Have you ever wondered why criticism hurts so much more when it comes from somebody you are close. If a stranger were to comment on your “flaws”, you might laugh it off, or flip them off depending on your personality; but when it comes from somebody you have a connect to, this small statement could make or break you.
I remember when I was a kid, around 6 or 7 years old, and I had an older cousin who I used to think was just about the coolest person on the planet. Whenever we spent time together I felt like I was just as cool as he was, to the point where I would look down on those who were my age. One day my cousin was going out to hang out with some friends, and I asked him If I could come along. He told me I couldn’t come with, so I begged; and finally he told me that I was an annoying little kid, and nobody wants to hang out with an annoying kid. This shattered every segment of my heart, and closed me off to acting like a kid for a while. From then on I began to act as adult like as possible by eliminating all those things that I truly found fun.
This was not the first time I had been called annoying, but in times prior the statement meant nothing to me due to it’s source.
The reason we hold on to the opinions of those who are closest to us has less to do with how long we’ve known them, and more to do with the fact that we have given them our power.
Our power comes from perspectives, and opinions we hold of ourselves; and more times than not we give those we put on a pedestal the power to either make us feel worthy, or crush our self-esteem wholly.
From a young age we are taught that in order to survive we much please those who are in a position of authority, these people usually being our caregivers. We give these individuals the ability to make or break our self-worth, thinking that the exchange of power will aid our own well-being; but in reality it puts us in a position of weakness and vulnerability.
Maddy-So-CoolStory: There was this girl named Maddy SoCool who was one of, if not the most popular girl in school…I’m taking about 300+ likes on every picture. Maddy took pride in her position of popularity, and saw it as her main source of confidence. She was titled as the hottest senior at school by everyone from the gamers to the athletes, and gave her a self of self-worth. On the first day of the second semester of her senior year she noticed a gorgeous, tan skinned, golden-haired girl walking on campus with a teacher; she immediately thought it was probably a visiting alumni, so she paid her no mind. When she approached the girl, and talked to her she found out that the girl was a transfer student. A few days went by and Maddy began to realize how the new girl was gaining a lot of attention from both the girls, and guys on campus. What broke the straw on the camels back however was when Maddy’s best friend approached her, and told her to add the new girl on Instagram; Maddy did so, and noticed how the new girl had double the followers and triple the amount of likes. Maddy was devastated. For the rest of the semester Maddy did everything from visiting tanning booths weekly, to dying her hair, and spending hours of her day on squat machines. Though those close to Maddy still showed her a lot of love and attention, it went unnoticed due to her obsession with the person she was now completely consumed by. It got to a point where Maddy’s jealousy took her over completely, and she began to spread rumors about the new girl; but all it did was take away the trust that she already had with her old friends. Maddy ended up losing her true friends, due to her insecurity based envy.
In the story above Maddy’s power belonged to not only those close to her, but literally everybody else; she was seeking approval, and self-worth from all but herself.
Unfortunately there are more Maddy’s in this generation than not, and these can be credited to the connectivity of social media.
When we chose to post up a picture of ourselves we are subconsciously seeking the approval of those who follow us online; we wait on them to give us that heart of acknowledgment to let us know that we are worthy.
Sure it may be fun to share pictures, and videos with those around us, but the danger comes from the association we make between the amount of attention our post’s get, and how important we are as individuals.
Taking back your power is not a simple task due to the years of social conditioning, it is however doable, and necessary for your growth.
Stranger Power: Due to the lack of physical connection, taking back your power on social media is the place to start. ( this is not counting social media addiction).
We can start of by asking ourselves a simple question, “just how many of those people do I know, and how many of them actually care about as a person”; repeat this statement, and truly let that sink in. How many other pictures of random people are they scrolling through before they get to yours?…probably just as many as you are. Realizing that most of these people don’t even know our last names, and couldn’t tell us how many pets we had if we didn’t post pictures of them so much, will give us a realistic view of just how much their opinions of us truly matter.
This will help you realize just how impersonal it is when somebody skips by your post.
When it comes to the real world it is a little more of a challenge to disassociate the amount of attention we receive, from our self-worth.
I too have been guilty of getting “getting fly” in order to gain others attention and approval. After spending too much time getting dressed I finally went out, and had a terrible time because of the lack of attention I was receiving, it didn’t help that half of the other guys at the club had on the same outfit.
There is nothing wrong with getting dolled up for a night out with your friends, or alone, but when you do so think about who you are doing it for. Are you only getting dressed up so others admire you, (which is the equivalent of real-time likes), or are you getting fly for yourself?
The power of looking “fly for yourself” is that you no longer wait feel a need to wait upon somebody else to let you know how good you look, you walk around already knowing you look good. This may come off as arrogant, but to a person with a damaged self perception confidence will always looks like cockiness.
Fam-Power: As I mentioned in the beginning, the things that those closest to us say, or do usually hit us the hardest than the words of a stranger; so in order to detach from our close circles opinions we must recognize that they are also just people too.
Even the person we look up to most have their own personals faults, flaws, and insecurities. What happens when we put people on a pedestal is that we often forget they are flawed human being’s as well. So if those who love us do pass forth hurtful critiques, we must view it as a projection of their own insecurities. Anybody who truly wants to help you grow as a person will tell you of your positive potential, and when they do mention any flaws they will do it in a constructive manner.
This goes for parents, guardians, teachers, and others in positions of authority in our lives; what they say about us is only a projection of their own view-point; just as we may judge on somebody for being something we are not, so do they.
If I had just thought of my cousin as an older kid who wanted to look cool in front of his friends I would have been less traumatized by his rejection.
Conclusion of Illusion:
When we feel as if we have been dealt a bad hand in, life all we have to do is look at a man who is living in the street’s, and this alone will readjust our perspective; but by taking the action of giving this man a dollar we immediately change our state from one of self-pity to one of gratitude, otherwise known as depression to happiness.
E-Motion Motion: One of the most important keys to taking back your power is to recognize that you are actually in control of you own emotional state. I know this may sound redundant, or even “self-helpish”, but it’s true in every sense. We are able to control our emotions through our actions hence the motion in e-motion.
A person who is reactive is usually the one who will end up in a depressed state after they have let somebody affect their self perception.
We often times subconsciously give away our power due to the belief that we never owned it in the first place, so this gives us an excuse to just let the chips fall as they may. It is easier to let somebody else be the blame for why we feel down on ourselves, than to actually look ourselves in the mirror, and do the work; and it really is work
If you’re waiting on something to miraculously claim your power back for you, then you might as well get used to the fabric on your backside. It has been proven time and time again that your actions are the only way to tap into your mind, even when it comes to something as psychological as this. Ignoring somebody’s criticism is just as much an action as defending yourself, and when you are growth centered you want to be a person of action.
No man was born with supreme confidence, besides Robert Downey Jr, and those who have it now had to work for it. The reason they call some leaders, and influences powerful is because they have cultivated the skill of self discovery. When we know our strengths/weakness nobody’s opinion, and I mean NOBODY’S, will alter the way we act towards them or ourselves.
The giving away of our power is an illusion that can only be seen through by changing our state of emotion, motion, which in turn rearranges our mentality. Power is connected to action, and those actions can only controlled by one individual..I’ll give you a hint, they’re reading this right. Reclaim your power, and take action towards your growth.
The next time somebody comes up to you with a compliment smile and thank them; and when they come with criticism thank them, and smile.
– Tinashe Hwande