By Suzanne E.
Are you overly sensitive to criticism? Are
you a good critic yourself? It goes both ways usually. Criticism
experienced from others almost, if not always has a component of
projection on the other person’s part. When it hurts us, we
benefit from realizing we have a hidden match within ourselves
or it would simply roll off of us like water on a duck’s back.
Our opportunity for growth is to detach from another’s
projections and to uncover our own destructive self-criticism
lurking in the shadows of our minds so we can transform our
thinking patterns. Let us look at projection to understand it
better and create positive affirmations to update our negative,
What is projection? It is a psychological
defense mechanism where we find something difficult to
acknowledge, or own, within our own personality so we see it in
other people. Since we dislike the trait, behavioral pattern,
action, or emotion so much we only see it in others and many
times it turns into criticizing them for what we do not like in
ourselves. Now at some level we cannot really hide from
ourselves and the projection and criticism comes out in such
things as our dreams, our fears, shame, guilt, or negative
self-talk. For some
it implodes to the point that we become accident prone, have
anger problems, are unable to sleep through the night, or want
to numb out with alcohol or drugs.
Part of the inner work necessary to become
less sensitive to other people’s criticism, is to see their
projections, have compassion for them, and root out all the
places within our own minds that agree with them in an unhealthy
way. Ask yourself what are your beliefs about the other person’s
fault finding of you. Where do you secretly have the same
thoughts about yourself? We stop being defensive when we are
able to own what is inside us and begin healing our own beliefs
of low self-worth and toxic shame and guilt. Slowly we can
detach from critical attacks and see it as their problem not
ours. We might then be able to say such things as, “That’s
an interesting point of view,” or “I don’t see it that
way, that is not my experience.” Or we might ignore the
criticism and use active listening to get to the bottom of what
her/his problem is and help her/him to verbalize what s/he is
really asking for.
How do we heal our own inner critic? Use your
current wisdom to talk to yourself through old, binding belief
systems, create affirmations, and use the help of a higher
power. I, too, have
had times when I needed to talk more kindly to my younger self
for my critical perceptions of past actions and reactions. The following is a
positive dialog with self to begin the healing process.
“I need to realize that it took every experience, both the
good and bad feeling ones, to get where I am today in
consciousness. I would not have my current awareness if I had
not made choices that took me in painful directions and taught
me what not to choose. Once I have learned from this feedback of
the choices I made, some call them mistakes, I do not have to
keep going back into the past and beating myself up.”
It is helpful to list the negative, critical
things I say to myself and then create affirmations to update
the limiting belief. If, for example, I say to myself, “I feel
so humiliated and stupid for having poor boundaries with so and
so. I can’t believe how naďve and powerless I was to allow
myself to stay in that rejecting situation that tore down my
self-esteem,” then I can say new things to myself; such as, “ I am a loving,
giving person and I did nothing wrong by being too open and
trusting. I have my power now and will never again be in that
kind of situation for long. I know now to gauge where another is coming from before
getting too close emotionally. My openness is a good trait and I
use it wisely now.”
One way I criticize myself is to go back in
time, see a situation, and judge myself with my current level of
awareness. I must STOP myself when I catch myself doing this to
my younger, less aware self. It helps to remind myself that I
would not act or speak or interpret the situation the old way if
it came up now or in the future. I had to do it that way for me
to have the wisdom and discernment that I have today. I remind
myself to have compassion for my younger self who was less aware
and who would benefit from my kind words, not criticism. So I
might say things to my younger self like, “You did a good job
with what you knew about yourself and life at that time. The
school of hard knocks gave you feedback to gather more
information and move in a new direction. I appreciate the
courage it took to take new risks. Thank you for your unaware
actions because it helped me be the person of wisdom I am today.”
Now if this does not cut it for you and you
need spiritual backing to let up on yourself, you might follow
the 12-Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. You might be familiar with
this path. By adapting the 12-Steps to this situation, you admit
you are powerless to stop your negative thoughts that criticize
and torment you. At the end of this article is my version of the
12-Steps for Building Self-Esteem.
The next time you are under fire from a
critical person, remember you have options now to change how it
affects you. See their projections and your inner matches. Spend
time alone to update your beliefs and self talk to be your own
best friend. Finally, use God as you understand God to help you.
Twelve Steps of AA Adapted
to Building Self-Esteem.
I admit my
little self (ego, conditioned self) is powerless to control
my negative thoughts
and feelings. My
life of feeling unworthy is not working and is unmanageable.
I believe my
wholeness depends on experiencing Love from God as I understand God (Higher
Self, God Within, Christ, Jesus, Budda, The Universe).
I choose to
turn my life over to the care and direction of my Higher
Self to become fully conscious, a
I continue to
know myself, looking at all past behavior, guiding beliefs, perceptions, projections, and
feelings that have manifested negatively in my life.
I admit and
forgive myself for fearful thoughts, words, actions, and
reactions that blocked Love in my life.
I am ready to
transform all aspects of myself that block the power of Love
in my life.
humbly ask God to achieve this transformation.
I make a list
of all the situations and people whom I believe I have hurt
or whom I feel have hurt me because of
am willing to make peace with and forgive my past.
I heal these
relationships directly unless it does not support the
I continue to
expand my awareness and heal negative patterns that I see. I admit my mistakes openly and take
responsibility for my life.
more and more Love consciously from my higher Self through prayer, meditation, and
choose to consciously express this Divine Love through me.
I am an
awakening spiritual being, as a result of practicing these
steps. I continue to practice these principles to love myself and to pass it on
to all others. I
share this love and awareness with others who choose my