By: Amanda Vining, IATG ContributorJuly 21, 2016
An acquaintance of mine recently told me that, in his opinion, I don’t seem to be a very confident person. His remark blew my mind, because I pride myself on confidence and I absolutely LOVE who I am!
Following that encounter, I was not only confused about how this acquaintance couldn’t see how confident I am, but I was also hurt that he had negatively remarked on a quality that I value so dearly. Then I started thinking about other negative observations and statements that other people have made about me, like a high school classmate who once compared my acne to having a “Strawberry Face,” a friend in college who told me that I am socially awkward, and a fellow intern who said that I sound dumb when I speak. Even though I didn’t agree with any of these statements from other people, they still hurt to hear. No one enjoys being criticized, especially when that criticism goes against what we believe about ourselves.
So what are we supposed to do when someone else decides to tell us a “fact” about ourselves that we don’t believe is true?
You could be the most secure person possible, but we’re all human at our cores. We all have feelings, and it’s hard to keep those feelings from getting hurt when we hear something negative about ourselves. The challenge is not to refrain from acting in ways that will encourage others to give their unsolicited opinions (trust me, some people will give their opinion anyway), but to learn to love ourselves enough so that we don’t listen to those negative remarks. Often, the person voicing the negative observation is actually projecting upon you an insecurity that she/he has about her/himself. It’s difficult not to take things personally, especially when we’re caught off guard and feeling vulnerable, but it’s worth taking a step back and asking, “Is this something I believe is true about myself? Could this be a quality the other person is struggling with?”
With reflection, I realize how important it is to maintain my independence and believe my own truth about myself when met with unfavorable remarks from other people. I know what I think about myself, and at the end of the day, my opinion of myself is the only one that matters. As long as I am acting in ways that I am proud of, living out my values to the best of my ability, and being a kind person, I am content with who I am. It has taken me years of working through insecurities and learning not to internalize every negative remark other people make about me to be able to let critical comments go in one ear and out the other. It’s not necessarily easy, but taking charge of defining myself has been the greatest gift I have ever given myself. I can’t control what other people decide to say about me, but I can take control over how I respond. I choose to believe my own truth about myself, and when you are met with criticism, I hope you will believe your own truth, too!
Hearing negative criticism can be tough….but so are YOU! Take some time today to write down five positive truths about yourself then hang them up somewhere you can see every day. No one knows you better than YOU, so embrace your truths and walk with your head held high!
Amanda lives in Austin, Texas, where she strives every day to be as BRAVE and BeautyFULL as she can be. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a self-designed degree in Children’s Rights, and Duke University with a certificate in Nonprofit Management. In her spare time, Amanda can be found scouring Pinterest for her latest craft project, drinking coconut mochas in her favorite coffee shop, and advocating for sexual violence prevention on her blog, Talk About Rape (www.talkaboutrape.com.)