Thursday, July 29, 2010
“Superwoman” and the (Negative) Power of Criticism
Lately I have been feeling a bit like a “superwoman” who would like to be a bit less perfect, or at least under less pressure. Two people in my life have been rather unhelpful, yet feel comfortable dishing out suggestions, criticisms, and pointing out in general all the things that are wrong in our house/town/country. There is almost no way to cook for the family in a way that will please both; last week I made two separate menus for Shabbas morning in an effort to please both. The week before I made two separate batches of Challah (homemade bread). It would have been nice to receive a compliment or thank-you, but neither was forthcoming.
In addition to keeping Ricki occupied during the vacation, I have to put up with all sorts of “helpful” hints about how various things need attending to. And if I dare suggest that said person could “pitch in” a bit more, or if I protest the criticism, all I get is more verbal abuse as a result, or denial of the blatant reality that this person barely lifts a finger to help.
I am getting a bit fed up with all this, but at least I am trying not to take it to heart. These persons have their own reasons why they speak the way they do; apparently better behavior is beyond them at this point.
What this does show me is the tremendous negative effect of constant, even well-intentioned negative comments. [And I realize that unfortunately I have not been perfect in this matter myself.] Recurrent faultfinding (even if meant for the good) begins to grate on one’s soul after a while.
What keeps me afloat is the wonderfully positive upbringing I had, the knowledge that my parents, especially my Mom, valued me for what I was. The positive self esteem that I received years ago is what helps me, even today, to see that the problem of the subtly negative people surrounding me is a problem of THEIR own personality’s manufacturing.