Handling Criticism

I think it's called a paradox. On one hand I was unaware of the damage I caused as I roared through other people's lives like that tornado Bill talks about. On the other I was super sensitive to any critical or unkind remark. I was so thin skinned I was almost transparent. I just couldn't stand criticism in any form, so I grew up with the idea that if I could do everything perfectly, you wouldn't criticize me.

Since I was trying so hard to be perfect, I felt certainly justified in getting angry if you criticized me anyways. But the anger didn't always come to the surface. Often I would stuff it down into my "mental cesspool" where I also stuffed my fear, guilt and shame. My mind was a raging sea of fear, resentment, and anger. I drank against these feelings for almost 30 years.

I learned in AA that this is an exhausting way to live. Regardless of how much money I have or other postive circumstances, I cannot hope to enjoy the full beauty of life without peace of mind. When I ask God in prayer for "serenity" I am asking for peace of mind.

I gain peace of mind as I use the Steps to muck out the cesspool -- to get down to causes and conditions, to get cleaner inside. By feeling better about myself I feel better about you too and it becomes easier to let go of petty hurts and forgive you for your mistakes too.

One thing that has helped me deal with criticism is the "1% Rule." The idea is that there is a least a small amount of truth in every criticism. My spiritual work is to see the 1% of the criticism that's true and disregard the rest. When I can see my part and realize you have been put in my life to help me, then I am saved from anger and a peaceful life is possible.