* gentle criticism. We're a bunch of stubborn sheep, after all. (^v^)

    The most important thing to do is listen. And be honest. I guess all the rest will work itself out eventually.

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  5. Right on. As I get older, too, I'm much less apt to put up with a lot of unnecessary drama and trauma (read: B*llSh*t), and also I call 'em as I see 'em, although I try to use gentle words to do so. I've inadvertently bruised feelings with my directness in the past, so I sometimes just shut up (until I can't). I understand. And I'm so sorry about your stepson. At least my daughter is very meds-compliant.

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  6. My neices' mother is Bi-polar. She has the same issues. When the meds work great - she wants off them because she thinks she's fine. It's a difficult thing to live with.

    You are a wise woman who is experienced in these matters, so trying to help is probably like second nature to you. Don't feel bad if someone doesn't want the help.

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  7. Ohhh Hon, you DON'T overstep! I DO! Anyone can tell you that I can give lessons in over-stepping!

    And I understand the drive to "help". I do.

    But I can't see you ever doing negative criticism. Me yes. You no. [I know! I basically don't like myself. So what else is new? -grin- I got Free. I prefer Freedom. But I still don't like myself. Can't win 'em all, as they say!]

    No I did not know you have a troubled step son. What I can not understand, is people stopping meds of any kind. Without being told to do so, by their doc. It's not able to be understood. And seems, it must be another manifestation of the illness....

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