Having grown up in an alcoholic home, I had learned not to trust what I see or feel and certainly not to trust other people. Coming back from that was a process, and it started with the third step that we discussed earlier this month: learning to trust my Higher Power. I spent a few years working on that, and then the next step in learning to trust, was learning to trust myself. Some days I still have to work on that; on days where I am at my worst, I don’t always trust myself, and as a result I want to curl up in my room and hide. I never did learn to trust other people, although I heard it said once that there is no such thing about trusting other people–it’s about trusting our own judgement in who it is safe to share with.
For me that’s a powerful thing. I cannot control what other people do, but I can make a judgement call as to whether or not it is safe to share personal information with that person. The same also goes when another person shares their truth with me. What I mean by that is this–we don’t always like what we hear, especially when what is being told to us is something negative about ourselves. In this case, we have to use our judgement as to whether or not to take it seriously or not.
For instance, I was recently criticized heavily by a friend of mine. This woman has consistently criticized me and put me down, and I’ve learned, over time, to take what she says with a grain of salt. I value her friendship and don’t necessarily want to end that friendship, however, I also know not to automatically trust the things that she says about me.
Whereas if one of my friends from Pennsylvania (where I grew up–I’m in CA now) were to say those things to me, I would be more likely to take notice, because they don’t usually talk to me like that, so when they do, I would sit up and take notice–they are more trustworthy sources than a friend who always criticizes. Even so, I still have to evaluate the things that they say. Just before Christmas, a friend of mine came down on me for decisions I have made (and continue to make) regarding my family. She had a lot of cruel things to say that day. I realized though that she was missing her mom who had passed away several years ago, and while it wasn’t okay for her to speak to me the way that she did, she was just missing her mom. Before I had the opportunity to figure out how to address the situation, she texted me and apologized, proving my judgement of the situation to be correct. She and I do not talk very often because we live so far away, but I still consider her a friend, and when we do talk, I am comfortable sharing personal information with her.
I have another friend that I mostly work on writing projects with, but we do talk as well. At one point, she criticized something I was doing. I thought about what she said and realized that she was exactly right, and ever since then I have been more cognizant of what I have doing. In fact, I have actual sought guidance from her on similar issues since then, because I have realized that she is a reliable resource in those matters.
My point to sharing these examples is to show that for criticism to have value, depends on my judgement. Only I can determine whether or not to trust the criticism placed before me or to dismiss it, and I need to trust in my own judgement in order to make that determination. The person making the criticism needs to be looked at, as well as the circumstances in which they are making the criticism. In some cases, the person will be right, and I need to take their words seriously, but in others, they are not, and it is best not to take their criticism seriously.
It is also a reminder to look at our own part in our interactions. You’ll notice that I don’t take seriously the friend who criticizes me all the time, but the friend who criticized me once–I actually sought out her judgement and opinion on other matters. I can use this as an example in my own interactions. If I want someone to take me seriously, I should be less critical of them, and criticize them only sparingly, especially with someone that I have been previously critical with.